Renault Twingo Review

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Renault Twingo Tested December 2007

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Rating

3 stars

Quick Summary

Average. You'd have to like the looks an awful lot to put up with the poor ride and disappointing interior.

Road Test

The Twingo has always been the baby of the Renault family, and you don't have to stray far across the Channel to spot an abundance of them. The only ones in this country were a few left-hookers of the previous version, followed by a surprisingly sparse number of the current right-hand-drive generation.

Renault has been advertising it on the basis of its funky character, as a slightly panicky response to the fact that, RenaultSport apart, it is one of the duller city cars to look at.

Basic versions offer moderate performance with the 75 bhp engine, but Renault is pushing the 100 bhp 1.2 litre hard in the UK. The turbocharged TCE engine - also featured in the Clio and Modus - packs more than enough grunt for such a small car; 0-62mph is reached in a not-too-shabby 9.8 seconds, and it will go on to a top speed of 117mph. It's relatively cheap to run too, averaging almost 50 mpg with CO2 emissions of under 140g/km, placing it nicely in road tax band C. However, the throttle pedal is very light in the Twingo and can be a little over-sensitive. The result is being thrown back in your seat as it accelerates or hurled forward as you take your foot off to slow down - achieving a gentle get-away certainly requires practice. It doesn't make a great motorway companion either; it would benefit from a sixth gear as it revs highly and is very noisy at cruising speeds. There is a fair bit of road noise too, but this is nothing the radio can't mask.

Thanks to the car's fairly low centre of gravity and stiff suspension, it handles a bit like a large go-kart but this has massively compromised the ride quality. It bounces around over less-than-smooth road surfaces, which is in part due to the short wheelbase - the front suspension barely has time to recover from a bump, before the rear hits the same bump.

If you were expecting a funky cabin to make up for the exterior then you'll be disappointed. The grey dash and centre console is dull and the rev counter looks like a budget afterthought; stuck onto the steering wheel column. The materials are plastic and flimsy and it lacks any individuality; much of the unit looks to have been taken straight from other Renault models. The seats are comfortable enough - although the driving position is a little high - and the cabin is much roomier than you might expect. Surprisingly, it can seat four adults, thanks to adjustable rear seats which slide back and forwards by up to 10cm. However, once slid all the way back, they take up the majority of the boot space so you may have to choose between your friends and your luggage.

With prices starting at close to £8,000, the Twingo is usefully cheaper than a Fiat 500. Whether it is also better value than the 500 is a more difficult question.

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