French automaker has partnered with fashion designer Pierre Gonalons to make one-off electromod. The 5 Diamant celebrates the iconic model’s 50th anniversary
Fifty years ago, the Renault 5 went on sale. The supermini brought innovative solutions to optimize cabin room while keeping the external size small. It also shared several parts with older siblings to keep costs to a minimum. Over the years, its rising popularity encouraged Renault to give it more versions, which ended building a virtuous circle. The car sold over 9 million units considering all generations and body styles.
The company eventually replaced it with the Clio, which became another sales success. However, it does not mean it forgot about the R5; in fact, there are even plans of a revival as an EV. For now, the classic car is turning fifty and Renault wants to celebrate it in style. The concept car above comes from cooperating with Pierre Gonalons; the 5 Diamant aims to reinterpret the car’s original style in a brilliant, unique way.
Tell me about the Renault 5
The model was not a direct replacement to the much older R4; designer Michel Boué drew it in his spare time and eventually got the attention of Renault’ executives. The boxy style with a sloping hatchback was in line with that of key competitors Fiat 127 and Volkswagen Polo. While its powertrain was simple and proven, it featured new solutions like monocoque structure, cut-out door handles, and plastic bumpers.
Renault exported it to several regions including the USA, where AMC sold it as Le Car. The Spanish branch developed the R7 sedan mostly for the local market. However, when it comes to variations, it really shone at performance ones. The Alpine/Gordini was one of the first hot hatches ever. The R5 Turbo, in turn, was born to be a homologation special and ended up becoming the most powerful production car in France.
An all-new generation debuted in 1984 with heavily evolutionary design. Basically, it served as an upgrade of the original formula; more aerodynamic body, more powerful engines, roomier cabin, and some fancier versions. It was quite successful as well until the Clio arrived in 1990. From that moment, Renault reduced its line until it decided to discontinue the model altogether in 1996. The Express van survived until 2002.
And who is Pierre Gonalons?
An architect and interior designer raised in Lyon and based in Paris. He founded his creative studio at the age of 23 and quickly began to show a unique interpretation of time and space. He has collaborated with several renowned brands such as Lalique, Nina Ricci and Pernod besides creating product lines of his own. Gonalons is famous for a minimalist approach to projects with touches of pop culture and decorative art.
It is easy to see why Renault chose to partner with Gonalons. The 5 Diamant is not just a restored car nor a whole different thing. It is a new interpretation of the original concept. Renault gave him carte blanche to work on the R5, and he made the best use of it. “What I wanted […] was pay tribute to its revolutionary design and at the same time transfer the shapes and colours in my universe to the automotive world.”
Once you see Gonalons’ previous works, it is easy to find their influence on the 5 Diamant. The whole car has a minimalist style with touches of classic luxury. Besides that, the designer recruited artists with whom he works on a regular basis to bring their expertise as well. Dashboard and seats, for example, come with horsehair fabric from Métaphores, “the only workshop in the world that still weaves horsehair by hand”.
What is the Renault 5 Diamant?
A one-off car whose design was reinterpreted towards high fashion. The first feature we can notice is the streamlined design; chrome strips and air intakes were kept to a minimum. The golden paint on bumpers and side skirts creates an elegant contrast with the pearl pink body color. The fabric sunroof is still there and the wheels come from the Alpine version. The special logo blends Renault’s with Gonalons’ initials.
The smooth body makes it easy to notice the modified lights. Head and tail lights were replaced by pop-up ones; they are clear and multi-faceted in a way that resembles jewelry. The door handles made room for a pair of golden spheres with fingerprint recognition. Gonalons partnered with Design et Solution to use their expertise into executing most of his ideas. However, there are some other details to analyze.
Renault mentions that the paint uses three layers. “Golden pigments on a pink base, covered with frosted varnish producing a wide variety of effects ranging from golden dashes in the sunshine to bluer tones in the dark”. It is also interesting to know that the wheels have a sun in the center; after all, it is a symbol that Gonalons deeply appreciates. The 5 Diamant is truly a très chic interpretation of the classic hatchback.
And the 5 Diamant cabin?
If you are impressed by the exterior, you are in for a treat. Minimalism appears again: the dashboard has three gauges, a dedicated storage area for your phone, and air vents; the door handles, gearshift lever, and window winders became golden truncated spheres”; and the steering wheel became one of the most distinctive parts. Gonalons chose French Grand Antique d’Aubert marble recycled by Minéral Expertise.
There are new items under the hood as well. The 5 Diamant follows the electromod trend and adopted a fully electric engine. Because of that, the transmission only features forward, neutral and reverse modes; the gauge cluster, in turn, shows speed, battery charge, and time. As you can imagine, infotainment and navigation systems come from the driver’s smartphone once it is docked at the dedicated storage area.
As you can see, Renault and Gonalons’ concoction is a true art car. The 5 Diamant will never reach mass production, of course, but it does not matter. The point is that Renault found a beautiful way to cherish its history while keeping an eye on the future. That is specifically important when it comes to the R5 because the company has already released a modern-day concept version; it is expected to be produced soon.
Frequently asked questions
In a way, yes. While the 5 Diamant is just a one-off show car, there will be a production model on sale soon. Renault has already revealed a concept version which will have an Alpine version.
The Clio. Renault gave the R5 a second generation in 1984 and released the Clio in 1990. While both models survived for some years, the R5 had its line gradually reduced year after year up to 1996.
While the first official images and details came on December 10th 1971, the car’s release took place on January 28th 1972. The second generation went on sale in October 1984.
Renault phased out the second generation in 1996, mostly because the Clio was already successful.
Michel Boué. He designed the original R5 in on his spare time; once Renault executives saw the project, in 1971, they immediately approved it for production. Unfortunately, Boué died of cancer that same year, a few months before his creation went on production.
Yes. The only exception was the Renault 5 Turbo, which had extensive technical modifications for performance. One of them was adopting rear-wheel drive.