It’s telling that some of the hot hatchbacks still held in highest regard by driving enthusiasts come not from the last decade or so, but from the first few – the 1980s and 1990s.
Modern hot hatchbacks are far quicker. They go, grip and stop harder; conversely, they’re also more practical, more economical and safer.
None of these things necessarily makes them more fun though, which is what previous generations offered in spades.
If you decry this speed and modernisation at the expense of fun, may we introduce to you the Renault Twingo RenaultSport 133?
It’s name may not be as catchy as “205 GTI” or “Clio Williams” – “Twingo RS” is the preferred contraction – but it undoubtedly has their spirit.
133 PS (131 horsepower in old money) is a distinctly old-school output, and the similarities don’t end there. The 1.6-litre engine eschews turbocharging for natural aspiration, and is built for revving rather than lugging. Rev it does, to a snarling red line nestled somewhere around the 7,000 rpm mark.
You attack this number via a gearbox that seems happiest when punched through the gate. Throttle response is sharp and the drivetrain a real joy to use when you’re “on it”, while responsive brakes are happy to rein in the lightweight Twingo when required.
Refinement is an alien concept to the RS, the whole car vibrating even at modest speeds and skipping over bumps, but you forgive it this for the meaty, accurate steering and kart-like grip through corners.
Even the cabin, now feeling a little dated next to Renault’s newest offerings, suits the car. You rarely glance at the speedometer, mounted away to your left, instead focusing on the tachometer situated directly in front.
Ergonomics are a mixed bag – the well-bolstered seats are comfortable and supportive, while the steering wheel feels like that of an old Mini. Also mounted at a jaunty angle is the stereo, but trying to listen to it over the constant engine noise would be an exercise in futility.
Price as tested: 13,595
Combined MPG: 43.5
CO2: 150 g/km