More than 20 years ago, long before the city car class blossomed to accommodate the diverse range of models you’ll find in it today, a 3.4m, three-door, left-hand-drive-only Renault proved that small could once again sell in big numbers.

Offered with only one engine and in one trim level, the 1992 Twingo was a bold, characterful and utterly distinctive urban runabout of simplicity, compactness, value and abundant flair. It was more desirable than a Fiat Panda and more modern than a Mini and it beat the Ford Ka to market by several years.

It was a hard act to follow. Launched in 2007, the second-generation Twingo should have built on its predecessor’s success but it never hit the sales heights of the Mk1.

Renault started work on a better-packaged, more original replacement in 2008. A rear-engined platform was the only way to take the car forwards, as Renault saw it, but prohibitively expensive.

Then along came Daimler, which needed something similar for its Smart brand, and a future for the Twingo was secured.

Time to find out exactly what that future looks, sounds and drives like.

Top 5 City cars

  • Volkswagen Up
    The Volkswagen Up city car isn't revolutionary, it's just quantifiably better than the opposition

    Volkswagen Up

    1
  • Hyundai i10
    The Hyundai i10 is offered with either a 1.0-litre petrol engine or a 1.2-litre petrol engine

    Hyundai i10

    2
  • Suzuki Celerio
    The Celerio is an all-new city car from Suzuki

    Suzuki Celerio

    3
  • Fiat Panda
    Panda’s 4 star EuroNCAP crash score falls short of some rivals

    Fiat Panda

    4
  • Vauxhall Viva
    Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SE is priced from £7995

    Vauxhall Viva

    5

First drives

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    Plug-in hybrid Optima is a practical, tax-efficient PHEV that undercuts rivals and fulfils its main remit well, but keen drivers need not apply
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    Awful driving position aside, drop-top Huracán handles UK roads well. It's more dynamically rounded than its rangemates, but lacks rivals' handling bite