Renault rears its new teeny-weeny Twingo

16:05 06 November 2014

Renault has moved the engine to the rear of the Twingo which frees up a lot of space inside this compact city car.

Renault has moved the engine to the rear of the Twingo which frees up a lot of space inside this compact city car.


If you want a little car with lots of space then look at the Twingo, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Renault Twingo since my boys spent a driving holiday in France singing ‘Twing-oh, Twing-oh’ to the theme tune of TV puppet show Stingray every time they saw one.

So it was disappointing but, from a noise point of view, a relief that the first-generation was left-hand drive only and not officially on sale in the UK. Its successor did arrive here but by that time the city car sector was well and truly up and running and it did not stand out from the crowd.

Renault has been radical with the third-generation model which, developed alongside the new Smart Forfour, is rear-engined, rear-wheel drive and has five doors. This little Renault is different enough to get noticed again but, more importantly, moving the engine to the back creates more space in a shorter body – good news on traffic-clogged roads.

Two three-cylinder petrol engines are offered – a 70hp 1.0-litre and, in top Dynamique model, a 90hp 0.9-litre turbo unit seen in the Clio supermini and Captur crossover.

Renault Twingo

Price: Twingo Play 1.0 SCe 70, £9,995 (range £9,495 to £11,695)

Engine: 999cc, 70hp, three-cylinder petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 14.5 seconds; top speed 94mph

MPG: Urban 50.4; extra urban 72.4; combined 62.8

CO2 emissions: 105g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 14%

Insurance group: 3 (out of 50)

Warranty: Four years or 100,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? Length 3,595mm; width (including door mirrors) 1,875mm; height 1,554mm

The 1.0-litre, in Expression, Play and Dynamique trims, will be the big seller and is fit for purpose in this little city car. It feels nippier than the figures suggest with a smooth, progressive power delivery but needs to be revved before it feels remotely brisk. Once up to speed it can hold 70mph reasonably comfortably but even a slight incline means dropping down to fourth to maintain momentum.

Take it easy and you gain at the fuel pumps. I never saw less than 50mpg even in heavy traffic – it’s a shame in a city car that only Dynamique versions get automatic engine stop-start – with a best of 58mpg.

Pushing the wheels out to the corners of this compact car gives the Twingo the biggest possible footprint on the road which helps with ride and roadholding. For a small car, I was impressed with the overall ride – soaking up the worst of big bumps and roadwork scars and feeling planted on the road at speeds but rough surfaces create a bit of buzz.

On the handling front, just because the Twingo is rear-wheel drive with the engine at the back don’t expect a dynamic drive – this is a city car after all. It corners confidently with decent grip and little body roll while, in urban traffic and tight spaces, the light steering and class-leading tight turning circle come into their own.

That rear engine, tilted and mounted under the boot floor, does allow some clever packaging to maximise space inside the cabin. Despite being 10cm shorter than the outgoing model, the new Twingo has an extra 12cm between the front and back wheels and 33cm more cabin space – that’s a lot in car that is only 359cm from its squat nose to flat tail.

It means the Twingo can carry four average adults in acceptable comfort on short journeys once you have got in through the relatively small back doors which have windows that hinge outwards. On the downside, the engine eats into boot space – the 219 litres is sufficient for a reasonable supermarket shop or a couple of medium cases – but on the upside it’s easy to get loads in and out with the boot floor level with the top of the bumper. With the 50/50 split rear seat backs folded you end up with a flat, level load floor while, for long loads, the front passenger seat folds flat as standard.

The fun and funky theme continues inside with a youthful feel to the interior. The simple dashboard, dominated by the large speedo, is livened up with gloss plastic inserts and trim panels and, as is the trend these days, there are customising options and colourful personality packs.

While at 5ft 8in I found the driving position comfortable enough, tall drivers might find the seat a little high while the steering wheel adjusts only for height, not reach.

Connectivity is also a buzzword these days, especially if you want your car to appeal to younger buyers, so all Twingos get the smartphone-operated R & Go system which, via a universal plug-in cradle and free app, gives owners intuitive access to navigation, telephone, multimedia and trip computer functions as well as internet radio.

Three versions are available – Expression, Play and Dynamique – and even the entry model is attractively equipped but pay the extra £500 for the Play model to gain air-conditioning, height-adjustable driver’s seat and 15in two-tone black wheels trims which look so good that for the first couple of days I thought they were smart alloys.

The Twingo is a refreshing change in the city car market. It looks good, drives nicely and, with the engine at the back, Renault hopes it will lead from the rear.


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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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