Dieppe-based Alpine established itself with the A110, winning the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally and the World Championship. But by the late '70s competitors, like the Lancia Stratos, caught up. Renault had to act fast and decided to compete with a new car in the Group 4 (later Group B), the 5 Turbo.
The little mid-engined, rear-wheel drive beast proved to be a worthy successor, as in 1978, driven by rally legend Jean Ragnotti, also won the Monte Carlo Rally.
At that time, the most coveted road-going Renault was the Alpine A310. Two years later this changed, as the coupe's supremacy was challenged by the production version of the 5 Turbo, in what turned out to be one of the '80s biggest face-offs.
Initially, the A310 was powered by a 125 hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, featuring 2 twin barrel Weber carburetors. In 1976, besides being restyled, the French coupe was fitted with the 2.7-liter V6 engine, jointly developed by Renault, Peugeot and Volvo. Power rose to 150 hp, enough to push the A310 to a top speed of 220+ km/h (137+ mph).
When it launched in 1980, the 5 Turbo took another route while trying to deliver top-notch performances. Relying on its extensive F1 experience, Renault gave it a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, developing 160 hp. And unlike the standard 5 that had a front-mounted engine, the Turbo model featured a mid-engine layout.
The two cars were very different in terms of design, but both featured the same technical setup: mid-to-rear mounted engine and rear-wheel drive. This made the face-off very interesting, as performance-oriented buyers, capable of ignoring the price difference, had to make a difficult choice: displacement or force induction.
The decision was made even more complicated by the fact that the 5 Turbo was equally fast, reaching a top speed in excess of 200 km/h (124 mph).
Check out the gallery below to see more photos of the two cars and don't forget to share your choice with us, in the comments section.
By Csaba Daradics
Lead photo source: Idei , Videos: Youtube