Renault 5 E-Tech Electric sells like hot cakes: 50,000 sign up for retro Five

Published: 06 March 2024 Updated: 06 March 2024

► New Renault 5 E-Tech Electric officially revealed
► Up to 249 miles of e-range, retro looks, cool interior
► Deliveries start in UK early 2025, likely priced from £25k

It seems that the new Renault 5 E-Tech Electric has made quite the impression after its debut last week: 50,000 Europeans have placed an order already, according to senior executives, making it the most eagerly awaited launch from the French brand for years.

The Renault 5 EV made its debut at the 2024 Geneva motor show (one of the very few new models being revealed at this year’s show), with sales imminently opening up for many markets across Europe – as well as the UK.

After spending some time with the car ahead of its reveal, talking to designers and engineers, CAR magazine has the full debrief on the official production model of the new Renault 5 EV right here. Let’s get started, shall we?

Are you sure this isn’t still the concept?

We’re certain. The story goes that, when current Groupe Renault CEO Luca De Meo entered his post, Renault’s design teams brought him into a conference room to show all the ongoing models and projects they were working on. According to Paula Fabregat, Design Project Director for A and B-segment cars, ‘it took him five seconds’ to scan the room full of sketches and mock-ups to then point at the 5 concept (one of the least concrete projects at the time) and say ‘build it,’ challenging the design team to craft it as close to the mock-up as possible. A tall order, to put it mildly.

Now, though, Renault happily brags that the real thing is 95 per cent like that concept from 2021. The dinky headlights and squat proportions, the angled rear much like the original trimmed with an aerodynamic spoiler ‘like the one from a Turbo’, according to Fabregat, all point to that legendary original. Even the vent on the bonnet of the original has been echoed with this new generation, with a number ‘5’ split into backlit sections that show off your battery percentage. Many tasty links to Renault’s past with the 5– and yet, ‘you won’t find a single vintage element!’ claims Fabregat. Hmm.

‘The older generations will relate and have a connection to the 5,’ says Gilles Vidal, Renault’s design director, ‘but my kids are fairly young, for example, and they don’t know these old cars. We designed this car so it would be interesting and attractive for what it is, without needing to relate to its history.’

All these supposedly retro details aren’t there just for show; that spoiler and those Y-spoke alloy wheels add five miles of possible range each, while the wraparound fins in the rear lights add another four. And Renault is more than happy to amp up the car’s cutesy appeal: the DRL’s will ‘wink’ at you as you unlock it, for example.

Renault’s new EV has a broadly similar footprint and overall shape to the Clio and is designed to replace the Zoe. It’s 3.92m long, 1.77m wide, 1.5m tall (making it a smidge shorter and slimmer, if taller) and features a wheelbase 2.54m long. The boot volume is rated to 326-litres with the seats up.

The 5 launches with five colours: Pop Yellow, Pop Green, Midnight Blue, Pearl White and Starry Black. At launch, the 5 will arrive with three trim levels: entry-level Evolution, mid-spec Techno and top-end Iconic Cinq (which is a bit of a reference to the later Supercinq models from the original 5’s lifetime). Base-spec Evolution features wheel trims inspired by the wheels from the R5 Turbo, while the upper variants get 18-inch alloys as standard. You’ll be able to spec sticker packs to further personalise the exterior, too.

Tell me about the Renault 5’s interior…

It’s a mix of kitsch and contemporary inside. Some of the dashboard design elements as well as the shapes of the seats are inspired by various versions of the original R5, including the padded and stitched passenger-side dashboard moulding. Every 5 features digital instruments and a large infotainment system running a Google OS model as standard.

On top of having Google technology in-built, the 5 will also feature a virtual assistant named RENO. The VA is powered by ChatGPT (which is very on-trend) and is designed to help coach EV newbies and get the most out of the car. Renautl says you can ask it questions like how to pair your phone to the car, or how to change a tyre. Stuck in traffic? RENO will suggest going into Eco mode to save power. Got the windows open and the air-con on? RENO will ask if you want to switch off the air-con. Sounds a bit naggy? It does to us, but Renault assures us RENO’s prompts won’t be too intrusive.

Naturally there are some common Renault Group parts to be found, including the physical (hurrah!) climate control dials and electronic parking brake lever seen in cheaper Renault models like the Clio and Captur. But regardless of what trim you go for, you’ll sit on upholstery made from recycled materials and prod 3D-printed parts. Upholstery colours will almost entirely depend on trim, mind you, but Renault will also offer you the change to customise the drive shift stalk with a range of different clip-on attachments that sort of look like lipsticks. Renault will also offer other accessories, including a baguette holder that clips onto the centre console. Generally, it’s a pretty wild mix of the 2020s and 1970s inside.

Gimme some Renault 5 tech and performance specs!

The new 5 is the first car to use the Renault Group’s AmpR Small platform, which, up until 2023, was nicknamed CMF-BEV. The architecture will be used by Renault, as well as Dacia, Alpine for its hot A290, Nissan for its new-generation Micra and Mitsubishi.

AmpR Small is engineered to be as efficient and light as it can be, using existing parts from the combustion-powered Clio and Captur to save cost and new techniques to keep the weight down. Some weight has been saved with the e-motor as well as the platform; the one used in the 5 is a reworked (and less powerful) version seen in the Megane E-Tech, which saves 20 kilos. All of this means that the 5’s maximum weight clocks in at 1450kg – a figure that Vincent Theuillon, EV Platform Manager, tells us ‘is about the same as the heaviest version of the Captur.’

Two battery packs – a 40kWh one promising 186 miles of range, and a 52kWh one claiming a more reasonable 249 miles – and three power variants (94, 118 and 148bhp) will be available. The lower two power options are linked to the smaller battery, while the 148bhp e-motor is only available with the 52kWh battery. CAR understands the UK market will benefit from the 118bhp model with the 40kWh battery and the 148bhp version with the larger 52kWh battery, as both have a heat pump as standard.

Performance-wise, Renault has released limited figures so far, saying that the most powerful model will launch from 0-62mph in under 8 seconds and runs out of puff at 93mph.

As for charging, Renault says the new 5 will charge at up to either 80kW for the base-level e-motor or 100kW with the two more powerful e-motors. Regardless of which you pick, Renault claims a 30-minute charge from 15-80 per cent.

And as well as aiming to lower costs at the point of purchase, bi-directional charging allows you to feed energy from your 5 into the grid to lower your electricity bills (so long as you get a wallbox and tariff from Renault’s Mobilize division) and it’ll even power domestic items via an adapter (on the 118 and 148bhp models) – just like Hyundai and Kia’s V2L technology.

How much is a new Renault 5, and when can I buy one?

Prices aren’t confirmed yet, but Renault is targeting a circa £25,000 price tag when it launches in the UK. Deliveries are expected to start later on in 2024 for Continental Europe, with the first cars landing in the UK in the first few weeks of 2025.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches