Welcome to Old School vs New School, the series where we pick out the cars from the good old days, and pair them with their spiritual successors. Last week it was the Mazda MX-5 NA vs Mazda MX-5 ND. This week it’s the legendary Renault 5 GT Turbo vs the Renaultsport Clio RS Trophy…
Cast your mind back to the modifying scene of the late-1980s and the go-go nineties. Was it all TSW Venoms, asymmetric Delta bodykits and badly smoothed tailgates with number plates cabletied back on to please the rozzers? It’s easy to be cynical, but the bare bones of what we used to do in those days were pretty similar to what we’re up to today.
Sure, back then it was all about outrageous bodykits, big rims, neon lights, and massive audio installs… but doesn’t that sound familiar? Yep, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Of course, there are some things that were massively popular which have since totally gone out of fashion – everyone used to rock Lexus lights, headlights swaps from random different cars were popular, every other Saxo had four 6-inch exhausts… but a lot of the things that went out of fashion have come back around.
Like what? Well, three-spoke wheels, big aluminium spoilers, wide-arch kits – the difference is that people are focusing more on quality. It’s all in the details, from your obsessively smoothed engine bay to your impeccably retrimmed interior, and there’s a lot more awareness of rare parts; if you spend a year tracking down an obscure OEM+ spoiler that was only available in Austria for six months in 1994, the chances are that people will recognise it when you roll into a show.
The internet has broadened everyone’s horizons, and it’s also inspired a oneupmanship that keeps so many builds truly world-class. The days of building something over the winter and debuting it at a springtime show are largely over, as people are documenting their builds on Instagram, everyone’s open and aware, and it’s all about being the person who’s using the most original ideas to win the most peer approval.
With all that being said, some things really don’t change. At the heart of the tuning scene, now as it was then, we all want to run a car that goes fast, looks cool, and makes rowdy noises. The technology’s moved on, and the bar of quality gets raised time and time again, but we’re fundamentally still doing what we’ve always done. Long may it continue.
That’s enough of the chat, let battle commence!
THEN: RENAULT 5 GT TURBO
We’re loath to bring it up as it was featured in *that* other mag, but Jamie Shaw’s Renault 5 GT Turbo was one of the most important cars on the old-school hot hatch tuning scene, it really pushed the envelope for what was possible.
Which was good, because while the model was always popular, people were also quite suspicious of the GT Turbo. Why? They thought they were fragile, but that wasn’t the car’s fault – it was the fault of the owners who routinely turned up the boost and grenaded the engine on the dragstrip (or the seafront).
It was a properly cool little car though; like the 205 GTI it was super-lightweight with a poised and willing chassis, and of course it had the benefit of forced induction.
In the eighties and nineties, a turbo made you instantly more shaggable, that was just a fact.
RENAULT 5 GT TURBO SPEC
Performance: 115bhp, 0-62mph – 7.1s
Top mods: 4-inch exhaust, Ronal Turbo wheels, Konis, rollcage.
Price then: £7,420 (in 1986; equivalent 2018 price adjusted for
Price now: £5,000+
NOW: RENAULTSPORT CLIO RS TROPHY
Sporty Clio variants have been consistently revered since the original 16v, although Renault did rather shoot themselves in the foot a few years back when they stopped offering the Clio RS with a manual gearbox.
People quite like manual gearboxes and, while VW’s DSG was becoming very popular and all the sports car manufacturers were showing off their flappy paddles, people didn’t really want that kind of thing in a Clio.
Nevertheless, if you can make your peace with having a pedal missing, the Renaultsport Clio RS Trophy is a mighty machine. 183bhp/tonne, launch control, stiff dampers, quick steering, shouty exhaust – it’s the hooligan you want it to be. Particularly in Liquid Yellow.
RENAULTSPORT CLIO RS TROPHY
Performance: 217bhp, 0-62mph – 6.6s
Top mods: Akrapovic exhaust, Cup spoiler, Superchips remap, H&R coilovers, Tarox big brake kit.
What would you choose? The retro-tasctic boxy R5 GTT or the new kid, the Clio RS Trophy?
Words Dan Bevis