Small is beautiful, goes the saying. And again this proved to be so very when we sat behind the wheel of the new Renault Twingo. Indeed, the car is built by Renault in Slovenia, and enters also life as the new Smart forfour. This car is the result of clever cooperation between two reputed car makers, Renault and Daimler, who put their state of the art knowledge and craftmanship together to build an impressive compact four seater which wins your car loving hearts...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Stepping into the car one enters the joyous world of clever urban smartness, with instrumentation and cabin details like vent openings very reminiscent of the styling language we find back in the cabin of the original Smart fortwo.
Indeed, the Twingo goes also through life as a Smart forfour. Finish is impeccable, everything is very well at hand.
We also liked the pleasant infotainment, with a neat Smartphone holder which lets you enjoy your coveted phone to the full when on the move. One just has to download the app R & Go, and you can enjoy navigation, eco driving assistant, multimedia and address book, amongst others...
Starting the Twingo reveals a nice, three cylinder throb which we like so much, a sound which gives character to the car. The unit is well balanced and expertly mounted, so no vibrations whatsoever are transmitted to the cabin.
This is the beauty of a rear engined car: it insulates the cabin more often than not from vibrations and excessive noise, and we enjoyed this to the full. Driving the car with verve and at speed, our thoughts went to the late Denis Jenkinson, co-driver of Stirling Moss in the famous Mille Miglia race with the Mercedes 300 SLR, who had a 60 HP Porsche 365 as his private car.
He loved to travel fast and far in his Porsche, driving it from one F1 Grand Prix circuit to the other, as a reporter of The Motor. He too enjoyed his rear-engined boxer Porsche, its vibrationless typical throb, the way one could drive at speed hours on end. His Porsche had virtually the same power to weight ratio as the 70 HP Twingo, and as much as he was delighted about the brisk performance of his Porsche, we were very pleased with the liveliness of the Twingo.
Can one have driving pleasure with 70 HP? You bet, as it is never the sheer performance, but far more the way this performance is deployed which makes the heart of a true driver beat faster.
The engine of the Twingo revs freely, is very responsive, the gearbox is a delight to use, the clutch is progressive and smooth. So there you go!
In practice, the Twingo will accelerate from 0 to 100 in around 15 seconds and top speed is a good 150 km/h. CO2 emissions are very good with only 95 g/km. consumption is very good of course, the manufacturer quotes 4,2 litres/100 km. We obtained a very good 4,5 litres during our test, witch had its fair amount of winter and town driving.
Well balanced suspension
The vast experience of both Renault and Daimer really tells when one looks at the chassis and suspension. The Twingo has struck an almost ideal balance between comfort and predictable, agile, surefooted handling.
This means that the car feels very well at home on motorways, were it delivers true long distance Gran Turismo comfort, as well as on winding roads, where the precise steering and neutral handling are a delight. The car is set up with permanent understeer, and when one enters any corner with too much verve, the ESP will set in and slow the Twingo down accordingly.
The rear engined Twingo is now rather sensitive to strong crosswinds, as we experienced during our wintery test, but this is never excessive.
Of course, urban streets and boulevards are true habitat of the Twingo, where its well sprung suspension will swallow potholes and ridges and the direct, very light power steering will allow you to manouvre the Twingo into the narrowest streets and corners. The very tight turning circle also helps here. It is merely 8,6 meters!
The Twingo is quite practical, with lots of stowage space in the interior, foldable back seat rests and a reasonable luggage space in the back, which of course is not cavernous with 188 litres.
The Twingo surprised us agreeably with its refinement, character, excellent comfort, urban nimblenness, impeccable finish and build quality. It holds very well its own on the open road and motorway, making it a truly all round compact car, which, with its pleasant personality, styling and cabin 'ambiente' will win many hearts, young and old...
Of course the Twingo story is far from over. In 2015, a six speed automatic transmission will be available, and ther is also a Twingo with the 90 Hp Renault three cylinder engine. We certainly look forward to drive these versions soon...
Hans Knol ten Bensel