The first Renault Sport-badged road car, the Spider marked a major turning point in our history.
A futuristic appeal
The Spider has been turning heads since it was first unveiled at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show, prompting anyone coming across it for the first time to ask themselves: is it really a Renault Sport car?
The answer is a categorical yes. A break from the marque’s past, this ultra-sporty roadster saw Renault Sport make its move into a whole new market.
Let’s face it, who could fail to be moved by its plunging hood and dynamic styling, which blend in seamlessly with its radical, stripped-down look? It’s a guise reflected in the wings, which boast two large air intakes, and behind the two bucket seats, where the Spider’s trademark titanium grey rollover hoop sits.
In its first incarnation, the Spider lacked a windshield. In its place was a half-size “saute-vent”, which deflected the air over the heads of the driver and passenger, who were both required to wear helmets as a result. A later update saw the inclusion of a full windshield.
As you might expect from a car so eyecatching, this little French roadster is full of surprises, not least its scissor doors, which lend it the look of an Italian sports car.
The message is clear with the Spider: extras out, maximum efficiency in. Forget ABS, heating or power steering: in the “saute-vent” version, the Spider is pared down to a fighting weight of 930 kg, making it almost as light as a Twingo II. The passenger compartment is plain and understated. Steering wheel aside, there is nothing plastic on show: virtually everything is aluminium, which is also the main component of the chassis, hence the car’s extreme lightness.
Specially created for the iconic Clio-Williams in 1993, the naturally aspirated 2-litre, inline-four-cylinder engine sits in the centre rear of the car. Delivering 147 bhp and maximum torque of 175 Nm at 4,500 rpm, it is a perfect fit for this funky little beast, with the “saute-vent” version offering a very decent power-to-weight ratio of 6.2 bhp per kilo. In terms of performance, the Spider boasts a top speed of 213 km/h, and completes 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds and the 1000m standing start in 27.8 seconds.
Out on the road, the Spider is full of life, almost indecently so. A true radical, this outsized plaything offers sheer enjoyment on every corner and with every push of the pedal. Delivering on its promise of pleasure, the Renault Spider is a roadster to be reckoned with.
The Spider means a lot to our fans, and it means a lot to us too, coming into existence as it did at a time of major change for Renault Sport.
It was the start of a new era, a time in which we sought to build on our motorsport successes of the 1990s, most notably in Formula One, by marketing Renault Sport-badged sports cars, a development that saw Alpine production put on hold in 1995.
The Spider would be assembled by hand at the legendary Dieppe factory, the birthplace of the no-less-essential Alpine A110 berlinette and its sister cars.
Like the Alpine A110, the Spider is slender and plunging in shape, ensuring a certain continuity, almost as if the 1973 World Rally Championship winner were handing on to a successor. There is continuity also in the rims, inherited from the Alpine A610.
|Engine||2.0L 16 valve (centre rear)|
|Max. power||147 bhp|
|Max. torque||175 Nm at 4,500 rpm|
|Weight||930 kg (965 kg with windshield)|
|Top speed||213 km/h (204 km/h with windshield)|
|0-100 km/h (s)||6.9 (7.2 with windshield)|
|1000m standing start (s)||27.8 (28.1 with windshield)|