What is it?
Renault’s all-new Twingo, tested in the UK for the first time. The new city car is most notable for being rear-engined and rear-wheel drive as it enters its third generation, what with it being a sister car to the upcoming Smart Forfour.
Two three-cylinder engines are on offer: a 1.0-litre naturally aspirated unit and a 0.9-litre turbo. It’s the former we’re testing here.
What’s it like?
As our first drive of the new Twingo in France at the end of August revealed, the new Twingo feels distinctly like a conventional front-driver in the way it goes. If you want to replicate old-school city car charm and thrills from a bygone era, best head into the classifieds.
What you get with this new Twingo is a charm of a different kind. It’s a car that makes you feel good to look at inside and out; the cabin is spacious, the materials respectable, the colours are cheerful.
To drive, it’s got all the character that all good city cars should have. It actually feels a bit like a Fiat Panda, or that could be the mind playing tricks what with some of the interior shapes, sense of space and the lofty driving position.
The ride is comfortable and supple enough except over the most high-frequency of surfaces. The steering is far too light though, though the car corners respectfully, and can raise a smile if you keep the momentum going through a series of bends.
This Twingo is at its best in the city, something you’d hope would be the case given its brief. There the light steering is more welcome as you weave through traffic. Parking and manoeuvres are a doddle thanks to the exceptional turning circle.
The 1.0-litre engine is also zesty enough around town and can sound quite fruity with enough throttle, but this engine is also this car’s weak point. Its sluggish performance when accelerating beyond 30mph makes driving outside the city limits a chore.
When you eventually get up to motorway speeds, the engine sounds and feels like it’s struggling, and careful planning is needed for any lane change or upcoming roundabout if all momentum is not to be lost.
That lack of refinement also rears itself when the car is stationary without the stop-start system engaged. So bad are the vibrations, it feels as if 100 mobile phones are going off on vibrate at once and a couple of folk outside are rocking the car. Better hope that stop-start system, which seems a bit too selective about the scenarios when it works, kicks in.
Should I buy one?
The Twingo won’t be for everyone, but for those that are sold on its many charms should opt for the turbocharged 0.9-litre version, which adds even more character and more rounded performance to go with it.
This naturally aspirated version is only for you if you never make it outside the ring road.
Renault Twingo Dynamique SCe 70
Price £10,995; 0-62mph 14.5sec; Top speed 94mph; Economy 67.3mpg; CO2 95g/km; Kerb weight 865kg; Engine 3cyls, 999cc, petrol; Power 69bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 67lb ft at 2850rpm; Gearbox 5-speed manual

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