The most retro video game-inspired EV we wish we could buy.
Remember the Renault 5? Chances are, if you remember it in the US, you'll know it as 'Le Car' - that was the name of the US-spec version that arrived in 1976. If you were an ardent fan of all things rally back then, you probably had your name down for one of 3,000 Renault 5 Turbos that were meant to come stateside but never did. The R5 Turbo was an absolute monster built for Group 3 homologation purposes with a rear-mounted turbo-four measuring 1.4 liters in displacement in stock form and putting out 158 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. In a short-wheelbase car with rear-wheel drive, it was a weapon and one that could bite you, hard, if you didn't treat it with respect. That was a legacy that was continued with the Renault Clio V6.
Well, Renault is now reviving the 5 as an electric compact, and following a teaser last week, the French brand has just unveiled a concept version of the modern R5 Turbo - a widebody electric drift machine with a fat wing and mega power - a fitting way to celebrate Le Car's 50th anniversary.
Renault, like just about every other brand, is going electric but wants to pay homage to its storied history before it does, and with the Renault 5 being reborn as a production EV, a concept of this ilk is the perfect way to do so.
Dubbed the Renault 5 TURBO 3E - because it acts as a successor to the R5 Turbo 1 and 2 and is now electric - the concept blends history with modernity and takes inspiration from the worlds of motor racing and video games. Based on the Renault 5 Prototype from 2021, the R5 TURBO 3E is built around a tube-frame chassis with a flat skateboard base platform. An FIA-spec roll cage is built into the shell for additional safety and rigidity, given the concept's focus on pure motorsport.
Like the original R5 Turbo iterations, the motor is mounted on the rear axle. In this case, two electric motors power each wheel, with total outputs measuring 375 hp and 516 lb-ft. Housed within the 100-inch wheelbase is a 42-kWh lithium-ion battery pack to help keep the weight down. The resultant figure of 2,160 lbs makes it only a smidge heavier than a Mitsubishi Mirage, but with nearly five times the power. The battery, for the record, makes up 1,146 of those pounds.
Zero to 62 mph takes 3.5 seconds in default mode, with a top speed of 124 mph attainable. A full charge takes two hours with a 32-amp, 380-volt charger. No range figure is claimed, with Renault only claiming that the battery has "plenty of capacity for several laps or a raging gymkhana." And therein lies the R5 TURBO 3E's purpose - motorsport, and in particular, drifting. That's why it has up to 50 degrees of steering lock and a dedicated Drift Mode (called Turbo) that drops the 0-62 mph sprint to 3.9 seconds. Other drive modes include "Track Invader" and "Donut," which are pretty self-explanatory.
Inside, and true to its predecessor, the R5 TURBO 3E seats only two occupants, this time in carbon fiber bucket seats. Aiding its driftability, there's an upright drift handbrake, while the Alcantara-clad steering wheel is devoid of any auxiliary controls and features an offset-positioned version of Renault's new retro logo.
The digital instrumentation comprises 10 mini screens - representing the 10 analog dials from the Renault5 Turbo 2 of yesteryear. Each acts as a widget with styling inspired by the gaming universe - a theme carried throughout with vivid pops of yellow and purple. In place of a start/stop button, a "Free Play" button lets the fun begin. It's not all modern, however, and as a nod to the 1980s, there's black and grey tartan cloth on the seats and dashboard.
Outside, the widebody measures 79.5 inches across, thanks to iconic air inlets on the rear haunches. The bodywork is all carbon fiber and is completely unmistakable. Massive vents at the front aid cooling and downforce, while a gargantuan rear wing showcases the motorsport influence. The retro square fog lights up front comprise four clusters of 16 LEDs, but the front end also gets more gaming-inspired elements like pink, blue, and yellow LED strips that light up while the concept drifts. Even the camouflage vinyl on the bodywork is inspired by retro video games.
A cool, but completely unnecessary touch - it's a show car, so it doesn't need to make sense - are pink plexiglass windows with "La vie en rose" on the rear left - translating as "to see life through rose-tinted glasses."
This is a concept that doesn't take itself too seriously, which is why it comes with its own mascot, a teddy bear named Drifty, who Renault says is "there to relax and comfort passengers overwhelmed by the show car's muscle."
The R5 TURBO 3E concept will make its public debut at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance 2022 contest on September 25, where it will be driven in a parade by a driver clothed in previously-unreleased suits designed by fashion designer La Fameuse.
"Renault 5 TURBO 3E combines ultra-tech design and wilfully exuberance with numerous references to the world of car racing and video games," says Renault design director, Gilles Vidal. "This combination propels the show car into modernity and technology, and it is at the frontier between the real and virtual realms. This pure electric "drifter" demonstrates that electric cars can also be fun with incredible performance!"
There's no word on whether it previews a production hot hatch, but we can only hope it does, given the Renault 5's return in the EV era. This may be the coolest concept we've seen since the Hyundai N Vision 74 concept.
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