New Renault 5 E-Tech all-electric keeps the concept-car retro looks

New Renault 5 E-Tech All-Electric Keeps The Concept-Car Retro Looks
The new Renault R5 E-Tech electric car on display at the Geneva motor show. Photo: Fabrice Collini/AFP via Getty Images
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Neil Briscoe

While many carmakers have tried, over the years, to claim that their new model looks as striking as a motor show concept car, in the case of the new Renault 5 E-Tech, that is pretty much literally true.

Originally shown as a concept car in 2021 — and lauded at the time for its deft mixture of retro and modern design cues — the production version of the 5 E-Tech has just been unveiled ahead of its public debut at the Geneva motor show and looks … the same.


In fact, all that seems to have changed is that the front doors have grown more conventional handles, while the details of the LED headlights and distinctive square-shaped foglights set into the front bumper are slightly different. Oh, and there’s no backlit ‘Renault’ spelled out in large letters on the front and rear bumpers, but perhaps that’s being saved for the options list…

Clearly, the overall style and silhouette have been hugely influenced by the original Renault 5 of 1972 — a car that was staggeringly successful for the French brand, and which effectively invented the modern supermini segment, five years before the likes of the original Ford Fiesta went on sale. The detailing is very modern, though, and there has been come clever re-invention of some of those original 1972 touches.

For instance, the original 5 had a distinctive asymmetric vent on the bonnet; the modern 5 E-Tech uses that position and shape for an external battery readout, which lights up as the driver walks up to the car, alerting you to how much charge the car has on board before you sit in.


The LED bulbs in the headlights have also been designed to ‘wink’ at the driver as they light up, which is kind of another nod to the original 5, which had particularly expressive, almost anthropomorphic lights (alas, the new 5 E-Tech can’t be fitted with properly Gallic yellow headlights…).

“We used pieces of collective memory that we translated in a very contemporary way to create the R5 of tomorrow. We didn't want the Renault 5 E-Tech Electric to feel nostalgic or vintage. We wanted to triggering emotion and created a vibrant, energetic, and ‘pop’ car” said Gilles Vidal, Renault’s head of design.

The 5 E-Tech is quite compact by modern standards. At 3.9-metres long, it’s a touch shorter than most other B-segment hatchbacks, but it can still fit dramatic-looking 18-inch wheels under the arches. The wheelbase is 2.4-metres, so interior space should be better than decent (and the 326-litre boot certainly is).

That interior combines modern and retro design cues, just like the exterior. The neat two-spoke wheel sits ahead of a seven-inch digital instrument panel for basic models (both of which feature a ‘vehicle speed display in colourful alphanumeric characters instead of the traditional black or white’), and a 10.1-inch version for more high-end 5 E-Techs.


In the centre, there’s a ten-inch touchscreen infotainment system, standard on all models, which uses Renault’s highly-praised Google-based software as previously seen in the Megane, Asutral, and the new all-electric Scenic.

You’ll be able to download such apps as Deezer, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Waze for integration directly into the screen (and there will of course be Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity). There is also a digital voice assistant called ‘Reno’ which can, in theory anyway, respond to normal, conversational language and which has been designed with software from ChatGPT.

That’s the modern stuff — the passenger side of the dashboard meanwhile gets a distinctive ribbed padding effect which couldn’t look more seventies if it came with some flares and a copy of the Shaft soundtrack on eight-track cassette.


The seats have been inspired in their style by those of the original Renault 5 Turbo (a rally homologation special with a mid-engined layout and an appetite for winning the Monte Carlo rally) which feature a denim-like material made from 100 per cent recycled plastic (PET) water bottles.

Among the options and accessories list is — possibly the most gloriously French thing ever — a dedicated woven wicker basket, prototypes of which were made by French basket-maker Marguerite Herlant, which is designed to hold a fresh baguette without getting crumbs on the floor or upholstery. C’est bon.

Underneath, the 5 E-Tech uses a new electric car platform, called AmpR Small, and which has been developed by Renault’s new in-house EV-specialist subsidiary, Ampere.


Ampere was supposed to have been spun-off as a quasi-separate company, with a stock market listing of its own, but recent falls in the stock values of EV-specialist companies — notably Tesla and Polestar — have stalled that idea.

Essentially, the AmpR Small is a revised version of what Renault used to call the CMF-B EV platform.

That has been designed as an electric-dedicated platform but one that shares many components with the conventional CMF-B platform which is already in use under the likes of the Clio and Captur. Renault claims that the parts-sharing makes the platform considerably more affordable to build — around 30 per cent less per vehicle than that of the old Zoe platform — but that parts have been shared only where they won’t impact directly on electric performance and efficiency.

Initially, the 5 E-Tech will launch with a 52kWh battery, which gives the car a range of up to 400km on a single charge.

Later, there’ll be a 40kWh version with a range of up to 300km, and Renault says that both batteries use se NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) technology: “for the best energy density on the market today.” The battery packs are said to be around 20kg lighter than those used in the old Zoe, thanks to simpler construction. The batteries are liquid-cooled, and charging time can be optimised by pre-conditioning the battery and planning the journey using the car’s built-in Google Maps app.

As standard, the batteries can be charged at 11kW on AC power, and up to 100kW on DC power (the limit is set at 80kW for the smaller battery variant).

For the moment, it does not seem as if Renault will offer its (very useful) 22kW AC charging system as an option, but the battery does come as standard with bi-directional charging, allowing it to output 11kW of juice to other electrical devices, including through an on-board 220-volt domestic socket.

Renault’s charging division, Mobilize, has developed a smart ‘PowerBox Verso’ home charger which can “communicate with Renault 5 and the cloud to charge the battery or feed electricity back to the grid, depending on battery charge requirements, domestic requirements and incentives from the energy market and public grid.”

The larger battery model gets a 110kW electric motor, with 150hp, driving the front wheels giving the 5 E-Tech a 0-100km/h time of less than eight seconds. The top speed is limited to 150km/h. That motor will only be available with the 52kWh battery — the 40kWh version will come with a choice of a 70kW (90hp) or 90kW (120hp) motors.

What of the price, though? It should be, at the very least, competitive. Renault has said that the 5 E-Tech will have a starting price in France of €25,000. That would suggest, assuming that’s the incentives-included price, that an Irish price should hover at around the €27,000-€28,000 figure. Which would certainly be competitive, especially when for the moment, little else gets close on the style front.

Speaking at the 5’s official reveal, Renault chairman Luca De Meo said: “Some products are magical. You don't need endless discussions; everybody always agrees on what needs to be done. And they just do it. There’s no inertia. When a company revives a car that left such great memories, they pour a huge amount of love into it. This is something that is always promising for the future, since it is recognised by customers. They can see the love that went into the car.”

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