Rallying Yesterday, Drifting Tomorrow

Renault carries on celebrating the R5’s 50th anniversary. This time, it has reimagined the iconic Turbo version as a videogame-like electric drift car

The R5 Turbo 3E uses a bespoke camo paint job (source: Renault)

Madonna has a unique way of ignoring her age. Instead of falling into the comfort zone of reinterpreting classic songs over and over, she reinvents herself. She ventures into new genres, updates her image, finds new partners… She adapts herself to the current times. However, as impressive as that is, the best part is that she does not forget those classic songs. She becomes a new Madonna, but still Madonna.

It seems like Renault is trying to build a pop diva of its own. Car fans know that the R5 was very important decades ago, and that it may appear again in the automaker’s electrified future. Therefore, we know that its 50th anniversary is a big deal for several reasons. However, Renault does not want to trap the car in its “classic songs”. Nor does it want to build something new. It has made a new R5, but still an R5.

The Turbo model had only a basic visual resemblance to the regular Renault 5 (source: WheelsAge)
The Turbo model had only a basic visual resemblance to the regular Renault 5 (source: WheelsAge)

What is the Renault 5 Turbo?

The first iteration arrived in 1980 as a homologation special. At that time, Lancia was having success with the Stratos, a mid-engined coupé, and Renault wanted in. It executed the project along with Bertone and set no barriers against its mechanical improvement. The result was an almost entirely new car which only kept the front half of the regular Renault 5’s parts. At first, it came in unique schemes of blue or red.

1982 Renault 5 Turbo 2 (source: WheelsAge)
1982 Renault 5 Turbo 2 (source: WheelsAge)

The engine was the Cléon-Fonte 1.4L I4 paired to Bosch’s K-Jetronic fuel injection and Garrett’s T3 turbocharger – 158 hp of power and 163 lb-ft of torque. Renault installed it in mid position to improve weight distribution and did so by removing the rear seats. It also gave it rear-wheel drive by installing the R30’s five-speed gearbox with a 180° rotation. The suspension came from the Alpine A310 V6.

Renault only needed to build 400 street-legal units to comply with Group 4 homologation. However, the most powerful car produced in France so far had such a demand that it decided to carry on. The company made a Turbo 2 edition using more stock R5 parts and replacing some others with cheaper options so as to reduce its price. The car had similar performance: 6.9 s from 0 to 62 mph, and 120 mph of top speed.

The Turbo 3E comes with camera mounting points on the outside, so you can record your drifting adventures (source: Renault)
The Turbo 3E comes with camera mounting points on the outside, so you can record your drifting adventures (source: Renault)

What is the Renault 5 Turbo 3E?

If you found the 5 Diamant concept too delicate and fancy, the Turbo 3E is the opposite. This is a new car, built from scratch with key design elements that remind of the original one. The external design also uses modern-day items such as camouflage paint, flat wheels with specific graphic design, and pink and blue LEDs that blink when the car is drifting. Renault aimed at a 1980s and 1990s videogame vibe with that.

The Turbo 3E's tubular structure (source: Renault)
The Turbo 3E’s tubular structure (source: Renault)

The biggest difference lies inside. The Turbo 3E uses a tubular structure with a flat base and anti-roll bars. There are two electric motors behind the seats to power the rear wheels, and the battery pack lies flat on the floor. The model makes 380 hp of power and 516 lb-ft of torque and has a 42-KWh battery pack. The automaker claims it can travel 109 yards in 3.5 seconds and reaches the top speed of 124 mph.

The cabin features bucket seats, steering wheel (with a logo that lights up) and safety harness provided by Sabelt. The room has black tartan with a graphic effect based on Renault’s logo and adds pink and yellow accents. The gauge cluster is now ten digital screens with Pixel Art style. Retro videogame references also appear on the start button, renamed Free Play. The 3E offers three driving modes focused on drifting.

Instead of a tablet-like screen, the R5 Turbo 3E uses ten smaller ones to represent all the gauges (source: Renault)
Instead of a tablet-like screen, the R5 Turbo 3E uses ten smaller ones to represent all the gauges (source: Renault)

Ready… Set… Drift!

The initial steps to enjoy this Renault 5 are recharging its batteries, using the socket on the hood opening, and setting your cameras on the ten mounting points throughout the body. While it recharges, you might want to appreciate its electric mechanism through the opening above the taillights. Or you could look for the Plexiglass window where Renault added an Easter egg – it is a sticker reading “La vie en rose”.

The Turbo 3E’s rear wing (source: Renault)

Once you enter the car, you should set it to the Turbo mode to drift. The R5 will help you through its steering wheel, which has over 50 degrees of steering angle. Besides, the large air inlets on the front end and, more specifically, the gigantic rear wing, make sure you will have enough downforce. That is a key component for drifting because it increases the weight on the rear axle and, thus, its traction capacity.

Once you feel like taking a break, you can enjoy the company of Drifty, a teddy bear Renault added to the car to “relax and comfort passengers overwhelmed by the show car’s muscle.” Besides that, the company will engage in the NFT fad: there will be a collection of digital assets in the Web3 platform. Purchasing them will get you “exclusive advantages and rewards”. What do you think of the Renault 5 Turbo 3E?

The Renault 5 Turbo 3E at its first public appearance in Chantilly, France (source: Renault)

2022 Arts & Elegance Concours

Shortly after the digital presentation, the R5 Turbo 3E went to the French city of Chantilly. It took part of the Arts & Elegance concours and won the Public Award. The car had the company of a model wearing a La Fameuse driver’s suit, “a company renowned for drawing on what exists to design unique clothing that is both sporty and elegant.” The next appearance will be at the Paris Motor Show on October 17th.

Author Profile

Danillo Almeida has explored his passion for cars in two distinct ways. The first one is his graduation course in Mechanical Engineering, which will hopefully lead to a job position in the field. The other one is expressing his knowledge and opinions on the matter through writing. Almeida has already contributed to blogs, stores, and websites in general writing automotive content in many formats.

  • Is The Minivan Making a Comeback?
    We all know about their rise and fall. However, when everyone thought minivans were becoming history, they find a market niche with which to attract the spotlights again
  • The Ramcharger In Between
    Stellantis is releasing a plug-in hybrid pickup these days. There was the two-door SUV from the 1970s to the 1990s. But do you think that was all?
  • Moose Test Became Famous 26 Years Ago
    Under the technical name of "evasive manoeuvre test", it has been popular in the specialized press since the 1970s. However, it became famous in 1997 after a particularly serious case