Renault Twingo – Review
by Liam Bird
It’s difficult not to have an affinity for Renault’s Twingo. The original slightly wedge-shaped, bug-eyed, left-hand-drive-only version was rarely seen this side of the channel and as such was something you used to associate with European travel. Next came the Mark II Clio based car of 2007. Significantly stronger and all together more attractive if, paradoxically, less distinctive than the car it replaced. The second generation Twingo not only became available with the steering wheel on the correct side but it also gave rise to the near rigidly suspended, frantically fast and thoroughly entertaining Renault Sport 133.
I once scared myself, and a particularly important passenger, half to death in one of those – but that’s a completely different story. Since then both I and the Twingo have matured a little. So much so that Renault decided late last year that it was time to give their little runabout a facelift.
The Twingo now sports new rear light clusters and a completely new nose. Gone are the cutesy toy-town looks that defined the previous car. Instead the latest Twingo has been treated to a blacked-out grille, some prominent oversized badging and not one, but two sets of lights. The combined fog-lamp and indicator units have helped to not only give the Twingo its own “face”, but also contributed, together with some funky new colours, to a much more modern and dare I say it, chic appearance.
Mechanically things have remained the same. There’s only one choice of engine to accompany those external revisions: all 1,149cc, 16 valves and 74bhp of it! But let’s not be too unfair. It might not get you anywhere particularly quickly and, it has to be said, it does make a bit of din when it’s worked hard, but the upsides are a combined MPG of 55, a punchy eagerness around town, and the feeling that it’s happy to cruise at the legal limit all day long. The steering is light, if a little lacking in feedback, the gear-change is smooth and accurate, and the Twingo’s tiny size and excellent all-round visibility means it’s a doddle to thread through traffic.
Once out in the open the ride is pretty good. Poorer surfaces do mean things suffer a little bit and there’s a fair amount of body roll through the twisty bits too. But ultimately long distances are not what this car was built for; in the city the car works just fine.
Swing open one of the Twingo’s long doors and it soon becomes apparent that Renault may have given the outside a fresh new look but inside things remain the same. Swathes of hard and unforgiving looking, grey plastics cover everything from the doors to the dashboard.
A single centrally mounted pod houses a cheap looking combined digital speedo and fuel gauge and… well, that’s about it. You do get a CD player with MP3 connectivity and individual rear seats that slide fore and aft to increase either boot space or rear passenger room. Plus there are driver and passenger side airbags that help give a 4 star Euro Ncap star rating and Bluetooth too; you’ll have to turn the steering wheel to the left to find the controls though, they are completely obscured by the spokes.
Comfort wise it’s not bad, but calling the Twingo’s interior plush is stretching the imagination a little too far. Thanks to its facelift the Twingo – on the surface at least – now looks better than ever. And a four year, 100,000 mile warranty makes it pretty appealing too. However, more modern city car offerings from the likes of VW, Skoda, and SEAT offer better packaging, more technology, and smoother, cleaner engines, meaning that, sadly, the Twingo is beginning to feel its age. For little more than £10,000 you could take a Twingo home. If you do though, you’ll always have that nagging feeling you that could have spent your future with a younger model instead.
Renault Twingo Sport 1.2 Dynamique
Engine: 1,149cc 4cylinder, 16Valve
Transmission: 5 speed manual, front wheel drive
Power: 74 bhp @5500rpm
Torque: 79lb ft @4250rpm
0-62MPH: 12.3 Sec
Max Speed: 105mph
MPG: 55.4 (combined)
Price: from £10,350 (car driven £11,485)