The fuel crisis, along with safety concerns and government regulations, had brought the muscle car era to an end. The large, gas-guzzling engines had lost their popularity and their flare and a new breed of sports cars began to emerge. Many manufacturers began offering exhaust-driven superchargers which gave a boost of adrenalin only when needed. A modest driving style kept them rather fuel efficient.
Turbocharging was another popular option. General Motors had used this engineering feature on their air-cooled six-cylinder Corvairs and the Oldsmobile Cutlass V8. BMW was among the first to use the turbocharger during the early 1970s and soon was followed by Porsche with their 911 Turbo, introduced at the 1975 Paris Motor Show. For 1978, Saab, Mercedes-Benz and Buick had turbos. Ford, Audi, and several other companies began offering their own versions.
For Renault, their turbocharged car was the pocket-sized R5 Turbo. It was powered by a 1397cc turbocharged 'Cleon' engine mounted amidship directly behind the drivers seat. It was clothed in an R5 shell though it was vastly different underneath. In standard guise the car offered 160 horsepwoer. With the first 400 examples produced, the Renaul R5 was homologated for FIA Group 4 competition. Development of the engine continued, resulting in an increase in horsepower to 185, then 210, and more in a 'Maxi' version. Jean Ragnotti won the Monte Carlo Rally on the car's first WRC outing.
At the 1982 Paris Auto Show, a less-expensive version, named the 'Turbo 2', was introduced. These were never regularly imported; rather, Sun International Racing, specialists in small manufacturer qualification and niche market importations, brought in a few as 'gray market' cars.By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2008
The Renault R5 actually started from a picture of a Renault R4 accidentally found by Michel Boue that stimulated his imagination and aided him in sketching the car. After a few lines of the pencil, he had a new car drawn right before his eyes. He then sowed the sketch to his friends Pros-dam and Georges who added the needed framework for the vehicle. It took only two days to finish the design of the car. Upon its release the public clamored for it immediately. The Renault R5 was branded as one of the finest crafted models from Renault. Unfortunately, Boue passed away from cancer and never had a chance to ever view his greatest achievement.
The Renault R5 was aimed at the younger generation and was an instant success that appealed to everyone, especially women. The R5 is a two door hatchback that came equipped with a front wheel drive system. This system remained unchanged for several years, and the majority of the changes were made in the later models to keep up with the changes in demands of auto buyers and users. From 1972 through 1984, the Renault 5 was one of the original first French-made vehicles that achieved sales success in the U.K. market and a total of 216,199 units were sold.
Also called the Renault 5, the R5 was a supermini that was produced in two generations between 1972 through 1996. it was sold in a variety of markets, usually as the Renault 5. From 1976 through 1986 the car sold as Le Car in North America. Unveiled in January of 1972 the R5 featured a steeply sloping rear hatchback and front fascia. The R5's designer Boue had envisioned the taillights to go all the way up from the bumper into the C-pillar, but the lights remained at a much more conventional level.
Much of the features were carried over from the Renault 4, and it used a longitudinally-mounted engine driving the front wheels with torsion bar suspension. Ranging from 850 to 1400 cc, OHV engines were borrowed from the Renault 4, Renault 8 and Renault 16. The earliest models utilized a dashboard-mounted gearshift that eventually was dropped in lieu of a floor mounted shifter. A cut-out in the door panel and B-pillar formed the door handles.
The first generation R5 included a variety of models, these were the Renault 5 Alpine Gordini in the UK), Alpine/Gorini Turbo and the Renault 7 (built by FASA-Renault of Spain).
Marketed in the U.S. by AMC, the Renault 'Le Car' was created to compete against other front-wheel-drive subcompacts like the Honda Civic and the Volkswagen Rabbit. Unfortunately the American introduction was delayed until 1976. The name 'Le Car' basically meant 'the coach' and the U.S. version came with a 1397 cc I4 engine that produced 55 hp and came with a more conventional floor-mounted shifter that was substituted for the dash-mounted unit. The Le Car sold for around $5,000 and sales continued until 1986.
In Iran the original Renault 5 continued to be produced by SAIPA and Pars Khodro, dubbed the ‘Sepand'. The Sepand was replaced by the P.K. in 2002 and though it used the slightly updated original bodywork, the styling of the vehicle was very similar to the styling of the second generation. The New P.K. replaced the P.K. which has only featured slight updates in body style.
The Renault 5 Turbo was a sporting version that was introduced and in its 1.4 liter Alpine version was raced in Group 2. Though it was seriously underpowered against other work cars, the Turbo was a second and first in the 1977 Monte-Carlo rally. A year later, the rally Group 4 was introduced and was dubbed the Renault 5 Turbo. Unfortunately the Group 4 was a mid-engined and rear wheel drive, the vehicle carried very little technical resemblance to the road-going model. The 5 Turbo shared only the door panels with the standard version. The vehicle won the Monte Carlo Rally for its first race in World Rally Championship and was driven by Jean Ragnotti.
Later the Renault 5 Turbo was updated drastically by mounting a turbocharged engine behind the driver in what was typically the passenger compartment and created a mid-engined rally vehicle. Eventually morphing with the Renault 5 Maxi Turbo, the Renault 5 Turbo became a vehicle with up to 400 bhp that was produced from an updated, enlarged and highly modified version of the original 1397 cc Renault 5 engine.
Production ended in the 1990s and Renault R5 cars can still be spotted on the road today and are fondly missed.By Jessica Donaldson