31 January 2008

’Go faster

Renault unveils its hot little city car in Paris alongside F1 challenger

Renault Twingo

We first started to get excited about the prospect of a RenaultSport Twingo when it debuted in concept form back at the Paris motor show in 2006.

It was a true show stealer, but disappointingly the production Twingo did away with the concept's flared arches and general wide-silled coolness.

We've been teased with all sorts of spy shots and so on of the RenaultSport Twingo since then but today, finally, we can see what it actually looks like.

And it looks good. Renault chose the launch of its F1 challenger, the R28, to unveil its hot hatch city car, which will be to the Twingo as the 197 is to the stock Clio.

Performance details are slim at this stage - expect us to know more come its proper debut at Geneva - but we do know the RenaultSport develops 131bhp from its 1.6-litre engine, a revised version of the 109bhp unit found in the Clio.

That may sound like a modest power output, but remember that the Twingo is barely bigger than the Fiat Panda. RenaultSport certainly knows how to make a decent chassis, too, so it should be a laugh on the road.

Best of all, we'll even see a Cup option with lowered suspension and bigger wheels - 17-inch anthracite efforts over the RenaultSport's standard 16-inchers.

Visually, we reckon it's a huge improvement. The big arches and deeper front splitter give the Twingo a much more purposeful stance, while that tricksy three-part rear spoiler looks better in the flesh than in the photos.

On the inside, the only differences to the standard Twingo are a revised rev counter and aluminium-style pedals. Oh, and red seatbelts. But Renault won't confirm whether they'll be standard on the RenaultSport.

The hot little Twingo arrives in the UK this September. No firm word on prices yet, but even with a price hike of a few grand over the £10,000 Twingo GT, we reckon you'll struggle to have more fun for the money.

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