Twingo Twingo little star

It’s difficult not to have an affinity for Renault’s Twingo. The original slightly wedged shaped, bug-eyed, left-hand-drive-only version was rarely seen this side of the channel and as such was something you used to associate with European travel.

Next came the Mark II Clio based car of 2007. Significantly stronger and all together more attractive, if paradoxically, less distinctive than the car it replaced, the second generation Twingo not only became available with the steering wheel on the correct side but is also gave rise to the near rigidly suspended, franticly fast and thoroughly entertaining Renaultsport 133. I once scared myself,and a particularly important passenger, half to death in one of those – but that’s a completely different story.

Since then both I and the Twingo have matured a little. So much so that Renault decided late last year that it was time to give their little runabout a facelift. The Twingo now sports new rear light clusters and a completely new nose. Gone are the cutesy toy-town looks that defined the previous car. Instead the latest Twingo has been treated to a blacked-out grille, some prominent oversized badging and not one, but two sets of lights. The combined fog-lamp and indicator units have helped to not only give the Twingo its own “face”, but also contributed, together with some funky new colours, to a much more modern and dare I say it, chic appearance.

Mechanically things have remained the same. There’s only one choice of engine to accompany those external revisions: All 1,149cc, 16valves and 74bhp of it! But let’s not be too unfair. It might not get you anywhere particularly quickly, and it has to be said, it does make a bit of din when it’s worked hard, but the upsides are a combined MPG of 55, a punchy eagerness around town, and it feeling that it’s happy to cruise at the legal limit all day long.  The steering is light, if a little lacking in feedback, the gear-change is smooth and accurate, and the Twingo’s tiny size and excellent all-round visibility means it’s a doddle to thread through traffic.

Once out in the open the ride is pretty good. Poorer surfaces do mean things suffer a little bit and there’s a fair amount of body roll through the twisty bits too. But ultimately long distances are not what this car was built for; in the city car it works just fine.

Swing open one of the Twingo’s long doors and it soon becomes apparent that Renault may have given the outside a fresh new look but inside things remains the same. Swathes of hard and un-forgiving looking, grey plastics cover everything from the doors to the dashboard. A single centrally mounted pod houses a cheap looking combined digital speedo and fuel gauge, and…. Well that’s about it. You do get a CD player with MP3 connectivity and individual rear seats that slide fore and aft to increase either boot space or rear passenger room. Plus there’s driver and passenger side airbags that help give a 4 star Euro Ncap star rating and Bluetooth too; you’ll have to turn the steering wheel to the left to find the controls though, there are completely obscured by its spokes. Comfort wise it’s not bad but calling the Twingo’s interior plush is stretching the imagination a little too far.

Thanks to its facelift the Twingo, on the surface at least, now looks better than ever. And a four year, 100,000 mile warranty makes it pretty appealing too. However more modern city car offerings from the likes of VW, Skoda, and SEAT offer better packaging,  more technology, and smoother, cleaner engines, meaning that sadly the Twingo is beginning to feel its age.

For little more than £10,000 you could take a Twingo home. If you do though, you’ll always have that nagging feeling you that could spent your future with a younger model instead.

Renaultsport Twingo 1.2 Dynamique

Engine: 1,149cc 4cylinder, 16Valve
Transmission: 5 speed manual, front wheel drive.
Power: 74 bhp @5500rpm
Torque: 79lb ft @4250rpm
0-62MPH: 12.3 Sec
Max Speed: 105mph
MPG: 55.4 (combined)
CO2: 119g/km
Price: from £10,350 (car driven £11,485)

Many thanks Renault’s UK Press Office for the loan of their Twingo.

www.liam-bird.com

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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