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Renault 5 GT Turbo: Buying guide and review (1985-1991)

Renault 5 GT Turbo: Buying guide and review (1985-1991) Classic and Performance Car
Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991) Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991) Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991) Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991) Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991) Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991)
Looking for one of the most memorable and exciting hot hatches of the 1980s? No, not the Peugeot 205 GTI, but another lightweight French hot hatch that that's increasingly rare and surging in value: The Renault 5 GT Turbo. 
Although turbocharging was still largely in its infancy during the 1980s, Renault was no stranger to offering its hatchbacks with a blower. When it launched the original Gordini in 1976 (pre-dating the Golf GTI by a year) the company joined the hot hatch ranks in style, but it wasn't until 1981 – following the mid-engined Group 4 rally 5 Turbo in 1980 – that the Garrett T3 finally found its way into the engine bay. 
The Gordini Turbo was indecently fast, but it wasn't until a the year after the Five received its Gandini-styled 'Supercinq' update in 1984 that the hugely improved GT Turbo was introduced. The engine remained pretty much unchanged, but a smaller T02 turbo was fitted for better response and less lag, and a slight increase in boost pressure increased power to 115bhp (later 118bhp). 
It’s all too easy to forget what all the fuss was about when it was new. While the Peugoet 205 GTi, Golf GTi and Escort XR3i were normally aspirated, it was left to the Renault 5 GT Turbo, and a handful of others like the Escort RS Turbo and Fiat Uno Turbo to carry the turbocharging flag, in what was a fiercely fought segment by the time it arrived in 1985. 
While critics moaned about the noticeable turbo lag, some found that it added to the entertainment. Most importantly it was a seriously quick machine – especially when the wick was turned up. It helped that the GT Turbo was so light; its featherweight bodyshell helped it to tip the scales at just 830kg, aiding agility and ensuring that every drive was a blast. Even now the GT Turbo is a quick car and you’ll still have plenty of fun in one – if you can find a really good example. 
The steering is unassisted, but it’s manageable at low speed and perfectly weighted once you’re up and running. It’s also perfectly matched to the needs of the chassis, so you can hustle the Renault through corners without the edginess of the alert 205. It has decent grip, but traction can be at a premium when the turbo eventually starts puffing. The brakes and gearshift mirror the weight and feel of the steering, so although the Five is light there’s some meat to the primary controls that’s unusually satisfying. It’s a small car too, so you have generous amounts of road to play with.

Which Renault 5 to buy?

If you go for a Phase 2 rather than a Phase 1 you’re likely to enjoy a greater degree of reliability, but the hot starting problems of earlier cars can largely be alleviated by fitting one of other of the various kits available. Your chances of finding an early grey-bumpered Phase 1 car are significantly slimmer than the more common Phase 2 anyway.
One other version to consider is the 5 GT Turbo Raider. This was a special edition run-out model, painted in blue with matching blue alloy wheels. Check that the car’s unique seat trim is in good shape, as you’ll have a difficult time trying to replace any of it!
The reality of finding a 5 GT Turbo worth putting money into isn’t always particularly straightforward though. The general rule is that if you come across the right car in good condition, then you shouldn’t hang around making an offer. The chances are you’ll look at quite a few heaps before you find something worth buying, and good cars do not stay on the open market for very long. 
Many of the GT Turbos out there have been crashed at some point and a lot of them have been badly repaired. Your mission is to find one that’s not been crashed, hasn’t been butchered either and is as close to factory spec as you can get. GT Turbo buyers now want originality, so if you can find an unmolested GT Turbo of any vintage, that should be the one you snap up. 
While the GTT was an icon in the Max Power scene, even appearing in the Ali G movie, quite a few fully modified cars have now been put back to standard. While this is ultimately good, you potentially want to know what kind of modification the car had, and also how well any restoration work has been carried out. If you’re not put off by modifications, then there is always going to be a lot more choice, and you’ll potentially end up with something that has been well put together and can still give modern hot hatches a run for their money. 

