40 years of Renault Turbos: charged, wild and unbridled

40 years of Renault turbos
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E The weekend in mid-July 1977 marked a turning point in Formula 1. With Renault, a new works team made its debut in the premier class of motorsport, with an unusual engine concept: The RS01 was not equipped with the eight or twelve-cylinder three-liter naturally aspirated engine that was common at the time, but with a 1.5-liter turbo engine. The French team met with skepticism in the field: some smiled at the little engine, others were afraid of the supercharged V6 and tried to ban it.

1. July 1979: First turbo victory in F1

In fact, the start was bumpy. In its first race, the British Grand Prix, the only Renault with works driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille immediately retired - with turbocharger damage, of all things. In general, the early days of the team were characterized by an unreliable drive. Jabouille and his yellow-black-white racing car repeatedly indicated their potential, but rarely made it to the finish line. It wasn't until July 1, 1979: Jabouille won the home race in Dijon-Prenois; it was the first success of a turbo engine in F1. His bolide now had an engine that was pressurized by two small instead of one large charger.

The competition gradually realized that in future you would need a turbo engine in the rear to win. Whether Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, BMW or TAG-Porsche, they all relied on charging in the eighties and got up to 1,400 hp from their engines at peak times. And reaped that laurel that would never have grown had Renault not planted the seeds. The pioneer said goodbye to his first era in Formula 1 without a title.

The first production car with a turbo engine was not released until 1980

But that doesn't mean that the French no longer believed in the concept , whose basic idea company founder Louis Renault had already applied for a patent in 1902: A mechanically driven 'fan' or compact compressor conveyed the mixture from the carburettor into the cylinders at increased pressure. The result: better fuel efficiency, but above all higher engine performance. But it was a long time before the principle actually found its way into series production automobiles. The first turbodiesel engines appeared in truck construction in the 1950s. It was not until 1962 that the GM models Chevrolet Corvair Monza and Oldsmobile Jetfire passenger cars with turbo engines came onto the market. It took more than another decade before the BMW 2002 turbo, the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Saab 99 Turbo proved that the technology can also be used in sporty applicationsProduction cars can work.

Renault only dared to install turbo engines in its street cars in 1980. The first work was the Renault 18 Turbo, whose 1.6-liter four-cylinder mobilized 110 hp and accelerated the sedan to up to 185 km /h. The engine, which had an electronic control system with a knock sensor and a carburetor that was specially supplied with cooled air, was also used successfully in motorsport: Claude Marreau won the Paris - Dakar Rally in 1982 with the turbocharged, all-wheel drive Renault 20 Turbo.

Up to 350 hp in the wild Renault 5 Turbo

The Renault 5 Turbo came onto the market in 1981: its 160 hp 1.4 liter turbo was no longer above the front wheels, but longitudinally behind the front seats. With the small car, which was 20 centimeters wider, Renault entered the World Rally Championship stage and a little later joined the group of group B heroes with the 350 hp Turbo Maxi.

Much tamer, but still so As strong as a VW Golf GTI, the Renault 5 Alpine Turbo, also introduced in 1981, had a 1.4-liter turbo engine with 110 hp and a maximum of 147 Newton meters that worked as usual in the bow. This was followed by the Fuego Turbo with 132 HP and 200 km /h top speed (1983), the Renault 11 Turbo with first 105 and then 115 HP (1985), which also had a remarkable rally career in the near-series Group N, and the Renault 9 Turbo with 105 HP (1985). In the same year, the top model of the new Renault 5 generation came on the market: the GT Turbo with wide fenders, lettering and 1.4-liter engine, which also developed 115 hp thanks to its oil-cooled charger, from zero in eight seconds A hundred sprinted and reached 200 km /h.

Safrane Biturbo as a 268 hp highlight

Later, Renault's turbocharged mid-range sedans in particular caused a stir. For example the Renault 21 2L, which has been offered since 1987. Turbo, which mobilized 175 PS (162 PS in the catalytic converter version) and a maximum torque of 270 Newton meters. The edgy French drove up to 227 km /h and in the French touring car championship at times the competition. In 1993, the Safrane Biturbo went into completely different performance spheres. The three-liter V6 engine, which also had all-wheel drive with viscous coupling and adaptive shock absorbers, delivered 268 hp and a maximum of 365 Newton meters.

Today, turbo engines are standard not only at Renault, but in the entire automotive industry. And again those from Renault convince with sporty performances: It was not until April that the Mégane R.S. Trophy-R the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in 7: 40,100 minutes - a new best time for front-wheel drive series vehicles.


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