Renault Twingo GT Review
RenaultSport have waved their wand at the Twingo model to deliver a nippy city car that sets itself apart from the rest.
- Incredibly tight turning circle
- Plenty of poke
- Dynamic handling
- Does get thrown about a bit
- Rear engine means smaller boot
A joint venture with Mercedes-Benz’ SMART delegation and the guys at RenaultSport has come to fruition in the form of this new Twingo GT. A rear engine, rear wheel drive car which boasts the tightest turning circle of any car on the market and now 110 horsepower from the 3 cylinder 0.9litre turbo engine. Not huge numbers, but when the car weighs in at just 1,001kg it promises an exciting package.
On the Road
You wouldn’t say it’s fast, the Twingo GT, but it’s definitely quick enough for its purpose. The turbo kicks in at low revs and really squeezes the car onwards with resolve. The 0-60 time of 9.6 seconds doesn’t flatter the Twingo, and it certainly feels quicker than what this universal metric purports. The problem is that the acceleration does fade after 40mph, but on urban and suburban roads you’ve got plentiful power in the licence-retaining speeds.
The Twingo GT offers a level of driving satisfaction that few other superminis can offer. With the engine sat on top of the driven rear wheels, the Twingo has the perfect setup for the purists among us to appreciate. You’re pushed through corners reassuringly and the chassis tweaks help encourage you even more. We’ll touch on that in the Ride & Handling section...
The Twingo GT sits 20mm lower than the standard model and the 17 inch alloys offer an eye catching stance to the overall aesthetic. You’ve also got 40% stiffer damping and sticky Yokohama tyres to keep you planted to the tarmac. On tight, twisty roads this car is an absolute hoot - genuinely, some of the most fun I’ve had in a small package since the Rover Mini. When the roads opened up, though, things do get a little bit… jumpy.
Making good speed down straight B-roads sees the car thrown around quite worryingly by the gradient of the road. It’s nothing uncontrollable but it would be extremely irresponsible to try and navigate the wheel one-handed while at this rate. This is a warm-supermini that requires your full attention if you want to get some speed behind you.
Potholes can send some big shocks through the suspension whereas normal road surfaces are dealt with relatively well, but you do feel like you need to slow right down for speed bumps.
Everything is relative with the city cars, as they are obviously a compromise in most aspects of a modern vehicle. This is true still for refinement. The lightweight materials don’t block out road noise even nearly as well as those in the Clio or Megane, but it shouldn’t be a deciding factor as to whether or not you buy the car. Wind noise is also picked up quite a bit, but only becomes irritating above and beyond 70mph - so whether or not that’s a ‘con’ is subjective.
In the car
The interior of the Twingo is of an acceptable standard. I liked the striped seats which matched the exterior decals. I also liked the ‘Techno Pack R-Link’ which is a £600 option but a box worth ticking nonetheless. This pack includes a reverse parking camera, the R-link multimedia system, a 7 inch touch screen with FM/AM/DAB Radio, Bluetooth audio, handsfree, USB and AUX connectivity and, finally, voice control. One comprehensive package to improve the quality of ownership.
The centre console of the Twingo GT is refreshingly simplistic. Aside from the multimedia system, there are only 6 buttons and 2 dials - all of which control the heating functions. That’s it. You’ve also got a nice pop-up centre glove box which would serve as practical, even though it does feel a bit tupperware.
The Twingo was never going to be the most spacious car for passengers. You can fit 4 adults in but it will be tight, as you would expect. Storage isn’t as bad as you would have thought as there is some luggage space beneath the rear seats which compensates for the sub-par boot (only 188 litres!)
The small boot has the rear-mounted engine to blame, but it’s not all bad because the boot floor is raised to the lip of the hatch, meaning you can slide objects in, instead of lowering them.
The Twingo GT ticks two vital boxes when it comes to running costs. Firstly, the car slides itself into 11E insurance group. Certainly not the best on the market, but for the amount of fun that can be had with the car, it’s not bad. You shouldn’t have too much trouble getting one of these insured.
The second box is fuel consumption. The 0.9tce engine is slightly thirstier in the GT model, as you would expect, but still returns as good as 55mpg on a combined cycle - that’s a really good effort. The car seems to suit itself well to inner city, stop/start driving, and consumption doesn’t increase much when the congestion builds up.
Renault have come on quite a lot in recent years, but they’re not doing as well to disprove the anti-French brigade as the likes of Peugeot. The new 108 is a really nice place to be, but the Twingo is still falling short in one or two key areas. Firstly, the dashboard is entirely made of hard, hollow plastics. Yes, its lightweight materials, but its still largely unpleasant. This continues through to the centre console, and although some brightly coloured paint makes the plastic easy one the eye, it’s still grim to touch.
There is some respite though because, as mentioned, this car is built in partnership with Mercedes Benz and their SMART division, who generally have a better reliability record than the Renault brand.
The Twingo scored 4 out of 5 stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, with 81% for child occupant protection and 78% for adult protection. You do get kit like electronic stability control, hill start, emergency brake assist, 4 airbags and a tyre pressure monitoring system.