1980s / 1990s / French / Renault

Renault’s 5 Baccara was a premium hatchback born 20 years before its time

renault-5-baccara-5The upmarket Renault 5 Baccara was hailed as one of the best-equipped small cars in Europe during the late 1980s. Exclusively offered as a three-door hatchback, it came standard with alloy wheels, a discreet body kit, as well as a thin gold stripe that went down both sides of the car. Buyers could choose from several model-specific paint colors, including two different shades of metallic brown.

The Baccara’s interior was exceptionally well appointed, marking a stark contrast over the rather bare-bones entry-level 5. The seats and the steering wheel were both upholstered in beige Connolly leather, while the list of standard features included power steering, power locks, and power front windows. The proverbial cherry on the cake was a leather bag mounted directly under the parcel tray and designed to keep clothes clean, which likely came in handy when motorists were transporting golf clubs after a rainy day on the course.

Fitted with a five-speed manual transmission, the 5 Baccara was powered by the same 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine that was found in the engine bay the sport-oriented GTX model, a trim that was also introduced in 1988. Rated at 90 horsepower and 97 lb-ft. of torque, the four-banger sent the car from zero to 60 mph in about 9.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 114 mph. Many well-off city-dwelling buyers who wanted a comfortable second car sought an automatic transmission; Renault knew that and offered the 5 Baccara with a three-speed unit at no extra cost. Unfortunately, it was bolted to an outdated 1.4-liter mill which was rated at 68 horsepower and 76 lb-ft. of torque, making the car poky and a real chore to drive outside of big cities.

Renault phased out the 5 Baccara halfway through 1990 to make room for the upcoming Clio Baccara. By that time, the luxed-up treatment had been applied to other members of the Renault lineup including the 21 and the range-topping 25 Baccara, which could rival certain Mercedes sedans in terms of comfort.

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