Renault Twingo Hatchback Review

Exterior

The range of affordable personalisation options allows buyers to create something approaching a unique car

This is the first five-door Twingo, but Renault has gone to great lengths to hide the rear door handles and make the Twingo look like a three-door car. Mind you, however many doors people think it has, it’s undoubtedly a very smart-looking little car, with niceties like body-colour bumpers and door handles on every model. That now-familiar Renault nose and wide rear shoulders give the car some real personality, while the range of affordable personalisation options – covering everything from the wheels to the paint colour, decals and mirror caps – allows buyers to create something approaching a unique car.

Interior

In common with rivals like the Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo, there are plenty of bits and pieces that can be tailored to the buyer’s own taste, which only goes to smarten what is already a distinctive – if not the highest-quality – cabin. The large round speedo dominates the view through the steering wheel, while the centre console features the latest in connectivity. With the standard R&Go system, you mount your smartphone on a cradle, and once you’ve downloaded the free app, you can use the screen as a touchscreen to control the phone, stereo and sat-nav. Alternatively, on top Dynamique models, you can specify the optional – and excellent – R-Link system, which allows you to control several functions and download-able apps from an integrated seven-inch touchscreen.

Practicality

You might think the Twingo’s dinky dimensions would translate into a cramped cabin, but not a bit of it. There’s plenty of head- and legroom for six-foot tall adults – despite the fact that you sit a little higher than in the Twingo’s rivals – and the only caveat is to avoid the basic Expression models, which don’t come with a height-adjustable driver’s seat. There’s also a surprising amount of headroom in the back, and the Twingo provides as much rear legroom as its best rivals. The 188-litre boot (which expands to 219 litres with the rear seat backs upright, rather than in the reclined position they normally sit in) is a little short of what you’ll find in a Volkswagen Up, but every model has easy-to-fold 50/50-split rear seats, as well as a front passenger seat that can be folded flat to take long loads. The designers have also included lots of oddment stowage around the cabin, including big cubbies under the rear seats and some removable containers.

Ride and handling

The light steering and tight turning circle make it a doddle to get in and out of tight spaces

Thanks to the car’s rear-engine layout – which allows the front wheels to turn much more than in a conventional car – the Twingo is wonderfully manoeuvrable: its light steering and tight turning circle make it a doddle to get in and out of tight spaces. However, if you’re expecting mini-Porsche 911-like driving thrills – after all, the cars share a similar layout – then think again. Renault admits that it has set the car up to drive as much like a front-wheel drive car as possible. Mind you, it’s a very good front-wheel drive car, displaying excellent balance through the bends and certainly as entertaining as any of its rivals. Our biggest reservation is the ride: particularly on the 16-inch wheels that come with Dynamique trim, the suspension makes a real meal out of ridges and any surface imperfections. Models with 15-inch wheels are a little more comfortable, although they still have a firm feel, riding less smoothly than, say, an Up, Mii or Citigo.

Performance

Ccontrary to what you might expect, the less powerful motor is the sweeter and smoother of the two

The car comes with a choice of two engines – both petrol – and each is more than up to the job within the city limits. However, contrary to what you might expect, the less powerful motor is the sweeter and smoother of the two, free of the peaks and flat spots in its power delivery that make the TCe 90 difficult to drive smoothly. That said, if you do regularly head out of town, the more powerful engine makes more sense: it demands less hard work to keep up with the ebb and flow of traffic, copes better with life at the motorway limit and allows you to take advantage of overtaking opportunities.

Running costs

Both engines are very economical, and (when fitted with a start-stop system) have CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km, which compares well to what you’ll find in the Twingo’s most obvious rivals. Models with the SCe 70 engine are also pretty cheap to insure, although the TCe Dynamique model sits several groups higher than the rest of the range. If you buy your Twingo using Renault’s Selections finance package, you pay no extra for the first four years/48,000 miles servicing; or, you can add it to the regular warranty package for a few hundred pounds if you don’t use the company’s finance.

Reliability

The Twingo has been jointly developed by Renault and Smart; and although neither company has a particularly good record for reliability, according to Warranty Direct, the previous-generation Smart displayed better than average reliability. That bodes well for this car, and on top of that, there is the peace of mind of a four-year warranty.

Safety

Euro NCAP is yet to publish any test results for the Twingo, but Renault is expecting a four-star score. The standard kit on every model includes twin front and side airbags and tyre pressure monitoring system, as well as a Lane Departure Warning system on Dynamique models. However, there is no option for anything like the auto-braking City Safety system that is available on the VW Up, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo.

Equipment

Basic Expression models look rather spartan and don’t have many options available with them

Every model comes with a DAB radio, Bluetooth, remote central locking and electric front windows, but the basic Expression models look rather spartan and don’t have many options available with them. Play trim isn’t that much dearer, but brings a height-adjustable driver’s seat and air-conditioning. However, you need to stretch to top Dynamique trim to get standard alloys, cruise control and leather trim on the steering wheel and gear lever. These top models are also available with a wider choice of options, especially when it comes to creature comforts and technology.

Why buy?

The Twingo’s number one selling point is undoubtedly its style, especially with the scope for personalisation on top. But, beyond that, it’s also an enjoyable car to drive, with plenty of space inside and decent running costs.