Okay, I know that the new Renault Twingo was recently tested in these pages and awarded a just-above-average three and a half stars – in a class that has three higher-polling entrants.
Some will say that this means it’s not an ideal candidate for Autocar’s collection of the year’s 10 most appealing cars, but I disagree.
I’ve consulted the rulebook. A winner is allowed unique points of appeal that can overshadow a class winner’s ability merely to deliver seamless competence across the board. Character makes great cars, and the joy of the Twingo is that it has character in spades.
Let’s start with the simplest advantages: the Twingo’s unique styling and proportions, the size of its mighty doors and the shape of the tiny nose. Second, I like the colours, the ribbed seats and the geometric fascia design that look simple yet not cheap.
Third, I’m excited about where the noise comes from. It reminds me of a Renault R8 I knew and loved when God was a boy – except that the Twingo’s gearchange is modern and slick, and in corners it doesn’t keep trying to chuck you backwards through the hedge. Fourth, that tiny turning circle is a thing of wonder.
The packaging of the Twingo’s tiny engine between the rear wheels and below the boot floor promises that it’ll drive differently, and it does. You ride a chassis that, for once, isn’t nose-heavy. For many, that will be a new experience. From the slightly bouncy ride, you soon detect a mild rearward weight bias (54 per cent) that’s different from the norm. Understand it before you call it bad.
The handling is different, too. Even at the limit, the steering stays light, which can seem weird.