Renault 5 GT Turbo: Spotted

Ah, the 1980s - the golden age of the affordable performance car. The hot hatch really found its form in Thatcher's decade, didn't it? With pocket rockets like the Mk2 Golf GTI and Ford Fiesta XR2 providing laugh-out-loud thrills for a fraction of the price of a proper sports car. Many ended up going backwards into a hedge, sure. But you had a bloody good time right up to the point of impact.

The Renault 5 GT Turbo was among the most crashable cars to fall into this class. It was cheap - tin can French cars were some of the best value back then - easily tunable thanks to its addition of a blower, and a real handful when pressed. Survival rates were, to be frank, not good. The number of never smashed up, unmodified and well-kept GT Turbos is low, which is a shame.

But it does mean that the few which do still exist are liable to be in great condition. No longer is the 5 a car to be laden with big rims, sub woofers and decals, as per the 1990s; it's a modern classic with genuine driver appeal. That's in the old school sense, of course, because the 5 GT Turbo demands respect from its driver. It'll bite if not.

Even today, 122hp from a turbocharged 1.4-litre engine is worthy, as is 122lb ft of torque from 3,750rpm. But what really made this boosted Renault so exciting was the way in which it delivered that grunt - in one fell swoop, following a lengthy dose of lag. When the punch arrived, the car was quick enough to hit 62mph in eight seconds and sprint onto a top speed of 128mph. Plenty fast enough for a car with pencil-like A-pillars.

Torque steer, lift off over steer, cocked inside wheels were all up the 5 GT Turbo's sleeve, but it also cost peanuts to run, returning almost 40mpg if you stayed off the boost. Ok, it was loud, firm and loosely put together, but when it came to out-and-out thrills, nothing in this bracket could top it. Plus, it's got enough squared-off edges to look properly 80s cool.

Today's Spotted is a fine example - you only need to look at the redness of its paintwork and those spotless wheels to notice that. The interior is time machine-immaculate, while the engine bay... well, it's like someone has cleaned it with a toothbrush. Plus, the most recent owner of this near 24k-mile-old left-hand-drive car imported it from Southern Japan only last year, so it's spent most of its life in better climates, hence the lack of rust or corrosion.

Our 1989 hero also comes with its original pair of keys, owner's manual and even the factory-fit stereo. As far as originality's concerned, then, this hot hatch has got all boxes ticked. Perhaps it's destined for a collection, as so many of these 80s icons are. Although at Β£14,950, we'd hope it'll find a home where it's lairyness continues to be appreciated on the road - at asensible distance from the hedgerows...

1,397cc, inline-4 turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 122@5,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 122@3,750rpm
MPG: 39.8
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1989
Recorded mileage: 26,000
Price new: Β£10,350
Yours for: Β£14,950

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Comments (75) Join the discussion on the forum

  • mersontheperson 14 Feb 2019

    Love these, but this is the worst color imho

    You would have thought with moder technology you could replace the turbo system with something to get much better linear performance out of it

  • Cold 14 Feb 2019

    Renault UK advert: 0-60 in 7.5 secs, meanwhile here is some music - and some kittens.

    What's Yours Called?

  • coppice 14 Feb 2019

    ISTR most magazines had them down in the high 6s to 60 ...Nearly bought one, but comedy hour turbo lag and crappy feeling cockpit put me off.

    Bought Uno Turbo instead, followed by another.Loved them - despite in/out clutch;breaking clutch cable every 10 k miles; random lecccy problems ; traction problems (wheelspin in 1-4 gears on wet roads) and awful ride. Forgive it anything for superb seats ; great dash and smooth and ultra responsive, virtually lag free engine with silly go .Drove it to San Marino GP in 87 - what a trip that was...

  • Flat6 14 Feb 2019

    mersontheperson said:
    Love these, but this is the worst color imho

    You would have thought with moder technology you could replace the turbo system with something to get much better linear performance out of it
    Not half as spiky as the article would have you believe, both in boost terms and handling characteristics. I covered over 100k in the two I owned and whilst immense fun I always thought they were pretty forgiving even when pushed and never found them wayward in the way the article portrays them..

  • VonSenger 14 Feb 2019

    I had a few, mega little things when they worked.

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