Renault Twingo TCe 90 Dynamique09 | 10 | 2014Scotcars rating

    Renault breathes new life into its little Twingo as it targets city domination ... and eyes VW Up!

    WHEN RENAULT LAUNCHED its first Twingo in 1993, 21 years ago, the modern-day concept of a city car really didn't exist. Sure, many people loved the wee Twingo — Renault sold 2.3m between its launch and 2007 — but it wasn't sold in the UK.

    And while its successor,Twingo II, did cross the Channel, its uninspiring design, looks, performance and versatility didn't really cut it with we Brits.

    So, no pressure then for the designers of Twingo III. Have they got it right? Let's find out.

    First things first: the new Twingo — unlike rivals VW up!, Skoda Citigo and Hyundai i10 — has its engine in the boot. Plus, it drives the baby Renault's rear wheels.

    The car has been jointly developed with small car wizard Smart: the Twingo actually shares its chassis with the forthcoming Smart ForFour, while a shortened version of the platform will underpin the ForTwo.

    But back to the Renault. The Twingo's radical, rear-engined layout means the designers have been able to give the car a stubby 'wheel at each corner' look. Not only that, but as it's only available in five-door form, there's also impressive space in the back.

    Yet it's still compact. At just 3.59m long — which, yes, even by today's modern standards is short for a full four-seater — it's 10cm shorter than the outgoing three-door Twingo II, but has a 12cm longer wheelbase.

    And by utilising its rear-engine format, Renault's designers have been able to push the dashboard further forward. The result is an impressively spacious and versatile cabin. Not only can it accommodate four adults, but by folding the front passenger seat back forward, you can load goods as long as 2.31m. Impressive.

    Related: New Smart starts at £11,125

    Rather bizarrely, there's no stowage space under the bonnet: instead, the front space is filled with the radiator and various fluid reservoirs. So any shopping you have to carry has to be loaded inside the cabin: just as well then that the rear seats fold flat.

    And what of the engine tucked away at the rear of the new Twingo? It's a re-engineered version of Renault’s familiar three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, and like the 70bhp normally aspirated unit, drives a conventional five-speed manual gearbox.

    A six-speed dual-clutch automatic 'box will follow, but it won't be available till this time next year.

    Let's deal with prices and engine options before we go any further. The range starts at just £9,495, and there are three trim levels — Expression, Play and Dynamique — available.

    There's also the choice of two engines: the SCe 70 naturally-aspirated 999cc unit delivers 70bhp, and is good for 0-62mph in 14.5secs, a top speed of 94mph, combined fuel figure of 67.3mpg and 95g/km CO2.

    The nippier turbocharged 898cc tucked away in the TCe 90 delivers 90bhp, covers the 0-62mph 'sprint' in 10.8secs, carries on to 103mph, and returns 65.7mpg and 99g/km CO2. Both are fitted with stop/start as standard.

    The range-topping Dynamique Energy TCe 90 Stop & Start is priced £11,695. If I were you though, I'd check out the Play SCe70. At £9,995 it might be just a tad more expensive than the rival Citigo and i10, but it's better looking. Plus it comes with all the kit you really need, including air conditioning and driver’s seat height adjustment.

    Of course, small might be beautiful, but what's the new Twingo — which comes with a whole host of customisable options — like on the road?

    Related: Mazda reveals CX-3

    First thing, you sit quite high up in the cabin — especially when compared to its rivals — which is no bad thing. The elevated position is a real boon when it comes to manoeuvring in and out of tight parking spaces. And with it's tight turning circle of just 8.59m — that's not much more than a London taxi cab — it's brilliant in town.

    Step up to the range topping turbo and you get variable rate steering — which allows you turn the wheel from full left lock to full right lock in half a turn fewer than cheaper naturally aspirated model — as standard.

    In town the Twingo's a hoot. But what might surprise you is it's more than capable of holding its own when bowling along at 70mph on the motorway. It's even relatively hushed in the cabin at those speeds too, ensuring that — if you needed to — you could actually cover quite a distance of motorway driving.

    Give the Twingo a winding country road, and again it'll relish the challenge. Get the engine operating at its peak torque levels, and it'll happily scamper cross-country putting a smile on your face.

    So, the big question is, should you buy one in what is an ever-more competitive sector?

    There's no question the TCe 70bhp is perfectly suitable if the vast majority of your driving is city based. It'll do that job every day of the week.

    But if you want something a bit more versatile, you'll need to step up to the 90bhp turbocharged version. And that's no bad thing.

    You get quite a bit for your money in the Dynamique 90: air-conditioning, stop/start, lane departure warning, DAB/Bluetooth sound system, 15in alloys, leather steering wheel and gear knob, remote locking and hill-start assist are all standard.

    The new Twingo is definitely a serious rival to the class-leading VW up!

    Related: Roadtest — VW up!

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    Jim McGill


    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £11,695
    Engine / Power: 3cyl, rear-mounted, 898cc, turbocharged petrol / 89bhp
    How fast?: 10.8sec; / Max 103mph
    How big/heavy?: L3590mm Wtbc mm Htbc mm / 943kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 65.7mpg combined / 99g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: Smart ForTwo, Hyundai i10, Citroen C3, Ford Ka

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