Classified of the week: the Renault 5 Alpine Turbo | Top Gear
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Wednesday 29th March
Hot Hatch

TG’s classified of the week: the Renault 5 Alpine Turbo

Want a little, fighty taste of Alpine magic? This one's yours for £16,000

Renault 5 Alpine Turbo front quarter
  • Aww, it’s like ‘My First Rally Car’.

    Don’t be fooled by its diminutive proportions – we’ve got a small lad in the office and he might be the hardest charger among us. 

    Also, at the risk of rehashing the old David v Goliath, giant-killer tropes again, remember that racing is never about who has the biggest car, even considering the big engines that tend to be tucked under the bonnet. The Mini won the Monte Carlo rally four times on the trot, even if it was disqualified for the wrong type of headlight filament (we wish we were kidding). 

    It’s much the same with the Renault 5, which started off as a way to move the masses physically and ended up – thanks to the plentiful fun and essential character of the high-performance versions – moving us emotionally. 

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  • What’s the history of the Renault 5 Alpine, then?

    Well, it was actually one of the earliest hot hatches, only beaten to the punch by the Euro-market Simca 1100TI.

    Yep, that means it came before the mighty Volkswagen Golf GTI. Okay, it was only by a matter of months, but these things count – the Golf GTI was pipped at the post by the Renault 5 Alpine.

  • Alpine, eh? Wasn’t this the Renault 5 Gordini?

    Yes, you might be wondering why this one’s called an Alpine. Well, it’s also called a Gordini – it just depends on where it was first offered for sale. 

    It’s all down to Chrysler owning the rights to the Alpine name in the UK – so Renault chose another sporting name close to the heart of the brand: Gordini, famed tuner, car builder and racer. 

    This one’s especially cool, as it’s a later Renault 5 Alpine Turbo, with (as you might have guessed) a turbocharger. Thanks to forced induction, the little 1.4 is good for 110bhp – not shabby by any means. 

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  • So, what’s changed since it rolled off the production line?

    Since 1983? Many, many things. The rise of the internet and mobile phones, apps to connect with friends, co-workers and complete strangers, swiping right… Amazing stuff. 

    While all that was going on around it, this plucky little road terrier received a series of updates to ensure it could withstand the rigours of competition rallying – where Renault and Alpine left an indelible mark. 

    As such, there’s a full racing roll cage and fire suppression system, as well as comp-spec seats, harnesses and controls. The brakes are uprated with vented discs and race-ready pads, and the whole lot is tied down with a Bilstein suspension system. There are also many stickers and a brace of Cibies. 

    As a side note, if you believe a rally car should ever go without driving lights and stickers, please email us with the subject line: ‘Even Thom Yorke would think I’m a miserable git’. 

    Anywhos, you’ll be glad to know that, by sticking with simpler, more sympathetic improvements, these mods haven’t rendered it a track-only car – it’s entirely road-legal. So, if you’re of a particularly masochistic bent, you’re well within your rights to use it as a daily driver. And there’s a certain perverse joy in that thought.

  • But what if I want an actual daily driver?

    Well, you’re in luck there – the Hertfordshire-based seller is a bit of a fan of fast Renault 5s, and has another, road-prepped version for sale, also for £16,000. 

    Tempted? It’s over on Car and Classic right now

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