The Renault R5 Turbo Is a Hot Enough Hatch To Bake Croissant


Homologation specials hold a special place in the imaginations of car fans because they are, almost always, truly outrageous machines. The Renault R5 Turbo is right up there among the most outrageous of all time.

Based on the Renault 5, in many regards the first modern hatchback, it traded that hatch’s practicality for performance by sticking an engine behind the front seats. And although it was a teeny tiny 1.4-liter inline four, Renault sent 12 pounds of boost through it to make 160 hp.

This resulted in enormous turbo lag, but according to Jason Cammisa, the R5 Turbo is nevertheless well balanced and fun and once you learn to drive around the boost it can actually handle. That was reflected on the skidpad, where it managed 0.86 G. That was better by 0.05 G than the Ferraris of the day, which were only 0.05 G better than the average sedan of the day.

It was insane. As a result, the designers of the early cars made the interior insane, too. It featured a unique steering wheel, wild seats, and an aluminum roof and doors. All of which contributed to a frankly ridiculous price point.

Remember, the Renault 5 was smaller and cheaper than the Golfs of its day. It was more like a Polo. And still, the R5 Turbo cost half as much as the Ferrari 308 GTB. In today’s money, that would mean around $140,000.

Frankly, though, for the pleasure of driving past a Ferrari, experiencing that interior, and owning a homologation special, it all seems worth it.

Updated: January 30, 2021 — 1:35 pm

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