The all-new rear-engined, rear-drive Renault Twingo has been spied as a full-body prototype for the first time.

Due to launch in late 2014, the rear-engined configuration of the Twingo is a radical departure from the current supermini market - but its layout is a consequence of the Twingo being the sister car to Mercedes’ new Smart car family.

The new Renault Twingo and the new five-door Smart models will share the same all-new platform, all-new engines and transmissions and be built in the same factory in Nova Mesto, Slovenia.

While Smart will continue to produce a two-seater city car based on a shortened version of this platform at Hambach in France, the full-size architecture will be used both for the five-door Twingo and the new five-door Smart supermini.

The new model Twingo will finally pitch the French company into the growing – and potentially lucrative – market for ‘character’ superminis established by the Mini and further exploited by the Fiat 500 and new Vauxhall Adam.

The design of the new Twingo borrows heavily from the Renault Twin'Run concept, and also references the classic R5 with features including its sloping rear tailgate.

Very little information has so far leaked out concerning the new rear-mounted drivetrains, but it is understood that they have been engineered from scratch and will be three-cylinder units, hooked up to both a conventional manual gearbox and a new dual-clutch transmission.

This new platform is also designed to take an EV drivetrain, but there are no details yet on the battery size or likely range. There will be EV versions of the Twingo and both Smart models.