How Renault Put a Turbo in the Trunk and Made the R5 Turbo
The greatest thing about French cars is the sheer madness involved in their conception. They burst with charming idiosyncrasies and delightfully bizarre engineering solutions. Whether on a small scale, such as with the Renault R16’s asymmetrical wheelbases, or the full boulangerie GS Birotor, which featured Citroen’s trademark oleopneumatic suspension, inboard brakes, single-spoked steering wheel, and the pièce de résistance, a rotary engine—French engineers clearly come from a different galaxy.
Another wonderful example of Gallic design weirdness is the Renault 5 Turbo. Originally conceived in response to Lancia’s beautiful Stratos and its rallying successes, the R5 Turbo was nuttier than a gâteau aux noix.
Rather than design a new mid-engined platform from the ground-up, Renault simply took their existing 5 hatchback, removed the FWD drivetrain, added Gandini-penned rear fender flares, then stuffed a turbocharged four cylinder with nearly 300% more power than a standard 5’s largest engine into the space where groceries normally reside.