Renault has nearly struck gold with the revised Twingo, broadening its appeal with some handsome new exterior looks

What is it?

Style is everything nowadays in the city car segment. It is no longer enough for cars like the Renault Twingo to merely offer a good value, solid dynamic package, when even rivals from Korea, such as the Kia Picanto, are starting to have greater visual appeal to the more fashion conscious motorist.

This revised version of the Twingo is Renault’s response to the segment’s trend. The Twingo gets a thoroughly contemporary exterior makeover as part of its mid-life revisions, along with some barely noticeable tweaks to the interior.

There’s also a response to the likes of the Citroen DS3, Fiat 500 and Mini with a much longer list of colour and trim options, designed to give an air of individuality to each Twingo that rolls down the production line.

What’s it like?

What Renault hasn’t made any revisions to is the chassis or powertrain line-up. So it’s business as usual in this Twingo, which remains a pleasantly polished dynamic proposition.

The ride quality was a particular highlight on our test car, which came equipped with optional 15in alloys. It was supple, composed and comfortable at all speeds, and didn’t have a tendency to send the shockwaves through the cabin one might expect of a car with large wheels and a short wheelbase.

The handling was also pleasing, with the lightweight 950kg Twingo showing a willingness to hold on and not wash away at the front end when pushed. Its slight tendency to roll, however, was heightened by a lack of grip offered from the driver’s seat. Another dynamic foible is the electric steering’s lifeless feel around the straight ahead.

As before, the base Twingo gets the 74bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine as fitted to our test car. The engine needs to be revved to make progress that could ever be described as swift. Indeed, the claimed 0-62mph time of 12.3sec felt somewhat optimistic. The anaemic engine also makes for a noisy companion at motorway speeds, proving to be fairly vocal sitting at around 3000rpm at 70mph.

One somewhat surprising feature given the noises coming from under the bonnet was the impressive economy. No matter how hard the engine worked, the Twingo never dropped below 48.0mpg, respectfully within reach of its 55.4mpg claimed figure.

While the styling changes have done wonders to lift the exterior of the Twingo, it’s disappointing the dowdy interior isn’t similarly fit for purpose. The perceived quality remains patchy and it’s a fairly miserable place to spend a journey with a lack of any real design flair those looking at the car from the outside benefit from. The driving position isn’t great for taller drivers, who will be hampered by the lack of reach adjustment from the steering wheel.

Should I buy one?

Renault has nearly struck gold with the revised Twingo, broadening its appeal with some handsome new exterior looks and keeping the excellent chassis and its fun-to-drive traits untouched. But the style conscious buyers Renault will be looking to attract will be put off by the interior and the enthusiast may be tempted to look elsewhere for the punch to match its poise.

Better news on the latter front is on the horizion: the Twingo is in line to get a torquey new 0.9-litre three-cylinder engine as its base powerplant next year.

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Renault Twingo Dynamique 1.2

Price: £10,350; Top speed: 105mph; 0-62mph: 12.3sec; Economy: 55.4mpg; CO2: 119g/km; Kerb weight: 950kg; Engine: 4cyl, 1149cc, petrol; Power: 74bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 79lb ft at 4250rpm; Gearbox: 5spd manual

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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Add a comment…
BriMarsh 1 January 2012

Re: Renault Twingo 1.2

What have they done? Reminds me of the dreadful Punto Evo "facelift".

Mart_J 29 December 2011

Re: Renault Twingo 1.2

I have to say that the original Twingo was a design classic, but can see how that wouldn't work in today's marketplace. Yet the relatively plain 2nd Gen Twingo I thought wasn't too bad. I find it strange that they can engineer a car of this size so well, yet the Megane in certain specs can be a mess but brilliant in others (generally the lower spec the better).

NAK 19 December 2011

Re: Renault Twingo 1.2

From the photographs it appears Renault have engineered wipers specifically for right hand drive. If true this is encouraging but I suspect that these are photos for a left hand drive that have electronically altered. If the former, well done Renault; if the latter the come on Autocar, you can do better than that!