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“The new Renault 5 oozes cool and desirability”

Editor-at-large John McIlroy thinks the Geneva launches of the Renault 5 and MG3 show that the death of the small car has been greatly exaggerated

Opinion - Renault 5

We know from our inboxes that like us, you’ve been becoming increasingly concerned about the future of small cars. Rising demands on efficiency and in-car tech mean the car industry has been struggling for years to make money on anything smaller than a Volkswagen Golf, so we’ve seen plenty of the more compact, more affordable offerings axed. Yet a vehicle that measures around four metres in length but is suitable for use as family transport still has real appeal for many of us.

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This is a good news week, then, because while it’s perhaps a little too early to claim that any sort of supermini fightback starts here, there is evidence of one.

The Renault 5, is a fabulous-looking rethink of a famous nameplate – an iconic model reinvented for the modern age, unashamedly pint-sized (it’s less than four metres long, so shorter than the late, lamented Ford Fiesta) but oozing cool and desirability. It may seem a little odd to mention a Renault in the same breath as a MINI or a Fiat 500, but we should probably get used to the idea.

MG’s targets are very different for its new MG3, a sorely needed replacement for a model that’s been long in the tooth for a while. And yet there’s much to celebrate here as well, given that the rapidly (re)growing brand is set to deliver hybrid power and all the tech supermini customers are likely to want, at a keen price.

There are plenty of rivals for these cars, combustion-powered and pure-electric, in the works from other brands like Citroen, VW and Skoda – plus the new Volvo EX30. None of these cars will be as cheap as the superminis of a decade ago, but they should still be affordable on monthly payments.

The signs are encouraging, then, that designers and engineers are starting to find ways of making small cars we want – and hopefully at prices we can afford.

Click here for our list of the best small electric cars...

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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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