Such a Little Tear

As affairs go, it was short-lived. We bid adieu to the Twingo – from these shores at least.

A brace of refreshed Twingos, amid some concrete. Yesterday. (c) autoblog.md

Barely pausing for breath following the announcement of a mid-life revision to their entry-level Twingo, Renault subsequently announced that the refreshed model will henceforth be withdrawn from these islands. Citing the intention to simplify their offer, a Renault spokesperson told Autocar this week that the carmaker will refocus upon a new range of models and drivetrains over the coming year as part of Renault’s Drive The Future plan, which will include a new iteration of the top-selling Clio model.

But for all of its unquestionable sales success, it’s probably fair to say that the B-sector Clio has not truly entered the emotional consciousness of the buying public. A thoroughly competent and attractive proposition by all accounts, but a car which has evolved in such a manner that it is neither as compact, nimble, nor sufficiently easy to place to truly succeed as a city car.

When the Twingo, a car which was initially conceived as something of a spiritual successor to the Quatrelle, entered the marketplace in 1992, it instead appropriated the emotional landscape vacated by the 5, despite the latter remaining in limited-production Campus form alongside until 1996. The original Twingo was one of those rare designs which immediately felt both modern and timeless. Indeed, much like the seminal Boué 5, there is very little about it which appears dated, some twenty seven years on.

Renault never offered the first generation Twingo in right-hand drive form, meaning that UK (and Irish) motorists were denied one of the few truly original and characterful cars of the 1990s, one which was made until 2007 and remains a daily sight right across mainland Europe. Renault’s rationale at the time was that the likely volumes didn’t justify the expense of re-engineering the model – a matter which appeared to have escaped their notice when the considerably more conventional and visually underwhelming second-generation model arrived to these shores in 2008.

Concept study for the second-generation Twingo. (c) De Simca à Renault: 40 ans de design sur les pas de Patrick le Quément. ETAI

Initially intended to be a clear evolution of the original model, retaining its monospace layout, but issues of cost and undoubted management conservatism ensured the production car was reduced to being another anonymous euro-hatch. Despite the expected sales lift the revised model entailed, it never quite approached the volumes of its predecessor. Lasting a comparatively short six years, it was replaced by the current generation model in 2014 – a jointly developed programme with Daimler/Smart.

The current era Twingo is unusual in employing a rear-engine layout and rear wheel drive, shared with its near-identical beneath the skin Smart For Four. This ought to have brought benefits, if not in packaging, at least in dynamic terms. Its unorthodox layout might also have led one to imagine it providing Renault designers an opportunity to imbue it with at least a soupçon of the original car’s timeless charm – or at the very least that of its more distant relative, the eternal Cinq.

Not so it would appear, the Twingo instead arriving as an unhappy confluence of a number of styling themes which simply didn’t gel. But its appearance was only one side of the coin. It also seems that the Twingo failed to live up to expectations on the road – Autocar having the following to say when they tested one shortly after its UK launch.

(c) autoblog.md

Truth is the Twingo’s rear-engined configuration brings more apparent compromises than gains – as the sanitised handling, disappointing refinement and flawed cabin packaging attest.” Economy, performance and value for money was also questioned, with VW’s UP-based triplets and Fiat’s Panda getting the nod in its stead. Now having said this, our own DTW correspondent lent a more sympathetic verdict in 2014, so draw your own conclusions.

What impact these demerits had on sales is a matter of conjecture (to the likes of us at least), but what can be said is that the current car has been a modest if fairly consistent sales success across Europe. Not so in the UK however, where according to Autocar’s report, less than 900 examples were sold last year.

While sales for these sub-B-segment cars are in decline across the board, this suggests that not only is there little appetite amongst UK buyers for Renault’s entry-level offering, it is also likely that Renault dealers in the UK (and Ireland) are probably incentivised to push more profitable Clios and Capturs to potential Twingo buyers. A further factor resides in Renault’s Dacia offshoot, where a lot more car can be financed for similar outlay for those on a budget.

