Drive the Twingo 133 any distance at all on a decent road and you’ll soon discover that the only point of the engine and transmission is to get the little Renault travelling at a sufficient velocity to give its chassis a proper work out. And with the Cup chassis, that’s almost indecently fast.
Journalists stopped using the words ‘roller skate’ to describe hatches years ago, partly because it had become hackneyed but also because it no longer applied to the new generation of fatter, softer models coming onto the market.
But there is no other hatch currently more deserving of the phrase. This is a car that changes direction in a blink; it doesn’t roll, gently responding to your inputs like a friend doing a favour, it reacts instantaneously and with military precision. It flicks, it darts, the accuracy of each deflection determined entirely by the accuracy of your hands.
There is a price to pay, and the currency is ride quality. On Cup settings the Twingo is almost race-car stiff, and on less than smooth roads you’re likely to feel every bump. This does not bother us unduly – no one bought a car like this to be cosseted – but on certain very bumpy B-roads it can actually interfere with your driving enjoyment as you’re bounced around in your seat.
We know of no other front-drive car on sale whose on-the-limit handling characteristics are more influenced by throttle setting than this. Tread too hard and the understeer can build up to profound levels; lift off too suddenly and, left uncorrected, the car will spin in an instant. But drive it properly, bleeding the power in and easing it off, and the only risk you run is laughing yourself off the track.