Micropost: 1988-1991 Renault 5 GTR

This is the poor man’s GTX. It had a 1.3 litre four cylinder engine producing 55 hp.

1988-1991 Renault 5 GTR.
1988-1991 Renault 5 GTR.

The 5 had five-speeds and disc/drum brakes. It’s a kind of warmish hatch with go-faster front seats from the hotter cars and the same super-plasticky dashboard as the other 5’s. The dash theme is a smaller-scale version of the one found in the R25 which wasn’t a lot better but certainly wider and deeper: Tokyo by night, as “Car” described it.

Here’s the front, with the asymmetrical badge as used on the early R25’s and 21’s. Citroen did this with the XM in 1988. The small asymmetry fad went away thereafter as people expect bilateral symmetry in their cars.

Assymetry: 1988-1991 Renault 5 GTR
Assymetry: 1988-1991 Renault 5 GTR

And here’s the back. They missed a trick by not running the lights all the way up the C-pillar.

Note the plastic filler panels.
Note the plastic filler panels.

It’s pretty neat ID. Very product-design in its rigour. It isn’t only VW that did deadly serious. The Clio came next and Renault reverted to bland convention, losing the chance to stabilise the look of their most important car, as Golf did: every generation identifiably Golfy. Since the Clio they’ve altered the style of the cars with each model so the Clio doesn’t really mean more than a size and price point.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

17 thoughts on “Micropost: 1988-1991 Renault 5 GTR”

  1. This is actually a very well designed car. I like how clean and refined it is, and how flush everything is integrated. And they managed to transform the first R5’s design into a much more modern form language without losing any character.

    It would look wrong with a symmetrical badge, wouldn’t it? Just like the facelifted XM and AX did. In today’s anti-modern design landscape, this kind of subtle asymmetry doesn’t have a place to exist anymore, unfortunately.

    1. I was disappointed with the ‘Supercinq’ after the original 5, but in hindsight I agree that it is very good. Rather than start with something new (which is what I thought they should have done at the time), Gandini and Opron paid tribute to Michel Boué’s original, yet gave it its own character.

    2. The more I looked over the pictures of this car, the better the design became. Deceptively simple, with clean surfaces and flowing, consistent shut lines. Simple things like the line from the base of the windscreen, across the base of the A pillar, round to the glass line on the doors. So much better than the overly fussy treatment of many modern cars.

      It even has proper bumpers, ones that can survive the rigours of French parking.

  2. I agree with Simon on asymmetry – my AX was an early one with the chevrons towards the right (as you face the car). I’ve always liked Alfas for the number plate positioning (as I have written before, would that Mazda did the same on my 3). My old Cinq Sporting had a single black air intake on the driver’s (left) side of the front bumper, which added quirk and character in a ‘just enough’ manner. I think it’s time asymmetry made a revival.

  3. Oh, and I always thought the Supercinq was an attractive and effective modern homage to the Cinq.

  4. Always loved this little car. I am pretty sure that the original design had the tail lamps all the way up the c pillar but they didn’t get the go ahead for production.

    1. I’m not even sure about this. I always found it logical how the black plastic claddings of the Supercinq echo the predecessor’s air vents.

    2. Sorry Simon, I meant in Boue’s original drawings I thought he had lights instead of those vents.

    3. The prototype has a horizontal light bar – the series version is far better.

  5. We must be overdue a “new Renault 5” story in AutoBild. The rear engined Twingo was supposed to be referential, but it was lost on me.

    The Golf point is a good one. The Supercinq was very German in being evolutionary – no other car-making nation does evolution like the Germans. I’m wary of retro-ness but the idea of keeping the spirit of the Boué original appeals.

    There was no Manzu in the Fiat Uno, but others have given it a shot:


    Sergio should take note, but what do I know?

    1. The Fiat 127 was the benchmark in its time. Ford even used it as a yardstick for their Fiesta. What a lovely update in the link.

  6. I’ve always loved the honestly of these Renaults. Great looking cars to this day.

    1. How about the BMW X-coupe from 2001?

      But I would say even a bog standard Nissan Cube is more asymmetric than the Jaguar D-type.

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