(c) autoblog

As cities move to discourage combustion engines from their centres, cars such as these are only going to come under further pressure. Already the economics of producing them are such that virtually nobody is making any money doing so. Add in the upcoming necessity for full or partial electrification and it’s increasingly difficult to see what form of meaningful future for city cars there is likely to be without wholesale collaboration on platforms and powertrains.

In the meantime however, we on these trembling isles bid ambivalent farewell to a model line we never quite saw at its peak. Given that our abrupt affair was, in the words of Scott Engel, such a small love, perhaps the best we can do is to part with a sigh.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

66 thoughts on “Such a Little Tear”

  1. “the Twingo instead arriving as an unhappy confluence of a number of styling themes which simply didn’t gel”

    Really? I think the Twingo is a great looking thing. I desperately wanted it to be a great little car.

    I think it’s time to accept that Smart (Mercedes) simply do not know how to make a complete city car. It’s about more than styling or offering a unique two seat layout. It’s all about personality… a sense that the car is your partner in a shared endeavour, not simply a device for transportation.

    The brutal truth is that the ultra-rational VW Up nails the brief. The Twingo does not.

    As for Renault’s other small cars, the original Clio did get it right – every model from the base model on steel wheels to the Clio Williams seemed to have an essential rightness about it. As it has grown and grown, it has somewhat lost its way.

    1. “It’s all about personality…” – very well put, I much agree!

      I also think the current Twingo is great looking. I think there is something slightly mischievous about it, like a pre-school boy about to play a trick on his choleric math teacher. I find it a worthy re-incarnation of the initial Twingo even, without (and probably thanks to it not) trying to imitate it.

      Such a shame everybody appears to agree it’s no good to drive, despite the promising ingredients. That leaves the personality incomplete. Would still really like to test drive the GT version some day.

    2. jacomo – I agree about the original Clio with one caveat; I had the misfortune to be allocated a 1.9 litre diesel (no turbocharger) as a temporary vehicle. The engine was entirely unsuited to the car – heavy, slow and not particularly economical. It struggled to reach more than 50-odd mph up motorway inclines. It would have been a different car with a petrol engine.

      I wish we had been given the original Twingo – I used to see left hand drive imports that people had brought to the UK. Lovely, timeless design – one of my favourites.

    3. I think Smart makes a neat two seat city car and should stick to that agenda rather than trying to stretch it to a four seat which simply does not work for them or Renault. Having failed previously with the For Four I fear they have repeated this mistake and should keep to the market they alone dominate ie the two seat cars. I’m not enthralled by the current styling of Smart cars but the Renault is quite pleasant, maybe a short two seat version of this would be nice.

  2. It’s ironic that VW spent quite a while exploring rear-engined concepts for the Up! and its siblings before finally settling on a wholly conventional FWD layout. Once again, convention seems to have won the day in terms of sales success.

    I’ve read that a rear-engined layout offers packaging benefits in really small cars, but I don’t really understand what these benefits are (apart from improved pedestrian safety and crash protection, neither which are “packaging” benefits, per se). Is the Twingo usefully more spacious than the Up? You typically end up with almost no useful luggage space in rear engined cars; two small spaces rather than one decent one.

    Regarding the Twingo, with its wholly conventional looking front end (grille and “air intake” below bumper) it looks to me that it is trying to disguise, rather than exemplify or benefit from its mechanical layout. Ironically, the monospace Mk1 Twingo, although conventionally engineered, was far more radical and distinctive looking.

    Finally (and trivially) whoever thought that stick-on pin-stripe was an enhancement? It reminds me of the sort of thing people used to do back in the 70’s to their Cortinas with a roll of Halfords self-adhesive coachline tape, usually on Sunday afternoon after coming back from the pub…

    1. The side stripes are a reminder of the 5 Turbo, they’re supposed to evoke its enlarged front and rear wings. I quite like those stripes actually and I think the car looks better for them. On top of all the other reference to the original Renault 5, I think they bring a 70s/80s vibe to the procedings.

