Renault Twingo: Twinstop or Twingo?

Those of us that wish to drive a rear engined, rear wheel drive car would probably not consider a Renault straight away, a Renault City car even less so. Yet here we are in 2016 contemplating this very eventuality whilst directly in front of MotorMartin, quietly pinging gently to itself as the engine cools, is exactly that. A rear engined, rear wheel drive Renault Twingo. Amazing. What is perhaps more incredible, is that Renault are able to offer this car from only £9,495. Did someone mention value for money?

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In part 1, Renault Twingo: French Fancy http://motormartin.com/2016/01/18/renault-twingo-french-fancy/ the history of Renault and its place in the grand motoring time line was touched upon as MotorMartin used the opportunity to highlight the technology and achievements of Renault and certain milestones reached. Indeed the recent history of Renault is just as fascinating to anyone with an interest in cars and the social history of the country of manufacture.

Reading through Renault’s excellent website gives the opportunity to examine where Renault have come from so that we can understand where they are going next. https://www.renault.co.uk/discover-renault/renault-globally.html In 1980, Renault was Europe’s leading vehicle manufacture and yet by 1986, the company was facing bankruptcy. To counter this, President Georges Besse introduced a policy of simplicity and diversification in the hope that Renault’s finances could be rapidly turned around. The change in policy worked as by 1987, Renault was once again back in the black with profits of FF 3.7 billion. A not inconsiderable sum I think we’d all agree.

The strong upward turn in Renault’s fortunes continued into 1989 with profits posted of almost FF 9 billion and much to the pleasure of Motorsport fans the world over, they made a return to F1.

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A return that by 1997 would allow Renault to capture six consecutive F1 World Championship titles. Amongst all of this, the boffins at Renault still managed to design and manufacture not just the original Twingo but also the Mégane and Laguna. By 1999, Renault had signed an Alliance with Nissan and taken over Romania’s Dacia and it’s this second meeting of minds that particularly excites MotorMartin. I’ve been keeping a close on the Dacia brand since they started to make an impact on British roads with the Duster, Sandero, Sandero Stepway and, to a lesser extent, the Logan MCV as they would appear to follow the same ‘real life’ values as MotorMartin. In 2003 The Renault-Nissan alliance had become the world’s fourth largest vehicle manufacturer. Fast forward to 2008 and it’s Renault’s desire to promote a sustainable power source for its vehicles which ultimately leads us to full production of the Zoe and Twizy via the outrageous Renault Dezir Concept car of 2010 as shown below. And is it just MotorMartin that can see hints of the Dezir in the rear styling of the current Twingo on test?

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There is, of course, much more that could be said about Renault’s recent history but that would be labouring the point. Suffice to say that, for a large, volume manufacturer, Renault has a habit of pushing the boundaries of innovation, style and practicality and that alone makes it an addictive brand for its customers.

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So back to the Twingo then. As we have already touched upon, the commitment to providing the constomer with a quality product at a sensible price would appear to have been achieved. Yet motor vehicles are funny old things, they can appear to tick all the boxes but it’s the emotional attachment that needs to be present if a car is to rise above the competition and stand out. For MotorMartin’s thoughts on the styling and interior fit and finish of the Twingo’s follow the link to part 1 at the beginning of this article as we start today with a look at the technology behind the engine nestled deep within the rear of the car.

Renault tell us in their literature that the Twingo’s TCe90 petrol engine is built for you, the customer. Before continuing to say that the turbocharger and 5-speed manual gearbox have been designed to deliver crisp pick-up and acceleration. They are also proud of the fact that when out of town, the ENERGY TCe 90 turbo petrol engine is most at home with its 90 hp and 135 Nm of torque which provides brisk starts and nippy acceleration. With standard Stop & Start, driving should be fun and economical. So is it?

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Easing out into Bradford’s legendary, easy going traffic, it immediately becomes apparent that the higher than normal seating position allows for excellent all round visibility and gives you a slight advantage when it comes to assessing gaps and oncoming hazards. First point to the Twingo then.

