Given the Twingo’s fairly trim 1120kg kerb weight, we’d hoped Renaultsport would make 131bhp stretch just a little further than it has. It’s not that the car is slow, more that you’re made to work hard for a merely competitive level of performance.
We scrabbled to 60mph on a cold but dry track in 8.7sec, which is commensurate with Renault’s claims, but with that level of power and its short, close gear ratios we’d hoped it would go a smidgen faster.
But it makes up for it in the mid-range. Renault claims this engine has two distinct personalities, split at around 4500rpm, but our experience was of an almost entirely linear progression of power from around 3000rpm, which may not make the heart race, but does at least do wonders for real-world point-to-point speed. A 50-70mph time in top gear of 9.5sec is just 0.7sec slower than that posted by the Clio 197, with its very highly tuned 2.0-litre engine.
This is perhaps just as well, for changing gear in the Twingo is an act of necessity rather than choice. You may quibble about the absence of a sixth ratio in the Twingo’s box (and it would do wonders for fuel economy, CO2 emissions and refinement levels), but to real enthusiasts the fact that there’s no great pleasure to be had in changing gear will be just as important.
The gearbox is not terrible but it’s a little slow and can baulk if rushed, particularly from first to second (the main reason it could not better Renault’s acceleration claims).
Once up to speed, you’re never going to have a problem getting the Twingo stopped. The brakes may look rather pathetic through the huge spokes of the Cup wheels, but in fact they’re rather overspecified for the job.