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.