What is it?
This is Renault’s latest attempt to get younger drivers behind the wheel of its funky rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive city car.
As part of a 2016 sponsorship deal with The Colour Run (TCR) – an increasingly popular series of UK-based 5km-running events in which competitors are bombarded with rainbow-coloured powder (think Indian Holi Festival) - Renault has taken the opportunity to produce a vibrant special-edition Twingo.
Based on the mid-range Twingo Play, the TCR comes packed with a range of kit including air conditioning, daytime running lights, electric front windows, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, a USB socket and Renault’s R&GO infotainment system.
However, to set this special edition apart from the rest of the standard styling packs, the TCR also receives an electric panoramic fabric folding sunroof, 15in ‘Exception’ alloy wheels, special edition decals, custom floor mats and the choice of any compatible Exterior Touch Pack and Interior Style Pack.
Considering that an equivalent Twingo Play is a whopping £800 more expensive, the £10,495 TCR certainly looks like good value.
What's it like?
This is essentially the same Renault Twingo that’s been on sale since 2014, with the same base 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that produces 69bhp and 67lb ft.
Even in a car this light – just 864kg - the engine needs to be worked hard if you want to get anywhere even remotely quickly. Uphill sections usually require you to change down at least one gear in order to maintain momentum and the engine also feels and sounds rather gruff and unrefined. A notchy five-speed gearbox and a vague clutch further rob the driver of any real enjoyment.
Dynamically the Twingo feels most at home in a city environment. With light steering, an 8.9m turning circle and short overhangs, you’d be hard pushed to find something more maneuverable, apart from perhaps a black cab. However, the Twingo suffers from a firmer ride compared with the best competition, no doubt in part due to the necessary stiffness of the rear suspension to support the weight of the engine.
Country roads uncover even more of the Twingo’s dynamic shortcomings. For a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive hatchback the little Renault is disappointingly numb and uninspiring. The light steering provides little to no feedback, the stability control cuts in far too early during cornering and the brakes feel over-assisted - a Renault 5 Turbo this is not.
Interior wise, the cabin is the same as that found in the Twingo Play, with some nice touches to set the TCR apart as its own unique edition. The bold Powder Blue paint scheme is carried over into the cabin with a set of coordinated plastic panels, the seats have attractive contrast inserts and the floor mats are adorned with colourful TCR logos. Some will find the interior sickly sweet, but we think the vibrant upholstery adds to what is otherwise a rather simplistic cabin.
Ergonomically the Twingo is a mixed bag. There’s plenty of room up front, the driving position is reasonably good and visibility is pretty decent. However, rear space is limited, with only two seats and limited head room due to the extra space taken up by the panoramic sunroof.
Unfortunately, putting the engine in the rear has also eaten into available boot space, with the Twingo only providing 188 litres. For reference, the Volkswagen Up gives a comparatively generous 251 litres. Thankfully, both rear seats fold flat, bringing the storage space of the Twingo up to that of its competitors. But we can’t help but feel that Renault missed a trick by not providing a Porsche 911-esque front boot.
Should I buy one?
With its unique layout, the Twingo has always looked - on paper, at least - like an enticing choice. However, its lack of grunt, vague handling and limited practicality mean it has never stacked up in the real world compared with the best competition, and this special edition has done very little to change that.
Ultimately, the TCR’s biggest selling point is that it’s £800 cheaper than an equivalent Twingo Play. However, with engine choice limited to that gutless 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, we’d rather spend our money on the more engaging and equally practical VW Up.
2016 Renault Twingo The Colour Run
Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £10,495; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol; Power 69bhp; Torque 67lb ft; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 864kg; 0-62mph 14.5sec; Top speed 94mph; Economy 56.5mpg (combined); CO2 rating/BIK tax band 112g/km, 19%