More than 20 years ago, long before the city car class blossomed to accommodate the diverse range of models you’ll find in it today, a 3.4m, three-door, left-hand-drive-only Renault proved that small could once again sell in big numbers.

Offered with only one engine and in one trim level, the 1992 Twingo was a bold, characterful and utterly distinctive urban runabout of simplicity, compactness, value and abundant flair. It was more desirable than a Fiat Panda and more modern than a Mini and it beat the Ford Ka to market by several years.

It was a hard act to follow. Launched in 2007, the second-generation Twingo should have built on its predecessor’s success but it never hit the sales heights of the Mk1.

Renault started work on a better-packaged, more original replacement in 2008. A rear-engined platform was the only way to take the car forwards, as Renault saw it, but prohibitively expensive.

Then along came Daimler, which needed something similar for its Smart brand, and a future for the Twingo was secured.

Time to find out exactly what that future looks, sounds and drives like.

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First drives

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