Performance and specs 

Renault 5 GT Turbo (phase 2)
Engine 1397cc, four-cylinder
Power 118bhp @ 5750rpm
Torque 122lb ft @ 3750rpm
Top speed 123mph
0-60mph 7.1sec
Fuel consumption 25mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Insurance group 14

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2408mm
Length 3589mm
Width 1595mm
Height 1367mm
Kerb weight 855kg

Common problems

• Corrosion isn’t normally too much of an issue on a GT Turbo that hasn’t been crashed. The rustproofing was OK so rust isn’t guaranteed, but it’s likely that the sills will need some TLC if they haven’t had some already. 
• Check the rear wheelarches, tailgate edges and below the rear windscreen, doors, and the particularly nasty area below the front windscreen. Expect some bubbling here and there, even on a good car, but more serious corrosion should be avoided unless you want a project. 
• The Phase 1 cars got a grey bodykit while it was colour-coded for Phase 2 cars. Many earlier cars have had their bodykits painted to match the rest of the car, so these grey panels are now very hard to find. 
• The 1.4-litre engine has a reputation for fragility, but that’s largely because in period many owners tuned them too highly or didn’t improve the fuelling to go with the increased boost pressures. Lean running, detonation then a failed gasket were the result, but 180bhp is easy to coax reliably from this power plant. 
• There’s no fuel injection here; instead there’s a Solex carb, so make sure the engine idles happily and that there isn’t loads of exhaust smoke as the car is accelerated through the gears. 
• Ensure that as the engine is idling, the electric cooling fan cuts in. Also look for evidence of the head gasket having failed, such as white smoke from the exhaust, or oil and water mixing in the coolant tank, as this is far from uncommon, especially on tuned motors. 
• If there is any blue smoke from the exhaust, signifying burning oil, the most likely culprit is a tired turbo. A rebuilt is actually quite cheap, and not the specialist job it once was. 
• Gearboxes are strong and clutches are usually reliable too, but the automatic cable adjuster for the latter can be an issue. Some owners fit a (stronger) Volvo 480 clutch, but a longer actuating arm needs to be fitted or the action is too sharp for road use. 
• Most GT Turbos have had their suspension lowered, which can be a good thing if done properly. You’re looking for yellow Koni dampers, plus a strut brace up front. Creaks from the rear suspension betray tired bushes, but they’re easy enough to replace. 
• The brakes are okay but nothing special, so if you plan to make use of the GT Turbo’s available performance see if the anchors have been upgraded – few cars still sport their original system. Bear this in mind if you're planning to return a modded car to standard, as bigger brakes are unlikely to fit under the original 13-inch alloy wheels, which is why many now sport a set of larger Clio 16v or Williams alloys. 
• Interiors are fragile, especially the seat trims which wear through, split and tear. You’ll be doing well to find a decent set of used seats – and if you do you can expect to pay plenty for it. Like a lot of things, the seats can be repaired by someone with the necessary skill, but originality is king.
• You’ll also be doing well to find a dashboard that hasn’t had holes drilled in it, a parcel shelf that hasn’t had holes cut in it and a gearknob that still has all of its numbers showing as they wear away. It’s these details that can really bump up the value of a GT Turbo – and don’t under-estimate the difficulty of tracking down any decent used parts. 

Model history 

1985: The Renault 5 GT Turbo goes on sale with a 1397cc engine boosted by a Garrett T2 turbocharger. 
1986: The GT Turbo gets a water-cooled turbocharger for improved reliability. 
1988: Phase 2 GT Turbo features a new grille, a fresh alloy wheel design, revised cooling system and adjustments to the front suspension to improve tyre life. 
1990: Raider special edition comes only with blue paint with unique seat trim. Production totals 1000. 
1991: The last GT Turbos are built. 

Owners clubs, forums and websites 

• rtoc.org – Renault Turbo Owners’ Club
• www.renault5gtturbo.com – Website dedicated to the R5 GTT
• turborenault.co.uk – Performance Renault enthusiast forum

Summary and prices

Chances are you’ve been lusting after a Renault 5 GT Turbo since they were new, or you had and probably crashed one as a youngster. So many cars have been lost to insurance write-offs or poor tuning that demand for original cars far outstrips supply – making them a pricey business today. 
Expect to pay around £2000-£4000 for cars in varying states. You’ll need at least £7000 for a mint example, although exceptional cars at a dealer could cost in excess of £12,000. We’ve even heard of the very best super low-mileage examples selling for more than £15,000, and the market for 1980s hot hatches continues to thrive.
Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991) Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991) Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991) Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991) Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991) Renault 5 GT Turbo buying guide (1985-1991)
Last updated: 1st Feb 2017
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  • Renault 5 1994

