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Renault 5 GT Turbo: Spotted

This French hot hatch hero has returned from Japan in immaculate condition

By Sam Sheehan / Thursday, February 14, 2019

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 £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...


SPECIFICATIONS - RENAULT 5 GT TURBO
Engine:
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: £10,350
Yours for: £14,950

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