Renault 5 Turbo & Maxi Turbo (Group B)

Published on: Jan 20, 2016 @ 20:57
Originally Published in: 2014 (old website)
(C) Jay Auger - website owner, main author & chief editor
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Renault 5 Turbo Rally Car


In the mid-1970s, Lancia had created a bespoke rally car that swept the World Rally Championship three years in a row: the Stratos. The allure of such a mid-engine layout, built specifically to win rallies, was hence a very interesting proposition for Renault’s Jean Terramorsi, vice-president of production. He therefore asked Bertone’s Marc Deschamps to design a very special version of the Renault 5 Alpine to be used for rally homologation.



Normal Production Renault 5 – Also known as “Le Car” in the USA.

The standard Renault 5 Alpine had a 93 BHP, front-mounted and normally aspirated engine paired with front-wheel drive which made it a fairly fast car on all surfaces. However, in 1977 began a radical new idea under the moniker “Project 822”, resulting in the legendary R5 Turbo. It featured a 160 BHP, mid-mounted, and turbocharged 1397cc engine with rear-wheel drive. The mechanical elements were also much different from the standard model and the track widths increased substantially. The car was visually striking since it seemed almost as wide as it was long. All of these changes were performed with a single goal: win rallies.

Renault 5 Turbo- technical view

Officially homologated in 1980 after an initial production run of 400 cars, the Renault 5 Turbo was unleashed as a Group 4 rally car around the same time of the introduction of the Audi quattro. While the quattro is regarded as a revolution in rallying thanks to its four-wheel drive system, the R5 Turbo was equally important as a “game changer” since its mid-engine conversion of an existing car model would be a “recipe” followed by many other subsequent rally car designs. In this respect, the R5 Turbo is often regarded as “the school of Group B”.

type “Cévennes”

The first upgraded Renault 5 Turbo rally competition model is known as type “Cévennes”, named to commemorate a victory at the rally of the same name. It featured an upgraded “C6J” turbocharged engine producing around 180 BHP.

The type Cevennes was driven by Jean Ragnotti to win the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally and the 1982 Tour de Corse Rally. However, while the car was quite able on tarmac, it was a handful to drive on slippery terrains.

type “Tour de Corse”

In 1983, for the official transition from Group 4 to Group B, Renault would introduce a new version of the rally car which was updated to the new regulations: it was known as type “Tour de Corse” to commemorate Ragnotti’s win at the event the year before. It featured minor aerodynamic improvements and a stronger engine rating of 210 BHP, but as much as 285 BHP was reported to be available by the end of 1984.

However, unlike most other models which would take advantage of Group B’s looser regulations, the R5 Turbo found itself handicapped by its smaller engine displacement of 1397 cc, which paired with the new multiplication factor for forced induction engines (1397 x 1.4 = 1956 cc), would put the car in the B-11  1600~2000 cc class. This meant that the first Group B version had to run narrower tires than its previous Group 4 counterpart while not being able to make any gains towards the lower weight limit of that particular class. Combined with the higher horsepower rating, this traction handicap aggravated the car’s already twitchy handling.

The car’s best WRC result would be a respectable 3rd place podium finish at the 1984 Tour de Corse, again driven by Jean Ragnotti, but was shy of its previous successes. The R5 Turbo was obviously beginning to be seriously outclassed by the emerging Group B supercars. As such, the Renault Sport engineers went back to work…


Renault 5 Maxi Turbo

In late 1984, Renault Sport took full advantage of Group B’s evolution (ET) feature and seriously upped the ante with the ultimate version of the R5 Turbo: type “Maxi”. The twenty cars required for homologation featured revised aerodynamic elements such as a vented bonnet/hood, streamlining pillars, a large rear spoiler and integrated spot lamps into the bodywork.

