Sutcliffe attempts to peel tyre from wheel, but only succeeds in cocking rear wheel
It's quite good fun in the bends
GT is the top-spec £9995 model
Rear seats slide to and fro
Boot is as big as a Mini's
Front passenger seat folds flat
GT gets standard air-con, optional cruise control
This is the 1.2 turbo
Both new Twingos get 15in alloys
Cute, but not as cute as a Fiat 500
Awful stick-on graphics are optional, for that pre-vandalised look
Even 100bhp GT isn't that quick, but it's quick enough
Twingo borrows underpinnings from old Clio
What is it?
It's the Mk 2 version of a French mega-mini that was originally launched in 1993 to huge critical acclaim. Why? Because despite never being sold in the UK on account of Renault's refusal to re-engineer it for right-hand drive, Twingo MK 1 was probably the funkiest small car in the world throughout the 1990s. And it's still on sale today, 14 years later, in some European markets.
Twingo 1 was a ground-breaking piece of car design that's been endlessly copied, specifically by the far Eastern car makers, but it didn't do anywhere near as well commercially as Renault had hoped.
Hence the reason Twingo Mk 2 is a rather more conventional, grown-up kind of car, even though it still weighs less than a tonne (cue applause) and will cost less than 10 grand when it goes on sale in September (the list price is £9995 for the GT and £8375 for the 75bhp Dynamique).
Under its disappointingly straight-looking skin the Twingo GT is effectively a previous-generation Clio with a new light pressure turbo 1.2-litre engine that develops 100bhp at 5500rpm and 107lb ft at 3000rpm. But it also has an overboost facility that ups power by 5bhp and torque by 4lb ft for up to a minute in second, third and fourth gears.
The headline claim for this engine is that it delivers 'the power of a 1.4 and the torque of a 1.6 with the economy and emissions of a 1.2.' Zero to 60mph takes a claimed 9.8sec while the top speed is 117mph.
What's it like?
On the road Twingo 2 is a genuinely enjoyable little car but it's also surprisingly refined, just as it needs to be in 2007.
Performance from the 1.2 turbo is never going to tear your hair off, but it's amazing how smoothly and rapidly you can make progress without having to drop below fourth gear.
Above 5000rpm the engine is not at its best but, in a way, that's not hugely important because the 1.2 delivers its best work lower down the range, which makes Twingo 2 a surprisingly useful performer in the real world.
And unlike Twingo 1 which, on occasions, felt like it might fall apart if you pushed it too far, Twingo 2's ride and handling are more than up to the job. It steers well, rides with the sort of calm precision you'd expect from a modern French supermini, and even when you do push it hard the handling rarely falters.
It's roomy, too, compared with most other rivals in this class. Beside a Citroen C2, Peugeot 107 or Ford Ka it has more head, leg and luggage room than any of them, and that's before you consider the added practicality of its individually sliding rear seats and its picnic-table passenger chair.
Rear space is also claimed to be the best in class by some margin and the options list is more extensive than any rival's and includes an electric panoramic sunroof, MP3 compatible stereo with three different connection and ports and, I kid you not, cruise control.
Should I buy one?
If you can remember what small cars were like to drive when they really were small (ie when they weighed less than a tonne) then yes.
But Twingo 2 is also surprisingly refined, quite clever inside and extremely roomy considering it's just 3600mm long. Having said that, if you're in the market for a megamini you should wait until the new Fiat 500 appears and try that as well. Because it could be every bit as good as the Twingo GT to drive, and about 10 times more appealing to look at.