Renault's Csaba Wittinger discusses the new Twingo with Autocar's Steve Cropley
Renault wanted the new Twingo's design to rekindle the spirit of the original 1992 version
The new Twingo is the result of a collaboration between Renault and Daimler
The Smart Forfour will share the same underpinnings as this new Twingo
The new Renault Twingo boasts a high-up driving position
The French car's turning circle is 8.65m. which makes for agile handling around town
In total, 13cm has been added to the cabin length, despite a shorter overall length
Csaba Wittinger's shows off his inspiration, Renault 5 Maxi Turbo
The new Twingo gets a five-door body style for the first time
The Twingo will offer a choice of two multimedia systems
The Twingo's cabin has been designed to provide every day versatility
The R and Go multimedia system can be hooked up to a smartphone
Rake of the new Twingo's rear hatch is inspired by that of the Renault 5
Boot conceals either a turbocharged or naturally aspirated three-pot engine
The side protection mouldings are among the customisable features
Concealed rear door handles accentuate the sleek profile
Four body colours and myriad customisation options are available
Bonnet slides forward for fluid top-ups and other essential maintenance
Large headlights give the new Twingo an expressive gaze, says Renault
Front end features Renault's new styling, with a large logo on a black background
Csaba Wittinger, the designer whose early sketches inspired the shape of the new Renault Twingo, pulls a well thumbed magazine from his bag and finds a grainy photo of a 1980s Renault 5 Maxi Turbo rally car.
“The driver of this car was a local star in Hungary, where I come from,” he says, “and I’ve been looking at this picture since I was 10 years old. The original 5 was always my favourite Renault, and this was the best-looking of the lot. So I’m really pleased we used some of its features to influence the new Twingo.”
It’s not that Wittinger and colleagues actually set out to recreate a rally Renault in a 2014 city car. They had no such pre-conceived ideas. What they had instead was a package model, an object that demonstrated the hard-points already agreed with Renault’s co-developer, Smart.
“When I saw that package model,” says Wittinger, “certain features reminded me of the 5, so I proposed a design that used some of the detail: the rake of its C-pillar and rear window, the shoulders over the rear wheels, the rear lights positioned like the 5 Turbo’s engine air exit vents and so on. It worked. Our chief designer, Laurens van den Acker, saw the allusion at once and liked it, and he helped me and my design partner, Raphael Linari, preserve it all the way to production.
“I’ve had a very productive partnership with Raphael,” says Wittinger, who also designed the recent off-the-wall V6-powered TwinRun concept. “But I guess it was me who came up with the original sketches that kicked the project off.
“It occurred to me early on that what we had here was a rear-engined car, a type that doesn’t come along very often. I thought the design should reflect what we had. We did a lot of work on the car’s haunches, on the rake of the tailgate and the shape of the C-pillar, not to copy the 5 but to convey a little of its magic.”
There were problem areas, and Wittinger recalls them vividly. “We knew we were going to share the front structure, the windscreen, the front pillars, the front side windows and the front section of the roof. That led to some ‘energetic’ discussions about the belt-line, because Smart was aiming for a wedge profile and we needed something more classical. But by negotiating over millimetres, we managed to work it out.”
The depth of the body was another concern (Renault’s remedy has been to introduce a selection of waistline decals) and so was subtle stuff like the size of the headlights. Wittinger is pleased, if a little surprised, to learn that I’m impressed with the car’s shape, which to my eye shows no evidence that, partly at least, it is formed by negotiation with another manufacturer.
“I am pleased to hear you think we have succeeded,” he says, modestly, “but I believe we will only really know for sure when we see the car on local roads, surrounded by traffic. If it works there, then we will know we have succeeded.”