A light clutch and steering make it easy to use the inbuilt manoeuvrability of the Renault when heading off into traffic, see a gap, press the throttle and you’re there. Immediate, safe and with style. Within the first few minutes of setting off, it becomes apparent that driving in town is going to be a fun experience. The car is small, compact and agile in feel and at just 3.59m long, with a record turning circle of 4.3m is able to take advantage of any indecision from those around you. Heading off down Manchester Road at a steady 30mph MotorMartin soon reaches the first, but certainly not the last, red light of the drive and it’s here that the first clear evidence of Renault’s design direction with the Twingo as the Stop & Start technology kicks in, killing the engine once the car’s put into neutral. Renault say that with Stop & Start it’s easy to consume less fuel, produce fewer emissions and even make less noise! Whilst considering how to restart the engine once the lights returned to green the Twingo started again automatically when letting out the clutch. To cope with the extra stress placed onto the car, Renault’s attention to detail has meant that the starter-motor and injection system have been enhanced. Good thinking and a second point to Renault.

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There are two engines available for the Twingo, the ENERGY TCe 90 turbo petrol as tested or the less powerful but equally frugal Sce70 engine with 70 hp, fuel consumption of up to 67.2mpg and 95g of CO2/km. Once past the old Bradford Odeon building and after MotorMartin’s customary glance up at its new copper domes, the road starts to climb gently as you head out of the town centre and towards the Manningham area of Bradford and it’s in this urban environment that you really begin to bond with the Twingo. Whilst sitting bumper to bumper with other road users it’s difficult to feel what a great job Renault have made with this engine as it just does the job that you want and expect it to do. No fuss, no frills, just put your foot down, click through the positive gearbox and you just go. It’s when the traffic thins and the road opens up in front of you that the Renault shows you its party trick. Putting your foot down with the speedo showing around 30 mph and there’s a distinctive shove as the turbo spins up freely and the speed rises far quicker than you would expect it to. Indeed it becomes rather addictive to spin the turbo up and revel in the acceleration that the Twingo has to offer whenever it is safe to do so.

Rear, engined, rear wheel drive and a turbocharged engine and all of this with the practicality of a City Car. Blimey. Clearly we are not talking sports car levels of acceleration and yet this ENERGY TCe 90 turbo petrol engine certainly punches above its weight. If you’re not in the mood and want to get from A to B via C,D and F as economically as possible then this little gem of an engine can do that as well. Treat the throttle gently and maintain momentum throughout your journey and you’ll be rewarded with close to Renault’s claimed 65.7 mpg and the satisfaction of a job well done. Third point gained.

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One of the many joys of driving in and around our towns and cities is the consistently awful state of our roads. In the Twingo this is not a problem as potholes are easily avoided with a quick spin of the steering as the Renault’s amazingly tight turning circle comes in to play, making the commute to work and back more fun than it really should be. Quality of ride is more than acceptable and easily comparable with other cars in the same class and, as with most vehicles these days, journeying further afield will present the driver with no real issues to worry about. If MotorMartin were being over critical you might say that this Twingo could and maybe should, offer the driver and passengers an experience that truly differentiates the Renault from its rivals but that would be missing the point. Fourth point?

For MotorMartin, this ENERGY TCe 90 turbo petrol Twingo is a great little City Car. It’s manoeuvrable, quick steering, well packaged, different enough and contains truly innovative engineering for such a traditional motoring segment. The driving position is comfortable and allows a commanding view of the road and conditions ahead and the interior is an interesting and exciting place to be. I like the cheeky turbocharged engine which certainly enhanced the driving experience and my enjoyment of the Twingo.

MotorMartin started this review with the question, Twinstop or Twingo? The answer? It’s a go from me! Well done Renault, it’s a definite MotorMartin well done. Well done.

Where will you go?

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