More importantly, the engineers made use of the larger 1436 cc engine specifically homologated for the category and increased its displacement even more to 1527 cc which, paired with the forced induction multiplication (1527 x 1.4 = 2138 cc), would allow for wider tires and a wider track while keeping the car’s weight within the B-12 class minimum. The new “C7K” engine produced 360 BHP and more torque than its predecessor.

Renault 5 Maxi Turbo (5472x3648)
Renault 5 Maxi Turbo (5472×3648)

Renault Sport also implemented the “DPV” (Dispositif Pre-rotation Variable) anti-lag system found on its Formula One engines to help provide instantaneous power, thanks to its creator Jean-Pierre Boudy. The system uses a variable size hole to allow air into the turbocharger’s inlet side to help keep the turbine spinning off-acceleration and reduce lag. However the system was very basic in design and most drivers preferred a healthy dose of “LFB” (Left-Foot Braking) to keep the boost levels up instead.

To everyone’s surprise, Jean Ragnotti would beat all of the more powerful Group B supercars to win the 1985 Tour de Corse Rally, although the victory was tarnished by the tragic death of Attilio Bettega and subsequent withdrawal of the quick Lancias.

François Chatriot would come in second place at the 1986 running of the rally hence proving the excellence of the Maxi Turbo on the French tarmac, although again tragedy struck when Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto perished in their Lancia Delta S4 – crashing out while leading the event.

However, these were to be the only highlights of the car in the WRC as, besides the improvements, the car remained only rear-wheel drive and still struggled to be competitive on other types of surfaces.

Renault had to produce 20 cars to officially homologate the “Maxi” evolution into competition

In the end, even though the Renault 5 Turbo was mainly aimed at dominating tarmac events, it was very popular among privateers and was used extensively in the French Rally Championship. It is often referred to as the best value rally car of its day and carries an important legacy that is present even today.

The infamous Group B ban of 1986 would effectively terminate the R5 Turbo’s WRC career. However, the cars were allowed to continue competing in the various French championships by making use of the FFSA’s “Groupe F” category up until 1999. For the 1987 WRC season, Renault made the switch to Group A and competed with the 11 Turbo model.

It is notable to mention that all the pre-1984 works rally car versions were based on the “Turbo 1” homologation model. The 1985 Group B Maxi Turbos were based on the “Turbo 2” however with the “Turbo 1″‘s special light alloy parts available through the Evolution feature.

Gérard Roussel would subsequently convert his R5 Turbo to 4WD for use in the French rallycross championship, more information about that particular car can be found by CLICKING HERE.


  • C = “Cévennes” version
  • T = “Tour de Corse” version
  • M = “Maxi” version
  • B/11 (C)
  • B/11 (T)
  • B/12 (M)
  • Homologation #: 669 (Group 4) & B-205 (C)
  • Homologation #: B-234 (T)
  • Homologation #: B-267 (M)
  • (click on # to view papers)
Years Active (WRC)
  • 1980~1982 (C)
  • 1983~1986 (T)
  • 1985~1986 (M)
Homologation start:

  • September 1st 1980 (Group 4) / February 1st 1982 (Group B) (C)
  • January 1st 1983 (T)
  • December 1st 1984 (M)

Homologation end:

