Renault Sport Spider (1996-1999): A Revolutionary Exotic Sports Car

July 3, 2023 1:08 PM

1996-1999 Renault Sport Spider

The 1996-1999 Renault Sport Spider is a rare and highly sought-after sports car that was manufactured by the French automaker Renault. Designed with a focus on performance and handling, this two-seater roadster is considered an iconic model in the automotive industry, especially from a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) perspective.


The Renault Sport Spider was first unveiled at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show. Inspired by the success of the Renault Spider Cup racing series, the production version of the car was created to capture the essence of open-top, track-oriented driving. Its sleek and aggressive design combined with advanced engineering techniques made it an instant hit among sports car enthusiasts.

Design and Body

The Spider boasted a distinctive and aerodynamic appearance, featuring sharp lines and a low-slung silhouette. Its lightweight aluminum body construction contributed to enhanced performance and agility. Notably, the car lacked a traditional roof, emphasizing the true roadster experience. The absence of doors further added to its unique charm.

Engine and Performance

Under the Spider's rear hood resided a high-revving 2.0-liter inline-four engine, sourced from the Renault Laguna sedan. This naturally aspirated powerplant produced an impressive output of 150 horsepower, enabling the Spider to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.9 seconds. The engine was mated to a close-ratio 5-speed manual gearbox, ensuring precise gear shifts and exceptional control.

The lightweight design and mid-engine layout of the Spider combined to create exceptional handling characteristics. Its low center of gravity and responsive steering allowed for excellent maneuverability, making it a joy to drive on twisty roads and race circuits alike. The suspension system was tuned for spirited driving, providing a perfect balance of comfort and performance.

Interior and Features

Inside, the Renault Sport Spider greeted occupants with a purposeful and driver-focused cabin. The minimalist approach was evident, as the car lacked conventional creature comforts to reduce weight and enhance the driving experience. Deeply contoured bucket seats provided excellent support during spirited cornering, while the leather-wrapped steering wheel and aluminum pedals added a touch of sportiness.

Production and Rarity

Renault produced a limited number of Sport Spiders from 1996 to 1999, with only around 1,800 units ever made. As a result, acquiring a well-maintained and original example has become a significant challenge for automotive collectors and enthusiasts. The car's rarity and exclusivity have contributed to its escalating market value, and it has gained a cult following among car aficionados around the world.

Influence on JDM Scene

Although the Renault Sport Spider was not manufactured for the Japanese Domestic Market, it left an indelible mark on the JDM scene. Enthusiasts in Japan admired the car for its unique design, impressive performance, and the pure driving experience it offered. The Spider served as a symbol of European sports car excellence, captivating JDM car enthusiasts who appreciated its rarity and engineering prowess.


The 1996-1999 Renault Sport Spider holds a special place in automotive history, revered by JDM enthusiasts for its exceptional design, performance, and limited production numbers. The combination of its lightweight construction, dynamic handling, and open-top experience make it a true driver's car. As an icon of the sports car world, the Renault Sport Spider continues to captivate the hearts and minds of car enthusiasts around the globe, especially from a JDM perspective.