Features

Renault 5 Turbo group test - Five Stars - Renault 5 Turbo group test - page 2

36 years after its unveiling, we've gathered together 3 Renault 5 Turbos to see how the legend is faring

long

The engine sounds bigger and ballsier than its capacity suggests, with an endearing off-beat burble and gruff, throaty note when working hard. The boost gauge begins to twitch at around 3000rpm and whips round beyond 4000rpm, but you need full throttle to wake the little 1.4-litre pushrod motor. By modern standards the power and torque figures are rather feeble, the Turbo’s reputation setting an expectation that 160bhp can’t really hope to meet, yet once boosting it feels undeniably strong.

Subscribe to evo magazine

evo is 21 and to celebrate, we're returning to 1998 prices! Subscribe now to SAVE 39% on the shop price and get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £25!

During the getting-to-know-you phase, the chassis has a nice, neutral balance. The unassisted steering’s not too fast, but not too slow, either. The front end has decent bite and there’s roll and compliance in the suspension, so you feel it soak up the lateral load. You can kid yourself there’s little more to learn, until you decide to provoke it, at which point you discover there’s another side to the Turbo. One in which the tail is happy to take to control. 

You know you’re in a hatchback, and an old hatchback at that, but there are hints of 911 about it – an uncorrupted feel to the steering and a slightly pendulous response from the tail that you have to respect but can use to your advantage – that set it apart as something special and a car that takes some learning. It must have felt pretty darned quick in its day, not to mention a challenge to people’s perception of what Renault was about and a real threat to the established performance benchmarks of the day.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

If Monk’s T2 is a snapshot of all-original perfection, Tony Campbell’s extensively modified example is a lesson in detail, quality and authentic period upgrades. Like Monk’s car, B803 AGJ was originally supplied to the UK, and as was typical at the time, it was converted to right-hand drive by the first owner. Campbell acquired the car in 2012 and embarked upon a full nut-and-bolt restoration with a view to meeting Group 3 and 4 homologation regulations, so the car could be eligible for historic rallying. 

Using a bodyshell with Group 4-spec structural reinforcement and coilover suspension and a Group 3 engine with a ‘Cévennes’ exhaust manifold and intercooler, a modified Garrett T3 turbo and Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, it was built and developed by acknowledged classic Renault restorer JL Engineering. It bristles with energy and attitude, and Campbell’s take on the period ‘Gitanes Blondes’ livery is the icing on the cake. 

Stripped of most creature comforts but still a useable road car, it’s an altogether angrier proposition. All the inherent qualities and characteristics of Monk’s car remain, but the power delivery (220bhp @ 6900rpm) and handling balance are compressed into a tighter, more intense zone of performance. Harder to tap but a bigger thrill to experience, it’s much closer to the headbanger that legend would have you expect.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/audi/rs6

New Audi RS6 2020 review

The Audi RS6 has long appealed on its deeply desirable complement of attributes. Does this all-new model mess with the formula, or just build on it's …
27 Nov 2019
Visit/buying-advice/19675/used-car-deals-of-the-week

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
28 Nov 2019
Visit/best-buys/202007/best-sports-cars-2020

Best sports cars 2020

If you value driving thrills but can't stretch to the price of a true supercar, a sports car could be the ideal middle ground
29 Nov 2019
Visit/hyundai/201819/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-nurburgring
Hyundai i30 N

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Nurburgring

We brought the Hyundai i30 Fastback back to its spiritual home in Germany's Eifel mountains, where there is a racing track you might well have heard o…
7 Oct 2019