Road Tests

Archive

Wednesday 11th September 2013


K-TEC RENAULT TWINGO 163: DRIVEN

Can K-Tec's tweaks to the baby Renaultsport turn it into a Clio beater?


It was with hope rather than expectation that we concluded our K-Tec Twingo 163 news story with: 'Still ... if a 163 is available, we would really, really like to try one!'

K-Tec car (white) based on pre-facelift Twingo
K-Tec car (white) based on pre-facelift Twingo
But, one very kind invitation later, we found ourselves at K-Tec's Dorset HQ with its 163 development car plus a standard 133 for comparison. Fun was guaranteed.

As a quick refresher, K-Tec's package comprises a new exhaust and manifold, a Cat Cams Stage 1 cam plus an ECU remap. It takes the Twingo from 133hp to 165hp (163bhp) and torque from 118lb ft to 142lb ft.

Starting out in the regular 133 reveals an eager, effervescent little car with an engine that's quite literally screaming for some extra power. Power comes in late and not particularly hard, but you can't help but smile thrashing a 133.

Old-school tuning
Hopping straight across to K-Tec's car, the change is marked. The most striking aspect initially is the noise; the 2.5-inch exhaust exits with a 3.5-inch tailpipe that lets out a right din, even with little throttle. But it's the right sort of noise; mean and purposeful, with a little bit of lumpiness at idle added by the new cam.

B-roads and a Renaultsport is a great combo
B-roads and a Renaultsport is a great combo
It goads you into pushing the 163 from the off, which is still required to enjoy the Twingo. Below about 3,500rpm it feels marginally stronger, giving some additional confidence in higher gears around town. Above that threshold the 163 delivers a much more pronounced kick, with that extra torque noticeable when it peaks at 4,250rpm.

Moreover, with maximum power now at 'just over 7,000rpm' rather than 6,750, there's every incentive to rev the Twingo for all it's worth. With that booming soundtrack, it's a right hoot and subjectively feels a decent chunk faster than standard.

Gapping it
But it was comparing the two Twingos back-to-back that proved truly revealing. With one of K-Tec's guys in the 163, trying to keep up in the standard Twingo was, erm, challenging. There's a noticeable if not huge gap along the straights but it's when exiting corners that the 133 really loses out. The tweaked car just pulls through the gears from lower revs with so much more conviction.

This won't be happening in the real world...
This won't be happening in the real world...
Put simply, the K-Tec upgrades fully exploit the latent thrills contained in the 133. However, even having driven it, there remain one or two caveats...

The first is the cost. Tweaking normally aspirated engines isn't cheap, as reflected in the £2,625.60 K-Tec asks for the full 163 package. The exhaust and manifold would be great at £1,186.80 fitted, but the of course the extra power of the cam is omitted. Just five Twingo 133s are available on the PH classifieds right now; taking the cheapest of these (£4,800) then adding the 163 package gives an overall cost of £7,425.60. It would undoubtedly be great fun for the money, but then there's another fast Renault available for a similar amount...

When Clio 200s such as this one are available for £7,400, the case for the K-Tec Twingo is harder to make. But K-Tec's tweaks make a riotous little hatch even more fun and, if you don't want to follow the crowd, it's a fantastic alternative. There's a turbocharged version coming also to really frighten Clios also...


K-TEC RENAULTSPORT TWINGO 163
Engine:
1,598cc four-cylinder
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Power (hp): 165hp@'over 7,000rpm' (133@6,750rpm)
Torque (lb ft): 142lb ft@4,250rpm (118@4,400rpm)
0-62mph: 7.7 sec (8.7 sec)
Top speed: 'Over 125mph' (125mph)
Weight: 1,050kg
MPG: N/A (43.5)
CO2: N/A (150g/km)
Price: See text (£13,955)

(Figures in brackets for standard Twingo 133 for comparison)









Photos: PrimeExposures

Author: Matt Bird