    2. I see the stripes as a harmless bit of fun, a wink to the original 5 which also had them.
      I think you don’t have to have them so, in that sense, they’re not an integral part of the design. They only highlight the “flaring” of the wings because underneath them there’s already a line suggesting those “inflated” wings.

      And I think decals can add a little charm, it’s always nice to see a 4L ‘Parisienne’ or a Renault 5 ‘Lecar’ amongst their plainer siblings, the decals livening things up a bit.

      Also, are they that much different from other details that one can also consider unnecessary like chrome strips or other plastic add-ons ?

    3. Those stripes are a little joke, lost on those of you not steeped in Renault histoire, paying homage to the Renault ‘Boutique’ styling additions that were available in the 70s and 80s….. now where did I put my 1977 Renault range brochure?

    4. Those R5 adornments are far too subtle. I prefer this – who couldn’t resist a Renault 14 in yellow, with Boutique stripes, alloy wheels and a vinyl roof?

      1978 RENAULT 14 ACCESSORIES VIA RENAULT BOUTIQUE

    5. Adrian Tebby. That R14 is lovely. Obviously, you’re a man of good taste. Iam sure it helps that you didn’t grow up, say, in a potato farm in the West of Ireland for example.
      And those stripes. Wow. I mean, the Renault 14 is already a thing of beauty but those brutalist stripes just behooves it.

    6. NRJ – very kind of you to say so. I was actually brought up in Gloucestershire, which had a large number of Renault dealers in the 70s and 80s, so was weaned on a diet of 4s, 5s, 12TSs, 14s, 17 Gordinis and the like. I learnt to drive in a 12TS. Looking at it now, that 14 has actually aged pretty well to my eyes. What a shame they all dissolved in water, I’d love a drive in one now.

  3. I got a to drive the current generation for a week in the south of France two years ago and, as much as (because?) I wanted to like it, I was left quite disappointed mainly by the driving experience, which was underwhelming to say the least.
    Visibility is ok yet the car is somewhat difficult to place with precision on the road, and the steering is nowhere near as quick and direct as one would like in what should ideally drive like a go-kart. The only time I really got to feel the position of the engine and driven wheels was going uphill, when the front would lighten on bumps.
    On the plus side the interior space was not bad at for the size (that said I didn’t try the rear seats) and the boot was able to accommodate two medium to large travel bags on top of each other – much to my surprise – with a little space left on the side. But we didn’t feel like using the front storage space, and I didn’t notice any particularly clever touches about the interior design. And while it looked good overall (ours was candy red), with more than a hint of the original 5 about it (to these eyes at least), it definitely lacks the charm, originality or practicality of the original Twingo. Sadly it won’t be missed.

    1. Laurent – it’s just as well that you decided not to investigate under the bonnet – there’s no storage space. The only things under there are oil and screenwash reservoirs, which look inconvenient to access. I think the designers decided that a small turning circle was worth more than storage space. Probably not, in the real world, unless you’re driving a taxi.

    2. LOL – I remember now why I didn’t bother looking in there: for fear of not being able to put the lid back on properly.

  4. The original Twingo was a really intelligent small car, combining a practical shape which put packaging and a feeling of openness at the forefront, executed with style, wit and no little flair. It was also a friendly looking thing – it still pleases me enormously when I (very occasionally) encounter one. I recall reading that Renault design director, Patrick le Quément lobbied hard for this execution against a hidebound management who wanted the usual table wine.

    In my view, any car design that must resort to graphics and decals to achieve its design intent suggests a fundamental failure at conceptual level. I have not seen many of the current generation Twingo – with sales of such magnitude in the UK*, it’s hardly surprising – but those I have seen have been entirely unconvincing to my eyes. It’s obvious that Renault were saddled with the Smart architecture, which probably largely dictated the shape and certainly the layout, but even so, it appears somewhat half-hearted – especially when viewed next to the first-gen car – which appears even more radical and genuinely modern with each passing year.

