A star is reborn as Renault goes back to the future
In the early 1970s, people everywhere were held transfixed by major boxing bouts like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fighting in Madison Square Garden, the same two battling it out at the Thrilla in Manila and, of course, George Foreman and Ali in what became known as the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire.
At home during the same period, there was another titanic battle taking place – this one of the automotive variety - with two small cars fighting for supremacy: Renault with the 5 and Fiat with its 127. It was the start of what was to become the supermini era.
But now, as Renault moves into a new era, the French carmaker has disclosed the Renault 5 is about to make a comeback – called the Prototype, underlining the ethos of Renault’s new direction.
Revealing its strategy for the next five years and beyond, the plan will see Renault evolving and embracing modernity to become a tech, service and clean energy brand.
By 2025 the company will launch 14 core vehicles: seven full electric and seven in the C and D segments (small family cars and large cars, respectively). All new models will be available with an electric or hybrid version.
Renault says it will continue its leadership in the transition to cleaner and more sustainble energy. The soul of the Renault brand is firmly in its roots, and Gilles Vidal's design team were inspired by the iconic cult model from Renault’s past, the R5.
The Renault 5 Prototype looks to reconnect with this past and draw inspiration to find the spirit of those glorious times without merely replicating it, says Renault, which plans to democratise the electric car in Europe with a modern approach influenced by one of the most popular and essential cars of its era.
The prototype looks set to be a charming, compact city car which takes one of Renault’s timeless successes and develops it to be fit for the future with a modern, 100 per cent electric twist.
It looks like Renault has retained the sense of fun and mischievous character, taking some of the strong features from the original design. The modern approach is evident in the chosen finishes and materials, which are inspired by various electronics, furniture and sports.
The R5 is immediately recognisable, but thanks to a modern treatment of lines and flush surfaces with futuristic detailing, the result is in keeping with current times.
Additonally, the styling elements taken from the original design hide some of the more modern features - for example, the bonnet air intake hides the charging hatch, the rear lights include aero flaps and the fog lamps in the bumper are daytime running lights.
There is even a nod to the original ‘5’ on the side vent, the wheels and rear logo.
The front end and the textile roof are influenced by the world of furniture and are said to be full of ‘French charm’, with a hint of mischief and character that Renault claims tugs at the heartstrings.
The front and rear logos light up, bringing the car ‘to life’. The French flag situated in the rear-view mirrors underline the ‘invented in France’ ethos of the vehicle, and the name displayed on the small transparent screen on the dashboard provides that final flourish.
Leader in the European electric vehicle (EV) market with more than 10 years of in-depth experience in electric mobility, services and more than 300,000 vehicles sold, Renault also invented E-Tech, a hybrid technology including more than 150 patents and drawing on the brand’s electrical and F1 experience.
While the orginal Renault 5 arrived here in 1974 with a 956cc engine and a price tag of just over £1,500, there is little doubt that the 2021 version of the 5 will cost a lot more.
Although the main focus may be on the Renault brand, the company also announced plans for Dacia and Alpine.
Dacia, which will continue to offer a unique, genuine, no-frills experience, released details of its new Bigster concept, a roomy, robust 4.6-metre-long SUV.
Renault Sports Cars and Renault Sport Racing have also joined forces under the Alpine flagship brand.