It’s Alive! Renault 5 EV Concept Has Blinking Headlights Inspired by a Cartoon

Renault 5 Prototype 15 photos
Photo: Renault S.A.
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Unveiled last month as part of the French carmaker’s Renaulution strategy, the Renault 5 prototype is a modern reinterpretation of the popular hatchback released in the ‘70s. One of its most interesting design features is the headlight animation, which is inspired by a series of cartoons used to promote its ancestor.
After the resounding success of the company’s first EV, Renault has stepped up its efforts to remain relevant in the EV era. The carmaker recently revealed its latest strategy consisting of 14 new vehicles, 7 of which will be fully electric.

Among the previewed prototypes, the modern reincarnation of the R5 is by far the most spectacular, showcasing the carmaker’s plan to blend modern technologies and design with the heritage of its most successful past models.

Officially launched on 28 January 1972, the original Renault 5 quickly became one of the most popular cars in Europe, then spread across the globe, including the U.S. where it was sold as the Renault Le Car from 1976 to 1983.

The Original R5 with Cartoon Eyes
Photo: Renault S.A.
The rise in popularity in its home country was aided by a creative ad campaign called Les aventures de Supercar, a series of cartoons where the R5 was personified by receiving a mischievous pair of eyes in place of the headlights and a mouth on the front bumper, through which it introduced itself to the French people, often using the slogan “they also call me Supercar” (on m’appelle aussi Supercar).

In a recent video posted on the company’s official website, Nicolas Jardin, one of the exterior designers who worked on the R5 EV revealed how the cartoon character’s playful eyes inspired the design and functionality of the innovative prototype.

The modern reinterpretation of the iconic little hatchback features a pair of headlights that are completely different in terms of design to those of its ancestor, yet evoke its cartoon counterpart’s lively, slightly wrinkled eyes.

Renault 5 Prototype
Photo: Renault S.A.
Using the latest LED matrix technology, the design team was able to program animations that bring the EV’s headlights to life. When turned on, the car’s welcome sequence illuminates the new logo and triggers an animation that extends onto the central grille and then the headlights, which seem to blink. The animation finishes with the innovative daytime running lights, which were inspired by the old R5’s fog lights.

“Thanks to the matrix technology and animations in the welcome sequence, we were able to recreate the expressiveness and mischievousness of the original car's look,” said Jardin.

As much as I love the headlight design and the idea behind it, I think that Jardin’s statement is a bit of an exaggeration. In fact, the animation of the R5 prototype does a better job of recreating the expressiveness of a cyborg than the mischievousness of the original R5 or its cartoon counterpart.

Renault 5 Prototype
Photo: Renault S.A.
That being said, the prototype is an amazing feat for Renault’s design team, and I have yet to meet someone who thinks otherwise. With or without the animations, it’s definitely worthy of taking the R5 nameplate to the EV era, as opposed to the crossover that Ford calls a Mustang.

Renault has confirmed that it will release a production version of the electric R5 by 2025 and rumors have surfaced about a plan to develop a performance Alpine version as well.

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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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