The Renault 5 Diamant Literally Reinvents The Wheel In A 50th Anniversary Tribute To One Of France’s Most Iconic Cars

Renault 5 Diamant Topshot

Think fast. You’re an automaker looking to celebrate 50 years of a discontinued model. How would you do it? Perhaps you’d trot out a very early example of said model, or create a retro-style concept based on a current production car. Fairly typical moves. However, if you’re Renault, you hire designer Pierre Gonalons and tell him to go absolutely nuts. Say hello to the Renault 5 Diamant, the most insane automaker one-off I’ve seen in a long time.

Back up a second. Who is Pierre Gonalons? A Paris-based designer and architect, Gonalons specializes in gloriously wild design across a variety of disciplines. For instance, Gonalons’ San Primo sofa feels like a classic mid-century modern piece viewed through a funhouse mirror. I’m a huge proponent of non-automotive designers getting into car design, a massive fan Marc Newson’s Ford 021C, so it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that I’m absolutely thrilled by Gonalons’ involvement here.

Renault 5 Diamant Pierre Gonalons (1) Resized
Photo credit: Renault

Right, let’s jump into the exterior of the Renault 5 Diamant. You’ve quite likely noticed how incredibly pink this car is, although pink is only component of the paint. See, gold pigments are sprayed over a pink base coat, then topped with a satin clearcoat. The result is this frosted donut-like paint that’s absolutely delectable. Paired perfectly with the pink paint is a raft of soft gold accents, from the lower trims to the grille. Honestly, you kind of need gold for a 50th anniversary, and this modern soft gold is intriguing and less garish than traditional gold. More of this, please.

Renault 5 Diamant Pierre Gonalons (5) Resized
Photo credit: Renault

Take a closer look at the front of the Renault 5 Diamant and things start to get weird. Instead of the standard Renault 5’s flush headlights, the headlights on the Diamant stick out from the body and feature gem-cut lenses. Paired with the square-punched gold grille, these lights make the Diamant’s front end looks familiar and outlandish all at once. Also worth noting? The shaved front bumper. No indicators, no lower grilles, just space for a license plate, a gold finish, and that’s it. Keep an eye on this pairing of minimalism with maximalism, we’re sure to see it later.

Renault 5 Diamant Pierre Gonalons (9) Resized
Photo credit: Renault

Moving to the wheels of the Renault 5 Diamant, they claim to be sourced from a Renault 5 Alpine, although they don’t look like any R5 Alpine wheels I’ve seen. Perhaps they’re just wearing hubcaps with sun symbols, something Gonalons holds dear. Shuffling around back, we start to see some familiar themes. Like the headlight lenses, the tail light lenses are gem-cut and perfectly clear. It’s a wild look that I’m honestly all here for. All-clear tail lights are still cool as hell. They pair perfectly with the square-punched grilles on the C-pillars and the subtle gold badges on the hatch. Good stuff.

Renault 5 Diamant Pierre Gonalons (2) Resized
Photo credit: Renault

One thing you don’t see at the back of the Renault 5 Diamant is an exhaust tip, and for good reason. This particular Renault 5 is entirely electric, with circular digital gauges and an electronic shifter. Thankfully, the focus on electric power is largely restrained here. Sure, you get a phone dock and fingerprint readers to unlock the car, but Ganalons hasn’t gone overboard and that’s a very good thing. Besides, even without much in the way of tech, the interior of the Renault 5 Diamant still knows how to make a statement.

[Editor’s Note: How are you not mentioning that this is one of the only cars ever to have freaking doorknobs instead of door handles? – JT]

Renault 5 Diamant Pierre Gonalons (8) Resized
Photo credit: Renault

Have you ever seen a marble steering wheel on a car before? No? Honestly, neither have I. Nor have I seen one with an insane double-loop shape and an offset hub. It’s not a circle, it’s not a yoke, it’s made of recycled Grand Antique d’Aubert, and it’s just so wonderfully bizarre. Then you look down and realize that the steering wheel isn’t the most insane part of the interior. The accelerator pedal appears to be centered under the steering column, meaning that due to the massive box where your right leg would go, you could theoretically drive this car using only your left leg. It’s completely mad, yet not in a bad way.

Once you wrap your head around the absolutely mental driving position in the Renault 5 Diamant, the rest of the interior starts to feel a bit conventional. It most certainly isn’t, but it’s just so hard to top that level of lunacy. Still, a marble center console tries its best, while the horsehair dashboard is hand-woven by Métaphores. Renault claims that Métaphores is the only workshop on earth to hand-weave horsehair, a rather bold assertion. Maybe there’s a textile clause to that, but still. Speaking of textiles, the mohair carpet is made by French tapestry artisan Pinton. In case you’re wondering what kind of animal a mo is, mohair comes from Angora goats. Hey, the more you know, right?

Renault 5
Photo credit: Renault

All in all, the Renault 5 Diamant is a very fitting tribute to an absolute icon of French motoring. See, the Renault 5 itself was a product of wonder and material innovation. As told to Hemmings, the story goes that stylist Michel Boué first sketched the Renault 5’s silhouette over a photo of a Renault 4 simply out of wonder. One of his bosses saw the drawing, and the car allegedly made it from sketch to full-scale model in just two days. Feasibility of the flush bumpers would come later, largely unadulterated from Boué’s vision. While Boué himself passed away before the Renault 5 entered production, his vision lived on in more than five million production examples.

