The Renault 5 (also called the R5) was a supermini produced by the French automaker Renault in two generations between 1972 and 1996. It was sold in many markets, usually as the Renault 5 but in North America as Le Car from 1976 to 1984.
The Renault 5 was introduced in January 1972. It was Renault's first supermini , and its most prominent feature was its styling by Michel Boue (who died before the car's release), which included a steeply sloping rear hatchback and front fascia. Boue had wanted the taillights to go all the way up from the bumper into the C-pillar, in the fashion of the much later Fiat Punto and Volvo 850 Estate / Wagon, but the lights remained at a more conventional level.
Underneath the skin, it borrowed heavily from the Renault 4, using a longitudinally-mounted engine driving the front wheels with torsion bar suspension. OHV engines were borrowed from the Renault 4, Renault 8 and Renault 16, and ranged from 850 to 1400 cc.
Early R5s used a dashboard-mounted gearshift (the gearbox is in front of the engine), but this was later dropped in favour of a floor mounted shifter. Door handles were formed by a cut-out in the door panel and B-pillar.
Other versions of the first generation included the Renault 5 Alpine (Gordini in the United Kingdom), Alpine/Gordini Turbo, and a four-door sedan version called the Renault 7 and built by FASA-Renault of Spain.
The Renault 5 was one of the first French-made cars to achieve sales success on the British market. Between 1972 and 1984, 216,199 examples of the Renault 5 were sold .
The Renault 5 in its 1.4 litre Alpine version was raced in Group 2, its most notable result was a second and first in the 1977 Monte-Carlo rally despite a serious handicap in power against other works cars.
For 1978, a rally Group 4 (later Group B) version was introduced. It was named as the Renault 5 Turbo, but being mid-engined and rear wheel drive, this car bore little technical resemblance to the road-going version. Though retaining the shape and general look of the 5, only the door panels were shared with the standard version. Driven by Jean Ragnotti, this car won the Monte Carlo Rally for its first race in World Rally Championship. The 2WD R5 turbo soon had to face the competition of new 4WD cars that proved to be faster on dirt, however it remained among the fastest of its era on tarmac.
The Renault 5 Turbo was made in many guises, eventually culminating with the Renault 5 Maxi Turbo. This car had up to , all produced from a slightly enlarged and highly modified version of the original 1397 cc Renault 5 engine.
Many confuse the different versions of the Renault 5 Turbo, often grouping them all under the common moniker "Renault 5 Turbo". The "Renault 5 Gordini Turbo", referenced above, is the front-engined predecessor to the "Renault 5 GT Turbo". The "Renault 5 Turbo", "Renault 5 Turbo 2" and variants are the mid-engined versions with the wide wheel-arches (which are so often copied with poor-quality bodykits on second-generation Renault 5s).
The second generation Renault 5, often referred to as the Supercinq or Superfive, appeared in 1985. Although the bodyshell was completely new (the platform was based on that of the Renault 9/11), the classic 5 styling touches were left unchanged; styling was the work of Marcello Gandini. The biggest change was the adoption of a transversely-mounted powertrain taken directly from the 9 and 11, plus a less sophisticated suspension design, which used MacPherson struts.
The second-generation R5 also spawned a panel van version, known as the Renault Extra (In UK/Ireland), Renault Express (France, Spain, Portugal, Italy) or as the Renault Rapid (Mainly in German speaking countries like Germany and Austria). This car was intended to replace the R4 F6 panel van, production of which had ceased in 1986.
A "hot hatch" version, the GT Turbo, was a car beloved of boy racers through the 1980s and 1990s. Sporting 115 PS (85 kW/113 hp) in the Phase 1, the Phase 2 GT Turbo later brought 5 extra horsepower to the table, a slightly altered torque band and higher reliability. Coming from a simple 1397 cc OHV engine, this was considered quite a feat. Due to strict emission demands in certain European countries, the GT Turbo was not available everywhere. Because of this Renault decided to use the naturally aspirated 1.7 liter from the Renault 19, which utilized multipoint fuel injection. Under the name GTE, it produced 95 PS (70 kW/94 hp). Although not as fast as the turbo model, it featured the same interior and exterior appearance, as well as identical suspension and brakes.
The model was starting to show its age by 1990, when it was effectively replaced by the more modern and better-built Clio, which was an instant sales success across Europe. Production of the R5 was transferred to the Revoz factory in Slovenia when the Clio was launched, and it remained on sale as a budget choice called the Campus until the car's 24-year production run finally came to an end in 1996. The Campus name was revived in 2005 with the Renault Clio II. The Renault Clio II remains in production alongside the Renault Clio III, as the R5 did with the first Renault Clio.
With the launch of the Renault Clio, production of the Renault 5 was transferred to the Revoz factory in Slovenia, and it remained on sale as a budget car until the model's 24-year production run finally came to an end in 1996.
The Renault 5 was one of the first cars produced with a plastic bumper bar that has since become standard on most cars. Nearly 5.5 million Renault 5s were built.
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