Renault Twingo Driven

Renault’s facelifted Twingo ushers in a new design language for the French firm and makes choosing a frugal, stylish city-car that much harder.

The Life Cycle

Launched in 2010, Renault’s novel design strategy is based on the cycle of a human being’s life. It sounds a little far-fetched, but Renault have been releasing concepts cars, such as the DeZir and Captur, that follow and reflect life’s various stages (for example, falling in love, working or starting a family) since the last Paris Motor Show two years ago.

This new Twingo is the first of chief designer Laurens van den Akker’s cars to feature elements from this design philosophy, and with small dimensions and a boisterous front graphic it’s not hard to figure out what stage of life the Twingo correlates to – youth.

The front graphic has undergone the most marked alterations, with a larger Renault diamond and flamboyant circular sidelights. Headlights that protrude a considerable way into the bonnet panel as well pushing out boldly beyond the body of the car give the front a composed, muscular attitude. If pushed, we’d have to say that the Twingo is the best looking car in its class simply because it wears its aggressive yet idiosyncratic styling so well.

More assertive clues include subtly flared wheel arches that house two-tone ‘Alizar’ alloy wheels that are standard on this ‘Dynamique’ model as well as being aerodynamically optimized, as many wheels are now.

The rear graphic has been substantially altered, too, becoming defragmented with the reverse lights separated from the main cluster. A more rounded rear bumper and softer lines are in contrast to the harder contours of the front.

Unfortunately, the Twingo’s interior isn’t quite as exciting. With the digital instrument binnacle mounted on the centre of the dashboard, the only thing sitting behind the flying saucer of a steering wheel is a solitary rev-counter. It all seems a little confused, and that’s a shame considering that the driving position and abundance of space are excellent.

There are also quite a few large swathes of dull grey plastic, and although the interior feels well built there’s a lack of perceived quality unlike many of the Twingo’s rivals.

Following the success of the endless customizability of cars like the Fiat 500 and Mini, Renault are also offering an extensive list of options that ranges from colour surrounds for the instrument binnacle to twenty-four different alloy wheel trim options. Given the decidedly drab ambiance of this particular car’s interior, we’d like to see a fully customized Twingo (you can configure your Twingo on Renault’s UK website). This example is painted Fuschia, a new colour unique to the Twingo, although other fresh colours include Bermuda Blue and Sirius Yellow.

Interior Design Director Antoine Génin has indicated that this push for increased personalisation possibilities is something that will be rolled out across other Renault models.

Considered but bold revisions have brought the Twingo back into the supermini fold, and with competition from a revitalized Toyota Yaris Hybrid and the fantastically well-resolved Fiat Panda, the timing couldn’t have been better.

City-centric supermini

In this class it’s hard to look past Fiat’s aforementioned Panda. The Twingo, however, shares many of its pleasing characteristics.

A slightly higher than normal driving position and unusually large daylight openings endow the Twingo with superb visibility. Combine that with a narrow waist and the Twingo is an easy and relatively relaxing proposition in congested city-centres. Fuel consumption is also extremely impressive in urban areas, where we managed over 45mpg. Motorway cruising returned over 55mpg.

Where the Twingo loses out is the power delivery of its 1.2-litre petrol engine. It’s extremely frugal but needs to be worked moderately hard to make good progress. Compare this to effortless torque inherent in the Fiat’s two-cylinder TwinAir engine and it’s hard not to favour the pint-sized powerplant. The Twingo’s four-cylinder engine also emits 119g/km CO2, which whilst commendable is no longer top of a class in which most cars emit less than 100g/km.

The Twingo’s low kerb weight of 950kg gives it more than a little agility, and although there’s a fair amount of body roll due to the soft suspension the car stays true to the driver’s commands and the reward is a fun drive. There is, however, only 75bhp to play with.

The Twingo deserves consideration purely on it’s individual aesthetic and the driving experience it offers. Emissions are probably not as low as they could be, but decent economy and ‘small on the outside, big on the inside’ dimensions make this one-model range competitive.

Twingo 1.2 LEV 16V 75

Power: 75bhp @ 5500 Torque: 79lb ft @ 4250 0-62mph: 12.3s Top speed: 105mph Weight: 950kg CO2 emissions: 199g/km Economy: 55.4mpg Price: £10,350

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