If you like small French hatchbacks, you’ve come to the right place. See, we also like small French hatchbacks and there’s some enormous news stirring up the segment. The reborn Renault 5 E-Tech electric hatchback has leaked via World Intellectual Property Organization patent drawings, and it looks absolutely tremendous. It nails the retro brief perfectly.
With a hatch on the back, hidden door handles, and resilient plastic bumpers, the original Renault 5 was a breath of fresh air in the small car segment, and it sold in the millions. The crazy part? The whole car materialized from unofficial doodling. See, in the late 1960s, Renault planner Bernard Hanon penciled in plans to expand the brand’s small car range, and designer Michel Boué took up the gauntlet, sketching out the Renault 5 in his own time.
Soon, company bosses caught wind of Boué’s work, and the sketches were turned into a foam model in just two days. From there, development continued, with the car going on sale in 1972. Sadly, Boué wouldn’t live to see the sheer impact of his creation over the production run — he died just months after the Renault 5 went on sale. What a legacy to leave behind, though.
If you’re American and the styling of the new Renault 5 looks familiar, there’s a reason for that. Between 1976 and 1983, it actually made it to America, first under its global moniker and then under the name “LeCar,” which humorously doesn’t mean “the car” in French. Look, the 1970s were a time when you could name a car LeCar and have it adopted by American police forces. Things were weird.
Anyway, the new Renault 5 E-Tech is still a subcompact hatchback, but it adopts the five-door form modern consumers want. While the hidden rear door handles don’t quite offer three-door looks because the B-pillar is far forward, this treatment should still appeal to many fashion-conscious shoppers. Speaking of fashion, the Renault 5 E-Tech does retro right by adopting a handful of throwback elements rather than smearing it on with a trowel. A lighting silhouette here, a sloping line there, and presto: Just enough to show that this little hatchback had devilishly handsome parents.
While technical details haven’t leaked along with the styling, expect the Renault 5 E-Tech to run on Renault’s incoming CMF-B EV platform, which shares a bulk of components with the CMF-B platform underneath models like the Renault Clio. Expect NMC battery chemistry, modest power output, and pricing on the more reasonable end of the EV spectrum. Sure, this thing likely won’t be Dacia Spring cheap, but it should feel a full step up from that budget electric city car.
Sadly, the Renault 5 E-Tech isn’t looking like it’ll be sold in the U.S. or Canada, but that won’t stop us from looking on with curiosity as further details arise. There’s a chance we could get the promised (and faster) Alpine version, however. Expect an actual public unveiling early next year, which isn’t that far away when you think about it.
(Photo credits: World Intellectual Property Organization, Renault)
Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.