Twenty years ago, Renault launched the Twingo. If that sounds unusual to you, you’re probably unaware that the original Twingo was never officially sold in the UK, only in Europe as a left-hand drive model.
The 1993 Twingo was incredibly clever in its day. Smaller than a contemporary Clio, it offered the interior volume of a much larger car thanks to a stubby one-box shape and a rear passenger bench that slid fore and aft depending on passenger and luggage needs.
The second-generation car launched in 2007 was much less clever, but at least UK customers got to enjoy it too. They also got to enjoy the Renaultsport 133, a sporty model denied to the earlier budget-biased Twingos.
And now there’s the Twin’Z concept.
As the name suggests it isn’t yet a production car, but it’s the clearest indication yet of what a future Twingo could look like. And the best news is, it’s as original in its own way of those Twingos from two decades ago.
It starts with a funky look from Renault’s design chief Laurens van den Acker and British designer Ross Lovegrove. Wheels are pushed out to the four corners and the profile has something of the Fiat 500 about it – albeit with an extra pair of doors.
Squint a bit harder though and you can see another influence – the old Renault 5. Notice the angled front and rear, and the squared-off proportions? The oblong front lights? The shape, if not the detailing on the tailgate? All remind us of Renault’s classic supermini.
Not that the similarities go much further, as the Twin’Z is every bit a product of the 21st century.
Those rear doors clap hands with the front ones for a start. Like the Ford B-Max, the Twin’Z features a pillarless cabin with rear doors that open ‘suicide style’, hinged at the back. The 18-inch wheels and tyres are designed “as a single entity”, and look frankly bonkers – reminiscient of the patterns generated by those Spirograph sets you used to play with as a kid.
An enchanting shade of satin blue covers exterior surfaces, but extends to the Twin’Z’s innards. The link between outside and in continues with a pattern of lights arcing over the car’s roof and scattering down the tailgate where they meet the similarly-styled rear lights.
The scattered lighting details join loops of LED light on interior surfaces, in a cabin which looks impossibly minimalist by today’s standards.
A regular dashboard makes way for a single tablet with touchscreen display, allowing drivers to access all the car’s controls through one interface.
Items as old-fashioned as a steering wheel and seats remain, but appear like seamless extensions out of their respective interior surfaces.
The futuristic technology doesn’t stop there. Unlike Twingo production models – at least initially – the Twin’Z uses electric propulsion, with a 68-horsepower motor, an 81 mph top speed and a 100-mile range.
The motor sits at the rear and powers the rear wheels – confirming Renault’s recent deal with Smart, which will see both Twingo and next-generation Smart Fortwo spawn from the same platform.
A concept car it may be, but some of the Twin’Z’s technology isn’t outside the realms of possibility for the next-generation Twingo. The basic shape is likely to remain similar, even if the beautiful smattering of lights will forever remain a concept car touch. A rear-engined layout is almost a dead-cert for production and even electric drive is a possibility, given Renault’s recent inclination towards electric vehicles.
Overall, it has us rather looking forward to the next Reanault Twingo – it could be the most inventive small car in years.
For more information check out our full summary of the Renault Twingo alongside reviews, stats, photos and videos!