Renault brings LeCar's spirit into the EV era with the 5 Prototype

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Renault beat most of its rivals to the modern, mass-market electric car segment when it released a futuristic-looking hatchback named Zoe in 2012. After looking ahead, it's doing a 180 and exploring its past. It introduced a concept named 5 Prototype that puts an electric twist on two of its best-known and best-selling models.

As we predicted, the 5 Prototype is influenced by both the original 5, which was introduced in 1972 and sold as LeCar in America, and its replacement, the Marcello Gandini-designed Super Cinq (super-five) built from 1984 to 1996 and never imported here. Up front, it wears rectangular lights and a new, retro-styled variant of the Renault logo. The firm's name appears in big, somewhat Raptor-esque letters across the front bumper.

Viewed from the side, the concept's silhouette echoes its predecessors with a short front overhang and a C-pillar slanted at about 45 degrees. Its relatively tall vertical rear lights are an unmistakable nod to the Super Cinq (the 5's were smaller), while the emblem placed on the passenger side of the hatch creates another visual link between the two cars, though we didn't expect to find it out back. It's inspired by the face-lifted Super Cinq, which went on sale in 1987 with a new-look grille that placed the Renault logo next to the driver-side headlight.

This might be a bit of a stretch, but we think the three-spoke design on the wheels channels the three-lug steelies mounted to the original 5. All told, the 5 Prototype isn't full-on retro, but it's brimming with heritage.

While we haven't seen photos of the interior yet, peeking through the windshield reveals a free-standing glass display that provides vital information about the car and its surroundings while saying hello. There's no word yet on whether it can be configured to say bonjour for the French market, or buongiorno in neighboring Italy.

Similarly, technical specifications haven't been published. All we know is that the concept is fully electric.

As for what's next, Renault merely noted it built the 5 Prototype to demonstrate how it will democratize the electric car in Europe "with a modern approach influenced by one of the most popular and essential cars of its era." Reading between the lines reveals that the 5 Prototype will be toned down into a production model that will likely be aimed at the Honda E, among other compact electric hatchbacks. It will make its debut in the coming years.

Looking ahead, the Paris-based firm pledged to release 14 cars by 2025, including seven EVs. Unverified reports claim that a modern version of the 4 built between 1961 and 1994 will be one of the battery-powered models.

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