DTW fails to test drive the New Twingo.
Following our disappointment with the Citroen Cactus, a viewing of the Renault Twingo has yielded a pleasant surprise. Importantly, unlike other recent Renaults, the styling is not inspired by something from one of Mr van den Acker’s collection of sports shoes. The fact that it reminds me of a Fiat 500 is made more excusable if you consider that it, and not Fiat’s current version, is a truer spiritual updating of the original 500.
I don’t find the stick-on graphics tempting, but the unadorned shape is pleasing enough. Inside is better still. It’s distinctive but sensibly laid out, with Renault finally dispensing with the stupid central speedometer (if my passengers want to know how fast I’m driving they can ask me and I can lie) and replacing it with one in my eye-line. The steering wheel has, totally unnecessarily, a fashionably flat bottom, but I guess I could live with that. There is a red version of the car which you can specify with matching red highlights on seat, dash and doors. The one I viewed was in bright yellow, but the interior highlights, should you choose them, are in muted ivory, not bright yellow – that’s a pity.
There’s plenty of steering and seat adjustment and, at 1.9m, there was still room above my head for intrusion of the sunroof option that I’d like. I could even, for a shortish journey, drive safely enough with the seat forward a couple of notches and my double crammed in behind me. Subjectively it feels more spacious than a Fiat Panda and a more comfortable place to sit, though the front headrests are fixed. For a small car, front stowage is reasonable and there are vanity mirrors behind both sunvisors. The boot is naturally small, but a usable shape. Incidentally, for those of us imagining there might be storage space at both ends, the front of the car is reserved just for battery and fluid reservoirs.
Visibility isn’t going to match my old Renault 5 but, for a modern, and certainly compared with the Cactus, it’s a reasonable prospect ahead and an adequate one behind. The front bonnet doesn’t hinge, it comes off rather like the battery cover on an electric appliance. Likewise, lift the well padded boot carpet and there’s a lift-off metal panel rather like a spare wheel cover. Lift that and you look down at the road, past the compact engine squeezed in between the rear wheels. Is this cheapskate, or is the absence of hinges and telescopic struts rather refreshing? Probably both.
Most frustrating of all this is that I called at the dealer on chance. Normally, by pleading lack of time and the unlikelihood that I’d get opportunity to return at the weekend, I’d have expected to get a test drive. However, the dealer had the not-so-perfect excuse that they had no test car until next week. Under such circumstances I’ve been known to sulk irrationally, but I imagine that I shall duly return when the demonstrator arrives since, unlike other cars I’ve tried for size recently, sitting in the Twingo only increased my desire to drive and possibly buy one. The last (and only) Twingo I drove was a Mark 2 Renaultsport and, although the previous Twingo was generally a disappointment, in RS form it was a fun thing to drive. From reading recent reviews, the new Twingo won’t aim to emulate a 911 and its most endearing trick is a very tight turning circle, so there is the chance that a too dull drive will turn the balance in the other direction but, at present I rather want one.