Much of Renault’s model line-up has received the Renault Sport treatment over the years. The Clio and Megane have appeared in several RS guises with performance-focused modifications aimed at giving the GTIs, AMGs and Type Rs of this world a few sleepless nights.
This week, we’re looking at the firm’s smallest hatchback, which in hopped-up Renault Sport 133 guise arguably acted as the vanguard for future tiny performance cars. It weighed just 1120kg, cost relatively little and remains one of the cheeriest performance-focused cars we’ve driven.
The previous warmed-up Twingo, the GT, accounted for 25% of all UK Twingo sales, so expectations were high for the RS 133. Sadly, it never quite reached the same heights: Renault sold around 250 Twingo RS models per year from its 2008 launch until it was removed from production in 2013. Not what the sales reps wanted to see, but excellent news for a prospective used car buyer looking for a bargain pocket rocket with real future classic potential.
It performed very similarly to today’s Volkswagen Up GTI, driven by a naturally aspirated, 131bhp (133PS, hence the name) 1.6-litre VVT petrol engine that allowed for a grin- inducing 0-62mph time of 8.7sec and a 125mph top speed. In true Renault Sport tradition, it was marked out from common-or-garden Twingos by a lairy bodykit comprising a front spoiler, a black rear wing and bumper, and sporty 16in alloys, while an optional £650 Cup chassis pack upped its dynamic credentials. Keener Twingo fans will also note the tinted rear windows, bespoke light trim and chrome tailpipe.
The basic Twingo RS was fitted with air conditioning and sports seats as standard, before a stripped- out Cup edition was unveiled in 2009. It sat 4mm lower than the standard model, forewent such follies as window tint and air conditioning, and its rear seats were replaced with a one-piece rear bench for an overall weight saving of 10kg. The reduced equipment was matched with a cost reduction too, because the Twingo Cup started at £11,795 – £700 less than the standard model. The Cup received praise for its go-faster nature and on-track abilities, but lost marks for its rock-hard ride when driven on typical everyday UK roads.