Renault 5 Diamant Pierre Gonalons (10) Resized
Photo credit: Renault

So, wonder and material innovation requires a tribute of similar wonder and material innovation. Come on, you can’t argue that there isn’t a sense of wonder to that marble steering wheel, or that pink frosted paint job, or the gem-cut lamps. Mind you, the Renault 5 Diamant does involve NFTs which seem quite dreadful, but the car itself seems rather spectacular. A fitting tribute to a French icon and a fitting bridge to the reborn electric Renault 5 launching in a few short years. Pretty please, Stellantis. Can we have a go in the new one?

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34 Responses

  1. Delete the marble steering abomination, and nft b.s., tuck the headlamps in (cause I imagine some moron twisting them off) and go with Ruby and Amber jewel-cut taillights.
    Suddenly it seems like a cute lil runabout, and that’s a good thing!!

  2. Stellantis?

    I always liked the R5. A perfect blend of fun and honest. This, not so much for me, but I like that it was created. I would actually be happy driving this just to watch all the snowflakes around me get all apoplectic about the lack of airbags and 20″ wheels in case of a crash. “Oh my, won’t somebody pleeeeze think of the children”. LOL

    I’ll take that steering wheel over buttons and airbags any day. Live a little baby!

    If VW did a gen 1 Golf tribute with modern rust proofing and in it’s original size, I’d put it it in my driveway and use it regularly.

  3. Hate the steering wheel and the headlights with a passion, the color is OK I guess, I’d rather a simple white but that’s just me.. everything else is awesome, I love that it doesn’t have a bunch of character lines, vents or nonsense..

    1. I’m ok with the absurd steering wheel, it’s the headlights and the hood emblem that I really dislike. I also don’t love the wheels, makes it look like it has white wall tires, and I can’t stand white walls in cars that didn’t have them originally. Everything else is pretty cool, the color is great, the grille looks awesome, love the rear, and especially the fact that it retains the exact shape of the original instead of some modern interpretation.

  4. I’ve respected and enjoyed everything I’ve seen you type. Until today.
    Clear tail lights, cool? No sir. Not ever. Only like four cars in all of history have worn them well, and this isn’t even one of them.
    Deep ruby red gem cut lenses would have been STUNNING.

    Also, the headlights really could have been tucked in, at least a little, it’s slightly too gumby, but overall, this is a phenomenal art piece, the colour is to die for and the restraint in altering the overall design and essence of the R5 pleases me.

    Clear tail lights, cool? Pfft. Outrageous.

  5. It’s astoundingly weird, and I’d never drive it, but as a tribute/concept hewn from an R5, I really love the treatment. The car is cheap. The car is tiny. The car has gold and ‘gemstones’ and stone included. The gemstone head and tail lights seem absolutely useless, but it’s all for fun. The protruding headlights are a conscious choice, as it mimics a gemstone in a ring setting. I mean, never make a duplicate of this, never ever. But one of them is awesome.

  6. AND there is a marble framed lounge chair by the car as well!
    That leads to the suspicion that the “marble” is something else and painted to look like marble. Wonderful.
    I love the steering wheel.

  7. As owner of a 43 year old R-5 GTL, I am pleased that Renault honored the old ski-boot design. I have always loved the folding sunroof, and the paint scheme is fantastic. Not sure about the doorknobs and steering “wheel”.

  8. Renault is at their absolute wacky best with concept vehicles. I’m still getting over the brilliance of the interior in the Espace concept they just showed recently and now they drop this delightful goofball. I can’t help but love it. The source material is still captivating. I just wish their current production cars had the same amount of character.

  9. I’ve owned several Renault 5s, and applaud Pierre Gonalons (no, I don’t recognize the name) for not messing up what was a clean, practical design that, IMO, deserves to be called “timeless.” Even if I quibble with quite a few of the detail touches, none look like anything that couldn’t be unbolted or painted over.

    It makes me want to take an R5 and do something similar in terms of smoothing out and detailing the fine original. Finding parts to restore and renew the mechanicals would give me pause, though. That’s why I got rid of the ones I owned….

    I’m not Modern or Trendy enough to go the electric-powertrain route. Instead, I’d base it on the Alpine 5 Turbo, a sweet little machine. Always wanted one of those but, alas, only got as far as driving one once.

  10. You had me ’til NFTs. Oh, and Stellantis? I don’t think they’ll be much help.

    BTW, Michel Boué had originally wanted the taillights to go all the way to the top (which Renault went on to do with the Supercinq), I feel like it was a missed opportunity to not do this with the Diamant.

  11. I am utterly flabbergasted at how much I like this thing. I’m no fan of the millennial-pink-rose-gold thing, but I think this car looks great. I absolutely love the doorknobs. The steering wheel tickles me beyond belief. I’d drive this every day and giggle the whole time.

    But NFTs? No thanks. At all.

  12. The more I look at that steering wheel, the more I think it might actually be usable. I mean, marble is a poor functional choice—slippery, cold, will probably eventually shatter—but the shape manages to be extremely weird while still mostly providing a circular area for the driver to grip. It would be better than a yoke, at least.

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