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Is any hatch hotter than the mid-engined Renault R5 Turbo2?

The idea of a hot hatch is a no-brainer today—take a lightweight economy car, upgrade the suspension, bump up the power, and call it a day. Back in the 1980s, however, the formula was still being perfected, resulting in some pretty insane creations. Jay Leno explores what could be the craziest example in Renault’s bonkers, mid-engined R5 Turbo2 hatchback on the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/04/23/mid-engined-renault-r5-turbo2-hot-hatch

It’s cool looking. Performance is good compared to its 80’s peers. But IMO you’re as likely to see good build quality in an 80’s Renault as you are to see money from a winning Nigerian lottery ticket.

Its successor-in-spirit, the Renault Clio V6, is a good choice as well. As is the Fiat 595 Biposto, and although not a factory car, its hard to out-crazy the Fiesta SHOgun conversions.

As an owner of a R5T2 I can say it is most certainly NOT the hottest hot hatch ever made simply because there are some bizarre one-off’s such as home built, twin gas engine hot hatch creations as well as hatches like BMW’s 4 motor, 4WD Electric Mini’s sitting on the planet somewhere. But the R5T2 does something better then almost any car ever made. It gives good backside. It makes Lambo’s look like a minivan. You bring one of these to a cars and coffee and watch the other cars get ignored. I don’t care what you bring out of the garage, a R5T in the wild is like bringing a gun to a knife fight. They are both shocking in their dimensions as well as oddly appealing to all genders and age groups. As approachable in vibe as cute 60’s micro cars and yet pumped up on steroids like some puppy that got into it’s owners private stash. These cars do not turn off the general public the way many doorstop shaped exotic cars do. And only the most hard core of “car people” know what they are so when someone approaches you announcing “I know what this is!” you KNOW they are true enthusiasts. R5T’s are the filter that separates the hardcore from the pretender. I cannot think of another car at even 3 times the price, new or old, that can elicit such a response when in the public. It takes me 30 minutes the fuel up at the gas station just because of all the questions that inevitably arise… I have to plan ahead accordingly. Surprisingly parts, ALL PARTS, are readily available. Granted you need to figure out a bit of French… but it’s worth it when you turn the key. The “Little Box of French Hate” got it’s nickname for a reason.

In my humble opinion, the Peugeot 205 T16 is the hottest of hatches (at least my favorite).

I’m biased. I have the R5 Turbo 2 and the Clio V6 phase 1. Love both of these cars. And yes I am lucky because I am in Canada. It is also true that you do get held up at gas stations a lot and also at car meets. Both cars seem to draw a lot of attention. Maybe one day I will sell both Renaults as a packaged deal. Two of the most fun driving cars I have ever had.

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