  • December 31st 1987 (C)
  • December 31st 1989 (M)
  • December 31st 1991 (T)
  • C6J – code 840 “Cléon-Fonte”, I-4, OHV 8v, gas (C,T)
  • C7K, I-4, OHV 8v, gas (M)
located rear longitudinally vertical, in front of rear axle
  • 1397 cc (C,T)
  • 1527 cc (M)
  • WRC x 1.4 = 1956 cc (C,T)
  • WRC x 1.4 = 2138 cc (M)
Compression Ratio 7.0:1
Output Power – Torque
  • 180 HP @ 7000 rpm (C)
  • 210~285 HP @ 7000 rpm (T)
  • 360 HP @ 6500 rpm (M)
  • – (C)
  • 221 lb-ft (300 Nm) @ 6000 rpm (T)
  • 311 lb-ft (421 Nm) @ 3750 rpm (M)
Materials block: cast iron cylinder head: aluminium
  • Garrett T3 turbocharger (C,T)
  • Garrett T31 turbocharger (M)
  • air/air intercooler
  • Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical/hydraulic multi-point fuel injection
DPV anti-lag system (M)
Ignition electronic, firing order 1-3-4-2, NGK BPR5EIX Iridium IX, or NGK BPR5EGP G-Power Spark Plugs
Cooling System water-cooled
Lubrication System dry sump
Type rear-wheel drive
  • Type UN, 5-speed manual gearbox (all)
  • magnesium case (M)
Gearbox Ratios
  • 1st: 3.363
  • 2nd: 2.058
  • 3rd: 1.380
  • 4th: 1.057
  • 5th: 0.868
  • R: 3.182
  • 1st: 3.250
  • 2nd: 2.235
  • 3rd: 1.619
  • 4th: 1.250
  • 4th: 1.260 (M)
  • 5th: 1.035
  • R: 3.182
Differential Ratios
  • 4.375, 3.889
  • 1984+: 3.444
spiral bevel gears 40% limited-slip rear differential
Clutch dry – double plate
  • steel monocoque Type 8220 with roll-cage, 3 door hatchback steel/aluminium/polypropylene bodyshell with aluminium doors, front polyester bonnet, rear aluminium/polypropylene bonnet and polyester front and rear bumpers. (C,T)
  • polypropylene front and rear bonnets (M)
Front Suspension double wishbones with lower longitudinal torsion bars connected to lower wishbone, gas shock absorbers and anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension double wishbones with coil springs, gas shock absorbers and anti-roll bar
Steering System rack and pinion with optional hydraulic power assistance
  • 13.2:1 (C,T)
  • 11.1:1 or 12.7:1 (M)
  • FRONT: ventilated rotors 260mm diameter with 1 steel/aluminium piston caliper, or 277/304mm diameter with 4 aluminium piston calipers.
  • REAR: ventilated rotors 260mm diameter with 1 steel/aluminium piston caliper, or 277/304mm diameter with 4 aluminium piston calipers
dual-circuit with servo, adjustable ratio split front to rear

  • 3664 mm (144.3 in) (C,T)
  • 3700 mm (145.7 in) (M)

  • 1760 mm (69.3 in) (C,T)
  • 1769 mm (69.6 in) (M)
height: 1320 mm (52.0 in)
wheelbase: 2430 mm (95.7 in) front track:

  • 1346 mm (53.0 in) (C,T)
  • 1390 mm (54.7 in) (M)
rear track:

  • 1474 mm (58.0 in) (C,T)
  • 1490 mm (58.7 in) (M)
Rims – tires Cévennes / Tour de Corse

  • F 5.3″ x 13.38″
  • R 7.7″ x 14.37″/ 15.35″


  • F 7″~7.5″ x 15″
  • R 10″ ~11″ x 15″
Cévennes / Tour de Corse

  • F 190/55 HR 340
  • R 220/55 VR 390


  • F 205/55 x 15″
  • R 265/45 x 15″
Dry/Unladen Weight 900 kg (1984 lb)
  • 5.0kg/HP (11.0 lb/HP) (C)
  • 3.5 kg/HP (7.7 lb/HP) (T)
  • 2.5 kg/HP (5.5 lb/HP) (M)
Fuel Tank 95 lt
Drag Coefficient 0.44


In late 1979, the first 400 production R5 Turbos were made to comply with Group 4 homologation and allow the car to compete in international rallies. 1290 more units would be produced in the following two years at the Alpine factory in Dieppe, France. It was a small peppy car perfect for blazing away the French countryside. It had “only” 160 BHP but could dash to 100 kph (62 mph) in 6.4 seconds nonetheless, often shaming more powerful sports cars on the road. Many R5 Turbos were thus upgraded to competition spec.

