Hammond's icons: Renault 5 GT Turbo
See what Richard thinks of the wayward eighties teenager's choice...
Posted: 22 May 2013
To be fair, the first cars used an eight-valve 1397cc pushrod engine that had its roots in the Fifties and was hardly a pinnacle of sophistication. Turbo lag was an issue, and it wasn't exactly a razor-sharp instrument on the track. But who cares? Sitting in a pub and complaining nonchalantly about turbo lag was cooler than moaning to your mates that the Bond girl you were dating drank too much champagne and disturbed the people in the flat below when she practised her pole dancing.
And looking at it now, there remains a distant echo of that thrill. It's certainly not the way it looks. The flared arches, oddly square against the profile of the little alloys suggest a terrier-like agility and determination, but contribute little towards the great avalanche of excitement the car can generate in some.
But it is more than just association with that magical mantra. Whisper it now, ‘turbo'. This was a hot hatch, yes, but it was so much more than a first step on the performance car ladder, it was - and still is - a properly quick car. The original rocket-powered skateboard, it was expensive but light and therefore fast, hitting 60mph in 7.3 seconds. And it was, thanks to that word, ‘turbo', fantastically exotic.