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Renault's R5 Turbo 3E for drifting

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Wild looking Renault drift concept car celebrates classic rally machine.

It's not as if we weren't already excited about the upcoming electric Renault 5. The successor to the hugely successful Zoe will get enticing eighties-retro styling to go with its improved electric performance and has already been previewed in delectably-styled prototype form.

However, Renault really wants to get enthusiasts' juices flowing for this new electric 5 and so it has decided to invoke the brand's rallying heyday for the upcoming Paris motor show and Chantilly Arts & Elegance event with this, the R5 Turbo 3E.

Monte Carlo Rally

One does not tread lightly on memories of the classic Renault 5 Turbo. This faintly ridiculous, and literally fire-spitting, rally car won the Monte Carlo rally in 1981 in the hands of the legendary Jean Ragnotti, and secured a place in car nuts' hearts by being a wild, mid-engined supercar disguised as a humble French family hatchback. The final, ultimate 5 Turbo Maxi racers had 380hp - more than some Porsches of the day.

That's exactly the power output of this new electric R5 Turbo 3E concept - 380hp doesn't sound like all that much these days, but it's backed up by 700Nm of instantaneous torque. The battery is a 42kWh pack, designed to give the 3E sufficient performance for several laps of a racetrack, or for a Ken-Block-esque 'gymkhana' drifting event. It's built on a tubular chassis, designed to FIA motorsport regulations and has a top speed of 200km/h. It's not really designed for straight-line speed though - the R5 Turbo RE is designed to drift. Renault has even fitted it with a special steering rack designed to make it easier to sling into a skid, and there are no fewer than ten mounting points for GoPro-style cameras, including brackets in the headlight mounts and on the wing mirrors.

Renault's Vice-President Design, Gilles Vidal said, "Renault 5 Turbo 3E combines ultra-tech design and wilful exuberance with numerous references to the world of car racing and video games. This combination propels the show car into modernity and technology, and it's at the frontier between the real and virtual realms. This pure electric 'drifter' demonstrates that electric cars can also be fun with incredible performance!"

Carbon-fibre body

While the R5 Turbo 3E might look, in silhouette, similar to the original R5 Turbo and Turbo 2, its body is now made entirely of carbon fibre, with the electric motor and battery mounted behind the two-seat cabin. There are massive air intakes on the rear wheelarches (just as there were on the original) for feeding cooling air to the electric motor and battery. The Turbo 3E is 2.02 metres wide, four metres long and 1.32 metres tall, which means it's a considerable 25mm wider than the original, but all you'll notice is the massive rear wing that gives the Turbo 3E an almost cartoonish appearance.

For maximum eighties effect when drifting, the Turbo 3E has pink, blue and yellow LED strips at the front and rear, which flash when it's sideways, while the stickers adorning the bodywork were inspired by retro video games. What looks like a giant air inlet on the bonnet is actually the cover for the charging port, while some sections of the body - such as just above the rear lights - have been left open so that you can peer in at the electric gubbins powering the Turbo 3E. The front fog lights, again a signature of the original, have been recreated in LED form.

Inside, there are carbon-fibre bucket seats, a safety harness and a steering wheel provided by racing components maker Sabelt. There's also - crucially - a massive fly-off handbrake, for tugging the Turbo 3E into a drift, which is painted Renault's signature bright yellow. That yellow also appears, along with pink, in the tartan fabric trim, which is once again an eighties nod. That steering wheel gets a light-up Renault logo, too, while other sections of the cabin are covered in Alcantara suede and even a black cork trim.

Digital 1980s interior

The original Renault 5 Turbo had a massive bank of analogue dials, ten in all, and these have been digitally replicated in the Turbo 3E with 'widget'-style screens. To start the car up, you press a gaming-style 'Free Play' button, while the various driving modes have been renamed "Turbo" (for drifting), "Track invader" (for playing), "Donut" (for 360° spins) and so forth.

The Turbo 3E even comes with its own teddy-bear. His name is Drifty. And now you know what we want for Christmas...

The Renault 5 Turbo 3E will also have a digital life, including the inevitable Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), while it will also appear in the universe of virtual games in Web3, the decentralised Internet where online platforms and services use a model based on blockchain.

The Renault 5 Turbo 3E will be shown off first at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance 2022 contest, on 25th September. For maximum French-ness, the model and driver accompanying the R5 Turbo 3E will wear previously unreleased suits created by La Fameuse, a fashion designer that has built a name for himself by turning existing garments into one-of-a-kind sporty and classy apparel. These suits use Renault's vintage signs and colours and will feature original logos and branded T-shirts, combined with today's style. They were designed as contraries and counterparts: white for the woman and black for the man, with the opposite colour on the arm and leg bands; with X-shaped insets on the woman's legs and diamond-shaped insets on the man's legs. The fabric is padded "to befit the sportwear universe and combined with a printed Renault monogram."



Published on September 22, 2022
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