A second version named “Turbo 2” was introduced for 1983 by using cheaper steel parts to replace many of the light alloy components found in the original 5 Turbo version. Thus, the Turbo 2 was approximately 25% less expensive than the original version. It is notable to mention that the Turbo 2 itself was homologated a few months later to allow customers to compete with the car.


Although the Turbo 2 was produced a total of 3167 units to be sold solely to the general public, it can still be considered to be a homologation special. This was especially true since you could source a factory kit to update your car to every new spec out of the Renault Sport catalogue. The R5 is still very popular and coveted amongst rally and “tuning” enthusiasts.

Internally known as the Type-8221, Renault produced a special run of 200 cars in 1984 mainly to homologate the 1436cc engine into Group B, allowing the 20 “Maxi” evolution cars to run into the B/12 category with the maximising modifications that this change allowed for. Also known as the “Turbo 1430” on the official homologation papers, the Type-8221 were very similar in spec to the “Turbo 2” – making them difficult to visually distinguish from their lesser brethren. These very special cars are however the most sought-after version of the R5 and fetch a huge premium at auctions.


In 2001, Renault Sport rebooted the R5 Turbo’s spirit with the making of the Clio V6: it used the very same recipe of taking a small, front-engine, front-wheel drive economy car and turning it into a nimble, mid-engine, rear-wheel drive racer.


  • 1 = Turbo
  • 2 = Turbo 2
  • 3 = Turbo 1430 (Type-8221)
Class Sports / Supermini
  • Homologation #: 669 (Group 4) (1)
  • Homologation #: B-205 (2)
  • Homologation #: B-267 (3)
  • (click on # to view papers)
  • 1980~1982 (1690 units (1)
  • 1983~1985 (3167 units) (2)
  • 1984 (200 units) (3)

  • Dieppe, France (1)
  • France & Belgium (2)
  • C6J – code 840 “Cléon-Fonte”, I-4, OHV 8v, gas (1) (2)
  • C7K, I-4, OHV 8v, gas (3)
located middle, longitudinally in front of rear axle
  • 1397 cc (1) (2)
  • 1436 cc (3)
Compression Ratio 7.0:1
Output Power – Torque 160 HP @ 6,000 rpm  158 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm
Materials block: cast iron cylinder head: aluminium
  • Garrett T3 turbocharger
  • air/air intercooler
  • Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection
Boost: 14.5 psi
Ignition electronic, firing order 1-3-4-2
Cooling System water-cooled  front-mounted radiator
Lubrication System
Type rear-wheel drive R30 Type 369, 5-speed manual gearbox
Gearbox Ratios 1st: 3.363
2nd: 2.058
3rd: 1.380
4th: 1.057
5th: 0.868
R: 3.182
Differential Ratio
Clutch dry, double plate, hydraulic assist
  • steel/aluminium/polypropylene bodyshell with aluminium doors, front polyester bonnet, rear aluminium/polypropylene bonnet and polyester front and rear bumpers. (1) (3)
  • steel monocoque / 3 door hatchback, steel bodyshell. (2)
Front Suspension double wishbones with lower longitudinal torsion bars connected to lower wishbone, telescopic gas shock absorbers and anti roll bar
Rear Suspension double wishbones with coil springs, telescopic gas shock absorbers and anti roll bar
Steering System rack and pinion with optional hydraulic power assistance
  • FRONT: ventilated rotors
  • REAR: ventilated rotors
length: 3660 mm (144.1 in) width: 1750 mm (68.9 in) height: 1320 mm (52.0 in)
wheelbase: 2430 m (95.7 in) front track: – rear track: –
Rims – Tires
Curb Weight 970 kg (2138 lb)
Weight/Power 6.1 kg/HP (13.4 lb/HP)
Fuel Tank
Drag Coefficient 0.44 Cd



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(C) Article by Jay Auger – website owner, main author & chief editor.