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While the R5 will debut a lot of driver assistance and monitoring systems, there is thankfully Renault’s personalisation button which allows drivers to select with one button just which of those systems will be monitoring your progress. The only black mark for technophobes is the annoying animated avatar based on the Victory Vasarely-designed Renault badge, which appears on the screen like Microsoft’s irritating paperclip avatar Clippit. Thankfully, you can turn it off. 

Standout design

There’s not a bum note to be seen. With its unique design LED lights and interior, Frederic Morelle, the chief engineer, admits it hasn’t been the cheapest car to produce, “but it is an iconic object in its own right and needs its own jewellery”.

He says his team is very proud of the R5 and Renault management has been equally impressed. “They see it and love it, they climb in and love it and they drive it and say: ‘Wow Frederic, this is wonderful. A B-segment car, are you sure?’” 

Typically for partly state-owned Renault, R5 production is an all-French affair with the motors, battery and vehicle assembly centred on Renault’s plants in northern France, respectively Cléon, Ruitz and Douai. The battery cells come from AESC Envision, a battery maker started by sister company Nissan, but now 75 per cent owned by Chinese battery maker Envision. 

While the Chinese are threatening to flood the market for small electric cars, none of them are quite as compact as the B-segment R5. The BYD Dolphin and MG MG4 are both longer than four metres. There’s no word on the promised Nio Firefly, either, which is also aimed at this market.

There was a spoiler from Fiat (not at the Geneva show, but instead at an Italian town with a similar name), with five versions of next year’s new Panda. It’s larger than the current model, so comfortably over four metres in length, and weirdly including pickup, SUV and even Camper versions, which surely is missing the point in the biggest possible way.

In fact the only car that might be seen as a direct competitor for the Renault R5 is the new Citroën ëC3, which arrives this year with a mooted price of about £21,000 and a range of 198 miles.

We couldn’t possibly comment, but you might wryly observe that this looks awfully like history repeating itself, with Renault’s 4 pitted against Citroën’s 2CV.

Let battle commence.

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