Irish commercial for the Renault 5
The Renault 5 (also called the R5) was a supermini produced by the French automaker Renault in two generations between 1972 and 1996. It was sold in many markets, usually as the Renault 5 but in North America as Le Car from 1976 to 1986.
The Renault 5 was introduced in January 1972. It was Renault’s first supermini, and its most prominent feature was its styling by Michel Boue (who died before the car’s release), which included a steeply sloping rear hatchback and front fascia. Boue had wanted the taillights to go all the way up from the bumper into the C-pillar, in the fashion of the much later Fiat Punto and Volvo 850 Estate / Wagon, but the lights remained at a more conventional level.
Underneath the skin, it borrowed heavily from the Renault 4, using a longitudinally-mounted engine driving the front wheels with torsion bar suspension. OHV engines were borrowed from the Renault 4, Renault 8 and Renault 16, and ranged from 850 to 1400 cc.
Early R5s used a dashboard-mounted gearshift (the gearbox is in front of the engine), but this was later dropped in favour of a floor mounted shifter. Door handles were formed by a cut-out in the door panel and B-pillar.
Other versions of the first generation included the Renault 5 Alpine (Gordini in the United Kingdom), Alpine/Gordini Turbo, and a four-door sedan version called the Renault 7 and built by FASA-Renault of Spain.
The Renault “Le Car” was marketed the United States by American Motors (AMC) where it competed against other front-wheel-drive subcompacts such the Honda Civic (which was also introduced in 1972) and the newly introduced Volkswagen Rabbit. The American introduction was delayed until 1976.
The Le Car name was ridiculed among Francophones, as it literally means “the coach”. The U.S. version featured a 1397 cc engine that produced 55 hp (41 kW), and a more conventional floor-mounted shifter was substituted for the dash-mounted unit. Sales continued through 1986. In the U.S. the car sold for about $5,000.
Second generation (1985–1996)
The second generation Renault 5, often referred to as the Supercinq or Superfive, appeared in 1985. Although the bodyshell was completely new (the platform was based on that of the Renault 9/11), the classic 5 styling touches were left unchanged; styling was the work of Marcello Gandini. The biggest change was the adoption of a transversely-mounted powertrain taken directly from the 9 and 11, plus a less sophisticated suspension design, which used MacPherson struts.
The second-generation R5 also spawned a panel van version, known as the Renault Extra (In UK/Ireland), Renault Express (France, Spain, Portugal, Italy) or as the Renault Rapid (Mainly in German speaking countries like Germany and Austria). This car was intended to replace the R4 F6 panel van, production of which had ceased in 1986.
A “hot hatch” version, the GT Turbo, was a car beloved of boy racers through the 1980s and 1990s. Sporting 115 PS (85 kW/113 hp) in the Phase 1, the Phase 2 GT Turbo later brought 5 extra horsepower to the table, a slightly altered torque band and higher reliability. Coming from a simple 1397 cc OHV engine, this was considered quite a feat. Due to strict emission demands in certain European countries, the GT Turbo was not available everywhere. Because of this Renault decided to use the naturally aspirated 1.7 liter from the Renault 19, which utilized multipoint fuel injection. Under the name GTE, it produced 95 PS (70 kW/94 hp). Although not as fast as the turbo model, it featured the same interior and exterior appearance, as well as identical suspension and brakes.
The model was starting to show its age by 1990, when it was effectively replaced by the more modern and better-built Clio, which was an instant sales success across Europe. Production of the R5 was transferred to the Revoz factory in Slovenia when the Clio was launched, and it remained on sale as a budget choice called the Campus until the car’s 24-year production run finally came to an end in 1996. The Campus name was revived in 2005 with the Renault Clio II. The Renault Clio II remains in production alongside the Renault Clio III, as the R5 did with the first Renault Clio.
Info taken from Wikipedia