What is it?
The Renault Twingo range is an odd blend of contrasts: regular and rather dull 1.2 75 Dynamique... and the super-stiff , supremely terrierlike Renaultsport 133. It’s all to stem the losses suff ered by Renault’s British arm. Instead of importing a sprawling model range, simply bring in one mainstream and one hot model, cutting marketing costs and keeping things nice and easy for buyers. Interesting.
OK, that Renaultsport model is good enough to ensure the Twingo still has relevance, but it’s the cooking model that is meant to cut the mustard. So, given such a bold strategy, it had better be good. And, visually, it is: this is the first Renault to get the brand’s new look, set to evolve further on this autumn’s all-new Clio. Less wilfully odd than the previous regime’s look, it is dominated by bold graphics you can spot from half a mile away, and showcases enough to bode well for future Renaults.
Renault is introducing some clever new small-capacity petrol engines in the fine Clio 4. Contrasting starkly with the 1.2 in the Twingo. Dating back to when Nicole still lived at home, it’s rather loud, rather whiney and not actually that much fun. Performance is OK for a city car and it doesn’t feel out of its depth on a motorway, but there are many other much more sophisticated motors. Just as there are better ones to drive: again, it’s OK, but not particularly good fun. Its high centre of gravity and fairly soft suspension means it has a tendency to roll, so it fails to live up to the promise of its sporty looks. Really, if driving fun is your thing, you need the ultra-stiff, superbouncy Renaultsport version, which is almost the antithesis of the standard model.
On the inside
It’s a bit like stepping back in time here. The blocky dashboard has a cute digital speedo in the centre but this can’t detract from the hard plastics and dated design. At least Renault has attempted some modernisation, with black plastics, silver detailing and more contemporary seat trim. It’s well equipped too: air con is standard and even cruise control is included. It only seats four though, with the twin-sliding rear seats individually shaped to offer reasonable comfort. This bit is actually sportier than the car itself.
Average economy of 55.4mpg is both good yet not as impressive as the class best. CO2 emissions are a full 20g/km off claiming the free road tax status many rivals now manage. Renault’s new Four Plus warranty is much more like it, with four years’ warranty, servicing and breakdown cover included for free. You can even choose a four-year finance deal.