★★★★ | Renault Twingo
It’s always a problem when you give a name to a car on review. It becomes personal and trying to be subjective about it is wholly difficult. Its flaws covered up with candy floss and its better bits celebrated with raptures of delight.
If I lived in Toy Town I would drive a Twingo. In fact Noddy would have one too. In its third incarnation Renault have returned to a layout last seen in 1971 with their rear engined rear drive 8 and 10 models. This car shares a platform with Smarts For4. It’s just been dressed in prettier clothing.
Turn the key and the engine giggles into life. Now I know that makes it sound like I have lost the plot somewhat and to be fair I have with this little Renault. It’s such an easy car to love.
‘Giggles’ as he became known arrived to me with bright red paint, go faster stripes and pretty polished alloy wheels. The stripes and wheels themselves were reminiscent to those offered by Renault in the 1970’s boutique range of accessories. This car possessed some nice retro touches. The rear was very pretty. The front however had the face only a mother could love. The problem is with the daytime running lights that look like he’s had his top lip pierced twice! You’ll soon grow to accept this.
While I had the Twingo with me I had a party so parked him in the back garden. There were some picky queens whose car delights ranged from all things Citroen, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. With alcohol flowing the Twingo was subjected to a clinic style review. It was thumbs up on a lot of things. Your friends would approve but choose wisely. Despite the being able to accommodate well within the space available, the Twingo is a strict 4 seater.
Inside was a pleasant change from austere black that is so the norm these days. The Twingo had the options list ticked and came with the red and white plastic inserts on the doors and contrasting red stitching on the seats. The white plastic will get grubby. You can’t deny that so getting the bucket out on a Sunday for a wash and wipe won’t become a bore because you’ll love the little Twingo. Despite living in the sticks I have never once washed a car I had to return but I just couldn’t return ‘Giggles’ to Renault covered in dirt.
It was easy to get into a suitable driving position. The high backed seats took a bit of time to get used too but after a day or two it all felt quite normal. What wasn’t was the position of the window switches. No matter how short or tall you are they are always about 4 inches too far back. Thankfully the ventilation system is up to the job. The pop out windows in the rear doors working well in promoting greater ventilation with minimal wind noise.
The driving experience of the Twingo is unique. It’s not how you would imagine it to be. A rear engined rear drive layout it might have but thoughts of a tail happy little car are not what you get. The stability program is always on and will always get you out of trouble even if you provoke it wildly with enthusiastic movements. What you will prefer though is to drive it in its manual mode. The auto box will still change up and down but it will do so at a higher rev and for this increase in enthusiasm you won’t pay dearly at the pumps. Chances are you won’t notice a difference at all.
The auto gear box does however have a few niggles. In traffic it can become a bit snappy if you are heavy with the right foot. At parking speeds it just won’t engage without a little throttle. Several times I “that’ll do” parked it instead of risking ploughing into the car in front. Strangely enough though is that it works better in reverse. Thankfully the turning circle is small so backing into a space is easier. I went out to find small spaces just to drive round and round. It had me laughing.
Now for the science part. The 898cc engine will make your mother happy. She’ll be happy you don’t have one of those big engined fast cars. What you don’t need to tell her is the little turbo attached to it propels the Twingo at quite a rate in forward motion. It will startle you at just how nippy this little car is. As is typical with a rear weight bias layout though is susceptibility to side winds. It can get buffeted about a bit. This was noticeable at those great speeds it could travel at. Kept within 70mph and it wasn’t such a problem.
Living with the Twingo is easy. There are cubby holes where you wouldn’t expect them to be and that high rear boot floor that hides the engine is perfect height for loading. It also turns out it is also the perfect height as a seat. The insulation over the engine so epic in its padding that it makes for a cushiony soft seat to sit on and ponder life. It’s also good at not allowing heat into the boot so your picnic and your chilled prosecco won’t be ruined.
One innovative trick Renault have missed out on is the centre consoles removable cubby box. Add a snap-on strap and you get yourself a swishy Twingo bag for your oddments while also having a handy place for it to go when on the move.
What did annoy me the most was getting to the service items. The bonnet pulls forward to reveal the brake fluid, screen wash, coolant and battery. It’s a bit of a faff and all items are accessed by leaning over the bonnet. Chances are the coolant will never get checked and the screen wash will always be empty. Normal bonnet hinges would correct this and probably allow for some extra storage up front. Like wise to check the oil you need to go through the boot floor. Removing the floor isn’t as easy as it could be and makes it a bit of a chore.
Since its launch I had always wanted to test a Twingo and l am glad I did. As a run around this car gets my thumbs up. It also gets the sides of my mouth up too. l can’t stop giggling.
Fun to drive
Auto box jerky
Poor access to service items
Window switch posistion
Car – Renault Twingo Dynamique TCe
Price – £ £13,900 (as tested)
MPG – 58.9mpg (combined)
Power – 90 bhp 6000 rpm
Top Speed – 104 mph
Co2 – 108 (g/km)