The stunning R5 showcases Alpine and Renault’s electric future

Renault R5 prototype
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Renault R5 prototype in a studio
Renault R5 prototype side in a studio
Renault R5 rear prototype in a studio
Renault R5 prototype
Renault R5 prototype
Renault R5 prototype
Renault R5 prototype
Renault R5 prototype
Renault R5 prototype
Renault R5 prototype
Renault R5 prototype
Renault R5 prototype

Big changes are happening at Renault right now and to be honest, they needed to happen after the disaster that was Carlos Ghosn. 

French automakers seemingly love a revolution—one minute it’s diesel as the saviour of the world, the next it’s electric. Renault seem to have responded, almost reactionary to the idea of an electric future, but their drive to do so won’t be baseless and surely stacks up as a business model given the relentless push for electric in almost every automotive corner. From a sports car position, they don’t have the same investment in sound and combustion engine technology as most of the sports car makers do, the emotion of owning a Renault coming from its fun factor in handling and braking, just like in every generation of the Megane RS.

Renault have moved away from manual gearboxes as well, the Alpine A110 a prime example but preceding that was the 2012 Clio IV RS (200) EDC. Are they taking into consideration the lukewarm reception the last Clio RS received when it was announced it would be auto only? That it’s a given an electric car won’t have a gearbox, probably not but they question of engagement remains.

Alpine will become an electric only sports car company with the A110 being the last internal combustion engined sports car it will produce. The engine itself wasn’t exactly an emotive powerhouse to begin with, so by going electric, little will be lost in that regard, however there’s still a song the engine plays when revs rise and fall and gear changes are made, if a little uninspiring.

It will be interesting how Alpine plan to draw emotion out of the product if it’s going to be pure electric and how they will differentiate from other brands. It doesn’t have a great deal of heritage to draw from despite rally successes in the original, and some interesting attempts at building on that success with other models. There was a large gap in the story, and people won’t be buying into it the same way people buy into a Porsche 911, Chevrolet Corvette, or Ford Mustang. Even the humble Mazda MX-5 has transcended its nameplate to be more than a sum of its parts. 

That’s something current Renault boss Luca De Meo understands and why he’s reached into the past to drag out a nameplate to hopefully inspire memories of glories past. The Renault 5 was a huge success in production and racing and this latest concept is derivative of the original in the best possible way. Styling cues are everywhere and where many restomod and reimagine builders descend into pastiche, Renault designers have breathed new life. Short overhangs, chunky and angular without being a low-poly cartoonish version of itself is the work of Gilles Vidal, Reanult’s new design director. 

What Renault undoubtedly do so well is produce hot hatches that you want to drive. Let’s hope Renault find a formula that works with electric. It’s been reported that there will be an Alpine version of the Renault R5 as well. Does this just simply mean bigger batteries and more power? Usually with bigger batteries comes more weight, so quite how Alpine aim to maintain any kind of agility, especially considering that is its calling card, remains to be seen. 

We don’t know what the interior looks like on this concept and if they use it as a model of the future, hopefully it won’t be a smorgasbord of digital touch screens. We’re already rejecting the complete failure of demanding drivers try to hit small touchscreen targets with their fingers while navigating down a badly kept road. 

This is still a concept but shows that Renault haven’t lost any of their flair in terms of design with a keen understanding of how to pull at enthusiast heartstrings. Interesting times for Renault and Alpine over the next few years, let’s see how it pans out but until then, at least we can feast our eyes on what might be.

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