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    2 owners from new, 44k miles, new MOT in October 2016, new brakes, service etc, IMMACULATE CONDITION If you could get one for free you could not restore it to this high condition of this example for £3000     please CALL 07748320454 to buy

    • Mileage: 44000 mi
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  • Renault 5

    £2,995 £2,995

    *SIMILAR CLASSIC CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. A magnifique time warp Second Generation Renault 5 GTL with just 30,744 miles. EQUIPMENT Aerodynamic wrap-around polyester bumpers, flush polyester side shields, bonded laminated windscreen, heated rear window, pivoting rear quarter windows, 2 speed + flick wipe, electric screen washer, rear wash/wipe, remote control driver’s door mirror, locking petrol cap, recessed front and rear arm rests, reclining front seats, vanity mirrors, swivel map reading light, illuminated cigar lighter, LCD clock, fuel warning light, brake pad wear light, Philips 764 radio cassette. Factory option; Tilting glass sunroof, Supergloss/metallic paint. Dealer accessories; Rear boot spoiler, alloy wheels, mud flaps. EXTERIOR This delightful and super chic Renault 5 is finished in factory optional Grenada Metallic (code 761). The deep rouge paintwork boasts a remarkable polished shine thanks to the Supergloss factory treatment with a pleasing uniform finish. Only faint stone chips to the front are worthy of mention yet incredibly the famously thin and ding prone panels are straight and damage free. Furthermore, the extensive polyester bumpers and trims sections are unblemished and affirm this examples low mileage and cherished ownership credentials. Cosmetically preserved in fantastic order, this fashionable French city car was at the forefront to the birth of the modern supermini and delivers a wonderful sense of nostalgia. INTERIOR The interior of this well specified GTL model is in time warp condition, a term often misused but truly justified in this instance. The upholstery consisting of Montrace ‘Petale’ shaped front seats with tweed cloth seat facings are spotlessly clean and have suffered virtually no wear, as has the full carpeting, door cards and headlining. The dashboard and switchgear are perfect and all functions and controls operate faultlessly including the Philips 764 radio cassette. The texture to the steering wheel usually worn smooth is as new. Features such as Renault rear screen stickers and the straight and uncut parcel shelf will please originality seekers, although the shelf has slightly faded in the sunlight. A well designed cabin with large glass areas to offer a true sense of spaciousness, it was clear to see Renault’s expertise in this class even in the 1980’s. A truly exceptional interior with Gallic quirkiness that will not disappoint. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION Fitted with the 1397cc 4 cylinder engine with electronic ignition, a power output of 60bhp at 5,250rpm is achieved, enough to reach 99mph and 0-60 in 14 seconds. A remarkably clean and unmolested engine compartment displays all the manufacturer plates and stickers with factory markings visible. The five speed all synchro gearbox, standard on the GTL models, offers an increased relaxed cruising manner in comparison to lesser models and this example feels tight and precise. All the fun you would expect from a small, nippy French car! WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES Optional extra Renault 5 Monaco 13” alloy wheels were specified as a dealer accessory alongside a set of genuine Renault mud flaps. The rims are in superb condition and the 165/65 R13 tyres have masses of tread remaining. Hydraulic twin circuit brakes incorporate discs up front and rear drums to bring this lightweight car to an assuring halt. HISTORY FILE Registered new on the 2nd May 1985 by Renault Main Agents B & S (Bucknall) Ltd, this remarkable example has led a very interesting and fun existence, with just 30,744 documented miles covered! The comprehensive history file contains the original plastic A5 wallet with the original service book, handbooks, supplements, and dealership literature. Furthermore, the history folder contains many invoices and receipts for service and maintenance work carried out throughout the life of the car as well as previous MOT certificates. An original sales brochure along with two sets of keys are present. The previous keeper of this delightful car was James Walshe, Deputy Editor of Practical Classics magazine. KGF Classic Cars have contacted James he is very keen to establish the next custodian of the car and complete a follow up feature in the magazine should the new owner wish. Now representing a very rare car, once a common sight but now seldom seen and virtually never in such incredible preserved condition. HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/jIwzggdMmkc To see a complete set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskxdq2JQ 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

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