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Big Digital Fox

It feels like an age since Renault unveiled its electric 5 concept car back in 2021, but the French company has finally taken the wraps off a production model. However, you won’t see it hit European roads until early next year.

Unveiled at a much smaller and more intimate Geneva Motor Show than we are used to, Renault wheeled out a production-ready EV that has stayed true to the original 2021 concept (95% faithful, according to the brand), itself borrowing styling elements from the plucky hatchback that sold some 5.5 million units between 1972 and 1985, but fusing it with the latest in electrical architecture and underpinnings.

The Renault 5 E-Tech rides on a new AmpR Small chassis that has been designed by the group to underpin a swathe of new, compact electric vehicles. The car will come with two battery options – either a 40kWh or a  52kWh unit – with the powertrain producing either 90kW/120hp or 110kW/150hp available.

Renault 5 E-Tech Electric

(Image credit: Renault)

The electric motors are borrowed from the current Megane E-Tech, but have been reduced in weight by 15kg thanks to some engineering breakthroughs. Renault says it shuns permanent magnets in its motors in favour of copper coils, which means less reliance on rare earth materials.

Performance is punchy enough, if a little underwhelming by today’s EV standards. Renault says 0-62mph is possible in eight seconds in the most powerful models. But, it is quick to mention that it has been imbued with ‘agile’ handling and fun driving characteristics.

Charging speeds range from 11kW AC to 100kW DC fast charging in the larger 52kWh battery, while the 40kWh battery features an 80kW DC socket, which sees both battery packs take around 30 minutes to achieve a 15% to 80% top-up for their respective fastest outlets.

Renault 5 E-Tech Electric

(Image credit: Renault)

Renault says its aim is to keep the weight below 1,500kg to improve battery-supping efficiency, although this is really billed as an electric city car – not a hyper-mileage EV tourer. The longest targeted range is 248 miles in the 52kWh version, and 186 miles in the smaller battery option.

It’s not exactly going to rival the Kias, Teslas and Porsches of this world, but pricing will be pitched at a much more affordable level as a result.

A nose for nostalgia

Renault 5 E-Tech Electric

(Image credit: Renault)

In terms of size, the 3.92-meter overall length means it is shorter than Renault’s newest Clio. But with the wheels pushed to each corner, the short overhangs and clever use of interior space, it’s billed as an everyday EV that will seat five people and offer 326 litres of luggage space in the rear.

In keeping with the squat, aggressive look of former coveted Turbo models, all 5 E-Techs will ride on 18-inch rims, while the car will be launched in some seriously eye-catching colours, including Yellow Pop and Green Pop. That said, more subdued navy blue and white hues have also been shown.

But perhaps the biggest draw is in some of the Gallic quirks and cheeky features that have either been ported over from concept stage or introduced into the production car. The eye-shaped LED headlights wink as the driver approaches with the key and the digital display on the bonnet acts as a charge indicator, as well as displaying the instantly recognisable 5 logo.

Renault 5 E-Tech Electric

(Image credit: Renault)

Inside, the seats have taken plenty of inspiration from the old R5 Turbo in their overall shape, yet they are covered in a funky denim upholstery that’s made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.

In range-topping Iconic Five trim, the passenger receives a padded area in front of them and the general dash and interior ambience feels luxurious and premium…. not phrases typically banded around when talking about Renault 5 of yesteryear.

Customers can go one step further and customize the interior further thanks to 3D printing technology, with the ability to personalize storage areas and even tweak the tip of the gear shifter stalk – dubbed the ‘e-pop shifter’ – with a number of preset designs. This little oblong shifter cover can be jazzed up with the tricolore or funky 5 logos, for example.

Tech it onboard

Renault 5 E-Tech Electric

(Image credit: Renault)

Renault’s retro-tastic EV will use the same OpenR Link multimedia system as found in the electric Megane. It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip for speed and uses Google‘s Android Auto software to do much of the app-based action.

Having used it recently in Renault’s hybrid Austral E model, we can confirm that it’s slick, fast and intuitive to use. However, the diminutive 5 E-Tech doesn’t get the same vertical tablet as the French marque’s large SUV. Instead, it features a 10-inch digital instrument cluster and a horizontal touchscreen infotainment system of the same size.

However, this will be the first vehicle to offer Reno – the French automaker’s first stab at an AI voice assistant. Apparently, the “feeling of empathy created will strengthen the emotional bond between the user and their Renault 5 E-Tech electric,” according to the marque.

Renault 5 E-Tech Electric

(Image credit: Renault)

We’re not sure about that, but Renault says Reno (confused yet?) can handle lots of vehicle functionality and even answer questions. The examples given are:  “Hey Reno, schedule a charge for 8am tomorrow” or “Hey Reno, how can I increase the range of my car?”

What’s more, Renault says that ChatGPT integration will also allow drivers to pose wider questions and receive answers from one of the world’s most popular AI systems. Plus, Reno can even dive into the vehicle handbook and give you tips on changing a tyre.

There has been no official word on price, but Renault 5 E-Tech is expected to start at around £30,000 ($38,000/AUS$58,000) when it goes on sale in Europe.

On that subject, you’ll have to wait until the beginning of next year before Renault’s hot new EV hits showrooms. It seems the French marque likes to keep its fans waiting.

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