New Renault 5 electric hatchback: specs, range, price and prototype review
The reborn Renault 5 will arrive in 2024 and could start from under £20,000; we’ve driven a prototype
In 2021, Renault stunned the world with a small, five-door electric hatchback concept car inspired by the iconic first-generation Renault 5 from the 70s and 80s. A production version was given the green light shortly after, and is on track to arrive in 2024.
When it goes on sale, the latest retro-inspired hatchback will go head-to-head against the Fiat 500e, Honda e, next-generation MINI Electric and the forthcoming production versions of the Cupra UrbanRebel and Volkswagen ID.2.
The new Renault 5 will be available with either a 40kWh or 52kWh battery, with the larger unit expected to offer a 249-mile driving range. For reference, new MINI Electric due this year is expected to post similar numbers, while the current Fiat 500e offers 199 miles of range from a slightly smaller battery.
Like the recently introduced Renault Megane E-Tech, the Renault 5 will offer rapid charging at speeds of up to 130kW. Find a fast enough public charging point and that should allow you to add 124 miles of range in around 30 minutes.
A 134bhp electric motor will be used to drive the 5’s front wheels. We’ll begin to see this particular component used more across Reanult’s forthcoming electric line-up; using standardised parts means a cut in manufacturing costs.
Finalised prices for the new Renault 5 haven’t been confirmed, but speaking to DrivingElectric at the 2021 IAA Mobility motor show in Munich, Renault’s executive vice president for engineering, Gilles Le Borgne, said: “This will be a real affordable car. We need to be in the range between €20,000-€25,000 (around £17,500-£21,500 at the time), but still be profitable. That's the challenge.”
Following the steady rise of electric car prices since then, we expect the Renault 5 to start closer to £20,000 – even a little more, perhaps – but that would still make it one of the cheapest electric cars on the market.
Renault CEO Luca de Meo also told DrivingElectric in 2021: "The mission of that car is to democratise electric technology in Europe, and you do that when you're able to do a competitive electric car in the range of €20,000 to €30,000 (£17,500 to £26,000)".
According to de Meo: "It has to be a car that's in that range of price; we want to make it simple, accessible and essential. It needs to be an affordable product."
Renault has previously said the 5 will cost 33% less to produce than the current ZOE. One component that will play a role in that, and Renault producing other affordable electric cars, will be the new CMF-BEV platform from Renault’s alliance with Nissan, which has been designed specifically for use in small electric cars and will make its debut under the 5.
The new platform will underpin the upcoming Renault 4 compact electric SUV previewed last year, that in time will rival the Jeep Avenger, Hyundai Kona Electric and Smart #1, among others. Nissan’s electric successor to the Micra supermini will also use the CMF-BEV platform.
Electric Renault 5 design
The new Renault 5 is one of seven new pure-electric Renaults landing over the next few years. In January 2021, the company released images of a 'Renault 5 Prototype', giving us our first taste of what the production version of the car could look like, with appearances at the Munich Motor Show that year, as well as the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed allowing us to admire it in the metal.
It mirrors the silhouette of the original 5, which was produced in two generations between 1972 and 1996, but with details like the lights and bootlid shape having been modernised. In terms of proportions, the new 5 will reportedly be just 3.9 metres long, which is shorter than a VW Polo, but around the same length as the Honda e, so driving in the city should be a sinch.
The concept was designed by Gilles Vidal, who previously worked at Peugeot, where he penned a similarly retro-inspired electric concept, the E-Legend coupe. Speaking during a presentation of the 5 Prototype, Vidal said: "The design of the Renault 5 Prototype is based on a cult model of our heritage. This prototype simply embodies modernity, a vehicle relevant to its time: urban, electric, attractive."
On the prototype, the foglights of the original model have been turned into daytime running lights, while the bonnet ventilation scoop now houses the charging port. Unlike the original, which was offered in both three and five-door configurations, the new-generation Renault 5 will be a five-door model only.
The small car will be built in Renault's revamped 'ElectriCity' factory complex, spread across three facilities in northern France, with batteries coming from a new 'gigafactory' to be constructed nearby. The new Renault 4 will eventually be produced in this facility as well.
Renault 5 prototype drive
As we mentioned, the road-going version of the Renault 5 concept won’t be with us until 2024, but we were given the unique opportunity to drive an early prototype clad in Clio body panels to get our first taste of the reborn classic hatchback.
Despite the prototype’s fascia and body coming from a Clio, there are visual giveaways there’s something special underneath. There’s the charging port on its nose (similar to a ZOE’s), the bolt-on wheel arches needed to accommodate a wider track, and the rear wheels sitting noticeably further forward in the arches because of the CMF-BEV platform’s shorter wheelbase. According to Renault, this platform is stronger than the Clio’s, and features four battery packs crammed full of cells.
But it's the wide track that alludes to the Renault 5’s key characteristic – that it’s designed to be fun. While the ZOE is a regular electric city car, the 5 is a much sharper machine. Its steering is direct, reacting quickly to direction changes. The goal is to offer an agile and exciting driving experience around town, plus stability at higher speeds. It seems to have worked.
Quick lane changes felt smooth and the car responded well to fast steering inputs. The suspension kept it level, too. Going into a slalom at roughly 40mph, the momentum of repeated changes in direction did unsettle the car somewhat, but the various electronic safety systems on-board stopped it from getting too out of hand, even though it let the car move around a little. All of this bodes well for sportier sister brand Alpine’s hot version of the Renault 5, but it seems even the basic Renault version will be able to put a smile on your face.
The prototype we drove was understandably a little rough around the edges though. The Renault 5’s traction control is still being worked on and as a result struggled with some of the slippery surfaces we encountered. At full throttle the wheels spun and found grip multiple times before settling and pulling the car forward. We could still feel the generous amount of torque on offer, though figures for this haven’t yet been revealed.
What was especially impressive was the braking system. The 5’s new brake-by-wire set-up was developed with Continental and despite not being connected to the brakes themselves, offers strong pedal feel. Notably, it also stops in less distance than a Renault ZOE from the same speed. We applied full pressure at just over 50mph on a half-snow/half-ice surface and not only did the car slow quite quickly, it did so with minimal fuss.
The Renault 5 was already one of the most hotly-anticipated EVs of the decade, but our brief stint behind the wheel of this prototype has us even more excited for the car’s launch in 2024. There’s still plenty of work to be done, though the Renault 5’s focus on being fun, entertaining and agile for drivers of all types and abilities shone through nonetheless and suggests this will be a fantastic electric city car when it finally lands.
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