Friday is supposed to be a quieter day during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. At other tracks the F1 boys have practice sessions on this day but – Monaco being Monaco and therefore just a little bit different from the norm – that takes place on Thursday.
There is some track action on Friday, but it is confined to the support acts such as GP2 and Porsche Supercup, before F1 takes top billing again for Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race. The relaxed schedule gives the glitterati more time to lounge on their yachts in the harbour and top up their tans, or browse the shops for a new diamond-encrusted Rolex.
At lunchtime on Friday, however, those hoping to enjoy a leisurely fruit de mers platter on the terrace at the Hotel de Paris had their peace and quiet shattered by the shrill engine note of Renault’s latest concept car, the Twin’Run. The French manufacturer’s chief operating officer, Carlos Tavares, steered the crazy city car on a few lairy laps of the grand prix circuit.
The Twin’Run, as you can read here, serves up a few pointers of how Renault’s next-generation Twingo will look. It is also one of the craziest showcases for La Régie’s engineering skills that you could ever expect to see.
Quite why you’d want a city car with a 3.5-litre V6 competition engine where the rear seats should naturally be is anyone’s guess, but after watching the car lap the streets of Monte Carlo, pursued by a Renault 5 Turbo and a Clio V6, want one we do.
Like the crazy F1-inspired Twizy unveiled by Renault a few weeks ago, the Twin’Run is entirely impractical and all the more brilliant for it. If the firm had been taking deposits after today’s demo runs I would have spent the rest of Friday afternoon in Monte Carlo’s casino desperately trying to raise the funds.
You might surmise from the Twin’Run that Renault has been force-feeding happy pills to its engineers and concept planners. The extreme city car is the latest in a raft of off-the-wall creations including the Twizy F1 and the Twin’Z electric vehicle.
As much as we’d love to see a production version of the Twin’Run, it seems nigh-on impossible given the car’s motorsport underpinnings. Still, there’s little doubt that the same vivacious essence that underpins these vehicles is also filtering through to the firm’s road car products.
It is very likely that the next production Twingo will be rear-wheel-drive and rear-engined (albeit with the powerplant pushed much further back than in the Twin’Run, to accommodate an extra pair of seats).
The new Clio, all-electric Zoe and funky Captur have all received positive reviews in recent weeks. The strategy, it seems, is to make all new-generation Renault products stand for fun and excitement.
What a contrast to 18 months ago when La Régie was far more glum, particularly in the UK where it was forced to dramatically slim down its product line-up in an attempt to fight back to profitability.
It would be imprudent to state that all is now rosy at Renault, but projects such as the Twin’Run suggest a company that’s fighting back in the right way – by focusing on vehicles that can captivate and thrill.
Now I’m off to the casino to put all my remaining euros on red…