Third-gen Twingo arrives with a rear-engined layout that promises driving fun and plenty of space
13 February 2014

The new Renault Twingo aims to recapture the spirit of the Renault 5, according to company boss Michael van der Sande.

He revealed that the Twingo will be the latest step in the rebirth of Renault's range. The firm is "working through [the] range, looking for model opportunities – that will include big cars," said van der Sande. The new Twingo made its debut at the Geneva motor show today.

The French firm is looking to tear up the traditional city car blueprint with its new car – the Twingo takes on a new five-seat, four-door, rear-engined and rear-wheel-drive layout. That formula has not been seen in mainstream European car design since the Hillman Imp went out of production in 1976.

No pricing has been annouced, but Renault says it will be priced competitively in the A-segment. The new car will go on sale in the UK in September in a range of four colours: red, white, yellow and blue.

The production car is a very compact five-door machine, whose styling stands out from the Clio supermini. With rear-wheel drive and uncorrupted, notably quick steering, the Twingo could easily challenge the bigger and more expensive Mk3 Mini as the best-handling small car.

The new Twingo shares its all-new platform with the upcoming Smart family. A shortened version is being used for the new Smart ForTwo, and the Twingo has the same underpinnings as the new Smart ForFour.

The Twingo uses a pair of newly developed three-cylinder engines. The first is a modified version of the existing 898cc TCe 90 unit developing 89bhp and 100lb ft, which is canted over at 49 degrees to maximise interior space. The second engine is a unit of the same capacity producing 69bhp and 67lb ft. Both will be mated to a five-speed manual gearbox at launch.

Last year, Renault chief designer Laurens van den Acker told Autocar that the new Twingo’s styling was not part of the new family look established by the latest Clio and Captur crossover. He said: “Small cars can be hard to design. The new Twingo is related to our other cars, but it is not a reproduction. It is somewhat iconic.”

Van den Acker also said that the new Twingo’s shape was inspired not just by the ground-breaking original 1992 model, but also by the classic Renault 5, one of the definitive European hatchbacks. Van den Acker said that the new Twingo is 100mm shorter than today’s model, making it 3.5m long. Despite this, cabin length grows by 130mm.

“Moving the action [drivetrain] to the back gives fantastic advantages,” he added. “It increases interior space and wheelbase and shortens the overhangs.”

The boot floor is flat and can carry loads of up to 2.2m in length. Renault says it is the only car in its class capable of "carrying a Swedish book shelf".

“That means 80 per cent of the car can go to passengers. You get a lot of extra agility and, thanks to rear-wheel drive, you can achieve a turning circle like a London taxi,” said van den Acker. Renault claims the new Twingo can turn within a 8.65m radius.

The new Twingo and five-door Smart models will share all-new transmissions and be built in the same factory in Nova Mesto, Slovenia. Smart will continue to produce a two-seat city car based on a shortened version of this platform at Hambach, France.

Renault said that work on the replacement Twingo began in 2008 and explored the rear-engined format as the basis for a new city car.

The company said, “The aim was to create an even roomier and more agile city car, despite its smaller footprint. Combined with the use of a smaller block and the positioning of the wheels at the car’s extreme corners, the rear-mounted engine also frees up extra cabin space, while New Twingo also boasts the sort of wheelbase and roomy interior more generally associated with models in the next segment up.”

Renault has a history with this layout, notably with the Dauphine and Renault 8.

Read more Geneva motor show news.

Our Verdict

Renault Twingo 2008-2013
Renault's baby received a cosmetic makeover in 2011

The Renault Twingo is fun, versatile and only slightly flawed. It’s a great effort

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Comments
10

2 March 2014

Better looking than a Fiat 500?, oh yes!, most definately.

Peter Cavellini.

2 March 2014

Same old Renault. They have traditionally made concept cars to die for but when it comes to translating the design into production something seems to go wrong. This maybe largely inoffensive but the concept promised so much more. I'm disappointed this looks so dull in comparison. What went wrong? Guess the layout (intelligence) has also been driven by Smart. Guess the new Forfour will be here soon. Maybe that'll be more exciting. Hopefully...

5 March 2014
Simplicity is key wrote:

Same old Renault. They have traditionally made concept cars to die for but when it comes to translating the design into production something seems to go wrong. This maybe largely inoffensive but the concept promised so much more. I'm disappointed this looks so dull in comparison. What went wrong? Guess the layout (intelligence) has also been driven by Smart. Guess the new Forfour will be here soon. Maybe that'll be more exciting. Hopefully...

Looks pretty true to the concept to me. It doesn't have the fancy lights or the rear opening doors, but it is all there. Renault I think are one of the few manufacturers that actually manages to convert their concept cars into production reality. Many just show a jazzed up version of the production as a 'concept'. This was a collaboration from the start with Smart. Smart needed Renault's small car know how, and Renault needed a technical partner with which to share costs. This is not near as bad as VW who showed a rear engined concept and then came up with the most conventional of conventional mono-boxes known to mankind.

4 March 2014

What is wrong with Autocar? An error of fact is pointed out and discussed and it's still there a week later in a supposedly updated story. The Hillman Imp was not the last rear engined mainstream car. Since it finished production several other 'mainstream' cars with rear engines have been in (or still are) production, including the Smart For Two, Fiat 126, Simca 1000, Skoda Estelle and the Mitsubishi I-car. The new Twingo is undoubtedly, however, the only five door, rear engined European car. And the Hillman Imp was two door/three door like the Fiat 126.

5 March 2014

This looks like a clever idea by Renault. With the availability today of small, powerful, yet economical engines it allows for a space efficient package and a better proportioned car. I notice the windscreen looks lower on this without the usual botch around the bottom of the 'a' pillar caused by a too high bonnet mated to a small car. I would think that cars with less than 150bhp and stability control could be kept out of the hedges by mr&mrs average motorist :-)

6 March 2014

This is the first French car in 20 years that I would consider buying.

6 March 2014

I think we'll be the judges of that. In about 25 year's time... Meanwhile it looks sweet and inoffensive(!) But I would say there's more 500 going on there than original Twingo or 5. Even the baby blue trend was started by Fiat!

8 March 2014
Andrew Lee wrote:

I think we'll be the judges of that. In about 25 year's time... Meanwhile it looks sweet and inoffensive(!) But I would say there's more 500 going on there than original Twingo or 5. Even the baby blue trend was started by Fiat!

Baby blue was part of the original's 50s colour palette. Light blue was one of four colours on the original Twingo and baby blue was one of the 5 colours on the 4CV. So it owes more to Renault I think. It is also called Gordini Blue. All this negativity towards the new Twingo is just ridiculous. Next you'll be saying that it owes more to Ford because the wheels are round, just like they were on the Model T.

9 March 2014

I reckon one can see nod to the Dauphine and R4 due to the standard 4 door layout. Naturally the Dauphine was rear engined as well. So it may be closer in spirit to the Dauphine actually. Some aspects of the interior design like the speedo, and plastic wrap around of the instruments as well as some of the colours available, may be a not do the original 50s interior. I really like how they have succeeded in focusing on extreme practicality yet they manage not to have the car look like some of the Japanese K-car cubes. Let's remember this is not a niche car but a mainstream one. Overall an excellent effort.

9 March 2014

This car is in the tradition of the great European small cars of the previous decades. Like the Dauphine - R4 and 2CV, in that I can see the new Twingo as the sole car owned by a family. Think about it. Like the Dauphine, the R4 and the 2CV, it will be possible probably to fit everyone inside - and go places.

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