Renault continues to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its R5 supermini with the unveiling of a one-off battery-powered drift car, whose design is based on the Renault 5 Turbo design of the 1980s.
One of a number of R5-inspired concepts revealed this year as part of the anniversary celebrations, the R5 Turbo 3E is the most extreme of the old R5 yet, with superior aerodynamic additions and video game-inspired design cues.
The name – Turbo 3E – refers to the fact that the concept follows from the rally-winning Turbo and Turbo 2, with the letter “E” providing a hint of the powertrain.
Even in its era, the Renault 5 Turbo was very different from the simple and spartan original work of designer Michel Boyle, who died before the R5 went on sale. Turbo 3E goes further.
The entire body is made of carbon fibre, and while it shares the distinctive look of the old R5 Turbo, it was recently updated.
The massive rear spoiler immediately catches your eye, while the front and side splitters also work in the name of downforce while making the 3E look more useful.
The boxy wheel arches are about 25 cm wider than those of the old Renault 5 Turbo to accommodate the wider wheels and give the Turbo 3E an extra presence. The air intakes characteristic of the old car are kept integrated into the rear wheel arches, to direct the air back in to cool the powertrain.
Other modern touches that won’t make the 3E look out of place in a cyberpunk future include a full-width headlight bar, embossed LED front fog lights – a modern twist on the original – and blue and yellow strips at the front and behind that flash when the car is moving sideways.
What looks like an air intake on the hood is actually a charging port for the 3E’s 42 kWh battery, which provides enough power for the 3E to perform a few laps on track in a gym screen. in American Drift King Ken Block.
This battery and the two electric motors it provides are not hidden away and, like the old mid-engine R5 Turbo, are mounted behind the seats and are easily visible when staring through the glass windows or through the view-out hatch above the taillights.
Combined, the two engines develop 375 horsepower, a figure close to the same as in the R5 Turbo Maxi final racers from the ’80s, although with 516 pound-feet of instant torque on click, it should feel a lot more energized under acceleration, With 0 -62 mph it dispensed in 3.5 seconds.
The interior features small ’80s-inspired accents with yellow, tartan and a resident teddy bear known as Drifty. However, the playful design takes a back seat (figuratively – it’s a two-seater) into an interior that’s more focused on the 3E’s role as a drift car.
The entire car is built around a tubular chassis and the interior features an FIA-approved rolling cage system, with carbon-fiber racing bucket seats, a Sabelt full seat belt and a specialized steering wheel (with a Renault head-lit Renault badge).
There’s a foldable vertical handbrake for easy convincing of the 3E in a glide, something the steering rack was designed for as well.
A tribute to the bank of 10 analog numbers found in the old Renault 5 Turbo is paid off by 10 widget-style digital displays, which the company says is another element in the gaming-inspired 3E.
To start the car, the driver presses the “Free Play” button on the center console, while the driving modes that change the control and power delivery are named “Turbo” (for drift), “Track Invader” (for fast turns), “Donut” (for turning) 360 degrees) etc.
Understanding the visual appeal of a drift car like the 3E, the designers added 10 small camera mounting points inside and out to record the car in action.
Another thing Renault clearly understands is the value of keeping the Renault 5 in the public eye for the time being.
Scheduled to go on sale in 2024 is Renault’s replacement for the electric Zoe Supermini. It will be based on the vintage-inspired Renault 5 concept announced in 2021.
The new Renault 5 will sit on the same Renault-Nissan Alliance CMF-B EV platform as the next-generation Nissan Micra (also slated to be built in France), but even more enticing is the prospect of a heated Alpine version.
While the R5 sports car with the Alpine badge debuted in 1976, it was known in the UK as Renault 5 Gordini as Chrysler Europe, then owned the rights to the British Alpine name.
For now, though, the Renault 5 Turbo 3e is making its debut at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance event in France over the next few days before appearing at the Paris Motor Show in October, where Renault will unveil another car inspired by one of its Its classics – the new Renault 4.