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Renault 5 GT Turbo

Renault 5 GT Turbo

Year (of specifications) 1985 - 1991
Engine(s) 1.4 litre 4 cylinder turbocharged
Transmission 5 speed manual FWD
Max speed -
0-60 7.5 seconds (Phase II cars)
Horsepower 120 horsepower
weight 853 kgs

This little French pocket rocket was fairly different to most of its competitors. Where the majority of hot hatches use the concept of a small car and a big engine to liven things up, Renault decided to use a small car with a small engine and just throw in a turbocharger. It worked well and this dinky car had rapid acceleration once the turbo was wound up. With only weighing 853 kg And having a respectable (in its day) 120 bhp this car sometimes felt like it wanted to take off. The modders of yesterday always thought it was sensible to tune the R5 up to a zillion bhp by strapping a turbo onto it that was the size of a horse. A pair of wings would have been a better mod!

The later (phase2) cars were the ones everyone remembers, partly because not many people can remember much earlier, and partly because they where in production for longer. From the outside the R5 looked like a jazzed up washing machine with its boxy body work being jazzed up by plastic wheel arch extensions, side skirts, big bumpers, front foglights, a small rear spoiler and a set of five spoke alloy wheels. From the inside it had the usual eighties futuristic styled dashboard, a couple of stripey spine hugging seats and a chunky steering wheel and gear knob.

Driving the R5 turbo is an experience in lots of different ways, both good and bad. I'll start with the latter. The ride is washboard firm, although this gives the car a racy feel it does wear on you after a while. The seating position seems to high up for a sporty car. It has too much turbo lag for anyone's liking and driving in traffic can be tiring and often feels like hard work. They were never the most reliable either, especially the wide boy zillion bhp tuned ones. On the plus side it did handle very well. With loads of grip and point and shoot go kart like manners the R5 GT Turbo was good on a fast twisty road. Only let down by the turbo lag on a rally like back road where fast throttle response is more of a must have. However on the twisty stuff that's easy to read it's pretty impressive, with very little understeer and hardly any lift off oversteer. It turns into a corner very sharp and grips well holding the chosen line perfectly making it very easy to drive at speed.

Over the years the Renault Sport hothatches have evolved and keep getting better but this, there original pocket rocket, is still a fun car and a good buy for some retro driving thrills.

Words by Colin Fowler

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