Can the Renault Twingo compete with the cream of the city car crop?
The brand new Renault Twingo is good-looking and impressively packaged little auto. Its rear-engined chassis means its compact outside yet ample and practical inside. On the whole it's good to drive -- comfy and manoeuvrable -- but it's lacking the fun factor of the finest this group has to offer. Once in a while a car comes along that dares to do things a little differently- and the new Renault Twingo is one such car. Unlike its rather predictable and uninspiring predecessor, the rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive starter is promising to shake up the city car market. That's easier said than done, though, as the Twingo is going to need to take on the mightily impressive Skoda Citigo and extremely capable Hyundai i10.
Thankfully, the Twingo gets off to a good start. While it may share its chassis together with the approaching Smart ForFour, the unique outdoor design oozes with Gallic chic - it surely managed to turn heads on our test drive in western France.
Personalisation choices are all geared towards the trend conscious and so needless to say you'll be able to mix and match various outside and interior schemes. What is more, to help out Renault has handily put together six pre-chosen mixtures which it believes operate well together. And at 200 a pop they're quite reasonably priced. Our range-topping Dynamique TCe evaluation car for example, which begins at 11,695 and includes 15-inch alloys, body coloured door mirrors and fog lamps as standard, was graced with the 'Retro Racer' styling pack. This combines vibrant yellow paint with sporty black decals - though how long these stickers will appear neat and tidy after several years' worth of road grime and sunlight have taken their cost is anther matter. The great news is that the interior looks more hard wearing. And despite the contrasting finishes and fancy design, Renault has not tried to do anything too smart with the layout of the controls or driving instruments: everything is very straightforward, intuitive and easy to use.
Our car was fitted together with the tablet-style R-Link infotainment system including a seven-inch touchscreen, voice control, 3D surround sound, rear parking camera and TomTom navigation. (Edmunds.com)In addition, it enables you to download programs from the R-Link store, for example email, Facebook and Twitter. It's possible for you to view pictures and videos on the screen while the vehicle is still, also. It's only on the range-topping Dynamique auto and is a 600 choice. For most buyers this will be an excessive extravagance as the regular R & GO set up lets you connect your phone to the vehicle via Bluetooth and run CoPilot Navigation along with other applications for the Twingo through your handset anyway. On paper its 188-litre boot trails all of its main competitors - even the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 have slightly more space, at 196 litres. But really their boots are nowhere near as useable. Renault has mounted the Twingo's engine, which in the instance of our auto is a three-cylinder 900cc turbo, at an angle to help keep it as low as you can to make the most effective usage of space. And with the boot floor the same height as the load lip it's easy to slide items in and from the car. You can lock in the rear seats in an upright position to improve available space to 219 litres, though it won't be quite comfy for those travelling in the back and it is still way off the VW upwards!'s 251-litre boot.
Fold the rear seats down level though and the Twingo's taller body means total volume of 980 litres, which is second only to the Hyundai i10. But, the Renault trumps the Korean in a different manner - it's the only car in its class that has a fold down front passenger seat and that means it is possible to carry items of up to 2.3 meters in length inside the car - perfect if you need to carry flat pack furniture. There's also a raft of interior storage spaces scattered around the place too - including storage underneath the rear seats, though bizarrely you simply get rear door pockets using the main Dynamique trim. However, the overall rear-engine set up means that despite being 100mm shorter in relation to the old Twingo, in the cottage the newest model is 220mm longer. This benefits rear legroom, which Renault says is greatest in category. Headroom is great, too. * Finest small autos to purchase now All models get electric windows and just the entry Expression trim does without air-con and height adjustment on the driver's seat. You actually sit fairly saturated in the Twingo compared to its rivals and this really helps the visibility. This really is perfect for manoeuvring in and out of tight parking spaces, as is the class-leading turning circle of just 8.59m. Once again it is possible to thank the back-engined set up for that as it allows the front wheels to turn through 45 degrees. The range topping Turbo model we are driving additionally adds to this changeable speed steering system which allows you turn the wheel totally from left to right in half a turn less than the lesser versions. This varying stand was created to produce the car very manoeuvrable in tight turns yet stable a speeds. And on the motorway the small Twingo can hold its own - notably using the punchy three-cylinder 89bhp turbo petrol engine. It includes stop begin technology and yields an impressive 66mpg and emits only 99g/km of CO2. Moto Guzzi Motorcycles Still it really isn't quite as great to use as Ford's 1.0-litre EcoBoost as there's a little bit of lag when you first pull away and it gets quite noisy when you rev it outside.
Thankfully, when cruising at speed it quietens down and there is enough mid-range force to power up hills and overtake. The sole thing spoiling the experience is there is quite a bit of wind noise from the A-pillars. Despite this, to get a city car, the Twingo is fairly good over long distances as the seats are comfy along with the suspensor supple enough to deal with jolts. Probably the only thing that actually lets the Twingo down is that it's not quite as memorable to drive as you had hope. Yes it may have a rear-engine rear drive set up like a Porsche 911, but do not go believing this makes it in anyway sporty because this small Renault lacks the fun element of a VW up! or a Hyundai i10. It's not excited, darty or as grippy as either rival. Toyota Corolla Classifieds Get a little too enthused on an open road and the front wheels soon begin to wash broad. The high seating position nor that slightly abnormal variable speed steering do not help as they make you feel less connected to the road. Obviously a city car's primary goal is for getting you around town as cheaply as you can, along with the Twingo does this in quite some style. Nevertheless, the best in this course do all that while placing a grin on your own face. Plus it's this essential missing component which means that while the Twingo is an excellent car, it is not quite the genuinely great car we all hoped it would be.