Renault is preparing to build the most interesting city car we’ve seen in a long time, and certainly the most PH-worthy
Rear-engined, rear-drive Twingo inspires mischief
The new Twingo, due later next year, will be rear-engined, rear-driven and powered by a three-cylinder turbo engine designed in consultation with Ford, makers of the excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo.
That latter fact was confirmed to us a couple of weeks ago by Mercedes parent Daimler, who is partnering with Renault on the Twingo and creating two Smart versions of the same car.
The rear-engined, rear-drive layout has long been rumoured, but was officially announced to PistonHeads by designer Laurens van den Acker at the launch of the Twingo concept car last week in Monaco.
“The new rear-engined layout gave us opportunity to reinvent the small car,” he told us.
Renault is serious about the fun element of the production Twingo, and to prove it the Twin’Run was a fully functioning rally car built from a mid-engined Megane Trophy platform complete with that car’s 3.5-litre V6. Renault boss Carlos Tavares proved its mettle with three noisy laps of the Monaco GP track hotly pursued by famed French rally ace Jean Ragnotti in a Renault 5 Turbo.
Production car may differ from this concept...
We couldn’t get Tavares to say whether he’d actually build a production mid-engined Twingo and pass on the mental mantle from the Clio V6, but he did say he could “imagine” an RS version.
As for how the new Twingo will look, Tavares said the production car will be “50 to 70 per cent” of the Twin’Run car. The weight saving glass hatch will remain, but probably not the bumper-mounted exhausts.
In the flesh the concept looked a squarer, beefier mutation of the Fiat 500 and Renault is very aware of the debt to the phenomenally successful Italian in this sector. “Frankly if the car has half the appeal of the 500 I’d be quite happy,” van den Acker told journalists. Such comparisons are inevitable in the job, he reckons: “The Dezir [sports concept] was an R8, the Clio was a Seat Ibizia. But once the cars are seen side by side they gain their own life.”
It could even be argued the Twingo is far more the spiritual successor of the original 500 because the engine is the right place…
Glass hatch nods to classic Renault 5 Turbo
Despite the Twingo’s upcoming switch from cheap utility to town toy, one difference will be a move from two doors to four (or five with the hatch). This is a first in the three generation of Twingos and won’t be welcomed by all, of course (shades of the
If you’re not sold on it, there’s always the Renaultsport 133 version of the current Twingo, which is now as cheap as £4,495 for this Cup-specced 2008 car with 61,000 miles.
The UK never officially imported the strangely appealing original Twingo, but Francophiles with a yearning for the monobox Mk1 could plonk down £2,000 on this left-hand drive car. Market stall not included.