£10,750 - £13,455 Price range
51 - 58 MPG
If you’re already familiar with previous generations of the Twingo, you should probably try to forget everything you know. Aside from being a city car with a Renault badge, there’s almost nothing in common.
Sharing a platform with the new Smart ForFour, the Twingo is now a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive car and the novel packaging required to make this work has dramatically changed what the little Renault can offer – but does it actually work?
The last Twingo’s cabin was a bit grim, but the new one is a joy to behold. With contrasting colours and strong design it injects a bit of fun into the experience. You can add a few touches of personalisation too, though base model Expression buyers will be stuck with the adequate white highlights.
Equipment levels are decent throughout though, with DAB digital radio standard on every Twingo, and quality is good if not up to the standards of some more premium offerings.
It’s also exceptionally roomy for the class, with four adults able to take their places with ease – getting in and out is not the contortionist’s feat it can be on such small cars. The optional fabric sunroof compromises headroom quite significantly, so be mindful of your requirements when ticking that box.
The 188-litre boot is not quite up with the class leaders – the engine sits beneath the boot, so the relatively high boot floor compresses the available space. You can improve this by putting the seat backs up to 90 degrees, which isn’t especially comfortable, but there’s around 50 litres of storage in the cabin too by way of pockets and bins. You can also fold the front passenger seat flat and the Twingo will accept loads up to 2.3-metres long in this configuration.
Don’t expect having the engine at the back driving the rear wheels to make the Twingo some sort of snappy-handling drift beast. The reality of it is that it makes precious little difference to how the little Renault moves about, thanks in part to an aggressive stability control program. After all, most people will buy one for its size, not edgy handling!
The first thing most people will notice about the rear-engine configuration is the lighter nose, and steering that isn’t affected by engine torque (the wheel won’t wriggle around as you accelerate hard).
This makes it nice and light around town and, as the steering weights up at speed, reasonably good to throw at corners on the open road. A secondary advantage is a greater amount of steering lock is possible because there’s no nasty mechanical components in the way, so the Twingo has a turning circle of just 8.6 metres. Parking is a breeze.
Ride quality is largely very good, with only minor complaints on badly broken road surfaces. It actually improves somewhat on the motorway too and critics say the Twingo very much feels like a city car that you’d be happy to drive longer distances too. Some reviewers complain that there’s some wind noise at speed, though whether it’s because it’s genuinely noisy or because there’s no engine ahead of you to drown it out is one for discussion.
There are only two options available for the time being, both three-cylinder petrol engines that don’t quite break the litre threshold.
The larger engine is slightly less powerful. It’s a 1.0-litre (well, 999cc) unit offering up 70hp. It is available with a start/stop system on the top Dynamique specification that cuts emissions to 95g/km and returns a fuel economy of 67.3mpg.
Also available only on the Dynamique specification is the more powerful 0.9-litre turbo, with 90hp. This also has a start/stop function, so emissions are 99g/km. It’s the better engine if you intend on making longer journeys and will return the standard 0-60mph sprint in just under 11 seconds for a slightly more exhilarating drive. If you want more, you’ll have to wait for Renaultsport to get hold of a Twingo, though the packaging means three cylinders is the limit.
The Renault Twingo is only offered with one engine, a 1.2 litre producing a mediocre 74bhp. The small engine provides reasonable pace around town but can seem a little overwhelmed at motorway speeds, however it never becomes excessively noisy in the cabin.
The 74bhp engine is willing to work hard and as a result it will haul the Twingo to a not too shabby 0-60mph time of 12 seconds and on to a top speed of 105mph, yet still a return an economical 55.3mpg.
While a four star showing at Euro NCAP is not well-regarded these days, the Twingo’s result and individual scores are pretty much indistinguishable from those of key rivals – notably the Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108.
In fact the Twingo comes with exactly the safety kit you’d expect, shipping with four airbags and electronic stability control as standard. Hill-start assist is also standard, surprisingly. You’d expect a better pedestrian safety score for a car like the Twingo with no engine under the nose, but it only outscores the aforementioned rivals by 5%.
The Twingo’s pricing is a bit above that of its closest rivals, but as a result, entry-level Expression models get DAB digital radio, front electric windows, split folding rear seats, LED daytime running lights, a tyre pressure monitoring system and USB connectivity.
Renault Twingo Play
The Play trim arguably adds what was missing from the basic Expression to make the Twingo ready for city life – it brings air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and black wheel trims.
Renault Twingo Colour Run
New for 2016 is the Twingo Colour Run edition. It features unique body decals and special floor mats that denote its connection to the increasingly popular series of running events held across the UK. It comes as standard with Bluetooth connectivity, a DAB digital radio, two USB charging ports, LED daytime running lights, white interior trim, a folding fabric roof panel, and 15-inch alloy wheels.
Renault Twingo Dynamique
This is the trim level where the little Renault becomes a bit luxurious – it comes with cruise control, front fog lights, stop & start technology, leather-wrapped gear lever and steering wheel plus 15-inch alloy wheels and exterior chrome touches. Dynamique S models add aluminium pedals, part leather red/black upholstery and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Renault Twingo Iconic
The Renault Twingo Iconic sits at the top of the range and brings true upmarket features such as climate control, automatic lights and wipers, but also tinted rear windows, side decals and a DAB, USB and Bluetooth compatible stereo.
It’s an interesting approach to the problem of city cars – but not one that Renault is unfamiliar with. The Twingo benefits from great passenger space and enhanced manoeuvrability in town, while being a far better ownership proposition than its more conventional predecessor.
However, it’s a little on the pricey side at the bottom end of the range and it’s tough to recommend over the Volkswagen family triplets up!, Mii and Citigo. More expensive models make more sense – opening up the more economical engines to you – but at that price it’s encroaching on larger vehicles which offer far more space.
Still, it’s a good little car that drives and rides well. Critics find little to fault, and that suggests you won’t be disappointed with it.