    *If the Twingo has tanked in the UK, I can only imagine how few have been sold in the Republic of Ireland. I have never seen one – not even on a Renault forecourt. (And Renault sell in decent numbers here…)

  5. It seemed mad that such an attractive little car never made it to the UK straight off. I wasn’t the only Brit visitor to France who loved them.

    So then the Brits just got the watered=down versions, which of course don’t raise a smile or lift the heart.
    No wonder they didn’t sell many.
    So there goes another motoring chapter, shortened needlessly by careless editing.

  6. Hmm..I seem to be in a minority of two* regarding the pin-stripe on the white car above. My problem is that it seems to wander along the body sides with no reference to or alignment with other hard points such as the window or sill line, like a drunk at a disco. I don’t have a problem with decals, per se, and this bolder effort is fine:

    That said, my personal preference is for the unadorned car, which is very cute:

    Apart from the concealed rear door handle nonsense, of course.

    * Thanks, Eóin, I’ll take your comment as an endorsement of mine!

    1. “My problem is that it seems to wander along the body sides with no reference to or alignment with other hard points such as the window or sill line, like a drunk at a disco.”

      It’s ok not to like it 😀

      But it does follow the undulation of the sheet metal in that area as better seen on this decal-free model below. It isn’t drunk I think, just following what the crowd is doing up there 😉

      https://ibb.co/xfstkLb

  7. One of the attractions of the original Twingo for Brits is its harking back to frog-eye little sports cars, such as Sprite and even TR. This would have been utterly lost on Renault, who never made that kind of thing. Now, of course, they’re highly collectable among the French.

    On “speed” decals, I’ve just seen a totally restored Mini-Cooper, orange with black stripes down the bonnet — offset of course. In Normandy. Perfect.

  8. Fair point, NRJ, I hadn’t noticed that crease you pointed out as I’ve had no opportunity to study a Twingo in the metal. They’re pretty rare in rural East Anglia. If I had a pound for every one I’ve seen…I’d have a pound. It was red with a white pin stripe…

    Vic, orange Mini Coopers are right up my street, striped or otherwise, so good on you. Love to see a picture, if you can upload one. We’ve got an orange Cooper, albeit of the latest variety:

    1. Dios mio Daniel, look away now. I’ve just discovered there’s a “Le Coq Sportif” special edition with the release of the restyled car. It’s got stripes everywhere.

    2. Sorry, Daniel, I didn’t take a pic of it. They’re not the kind of thing that’s so rare here. But there’ll be plenty on the Net you can drool over, I’m sure.

    3. Eoin Doyle: Yes, I noticed afterwards. it was in the suggestions at the end of one of the pages. You don’t have one on the Renault 5 ‘NRJ’ special edition from where my username (partly) comes from though. More work to do in 2019 Iam afraid.

    4. There seemed to be hundreds of Citroen AX special editions at the time. For much of its career it looked like those ‘series speciales’ were the only way to shift them, a bit like the obligatory hard discount on brand new Citroens in the U.K and elsewhere. The weirdest of those special edition for me was the ‘Thalassa’. I don’t think it was officially related but it strongly hinted at a long-running french T.V show about the Sea, Boats and Fish. For a long time, and still going on perhaps, Citroen had a bit of an old customer problem and that special edition didn’t do anything to dispel the “myth” for me as the programme had this “old people” image attached to it.

  9. I’m not surprised, but it’s a shame – I liked the looks, more than the newer Clios. The 4-door Smart, despite being an awkward-looking and probably costlier (though maybe not so much on finance) version of the same car, seems to be a lot more common. I daresay that the Twizy is likely still here only because with its 1+1 seating arrangement, there is no change for RHD markets.

    1. Amazed the Twizy has made it across the Channel. It looks inherently unsafe.
      Here they’re only for pizza deliveries when it’s too wet to use a moto.

  10. I like the styling of the current Twingo and had wanted to try one for ages before being given one as a hire car for a week (in France) last summer. It is certainly not without charm but its packaging and road manners leave a lot to be desired (the car’s directional stability at motorway speeds is dreadful). The Panda and Up are in another league entirely, to be honest.

  11. On the subject of special edition models, sorry, but most are used to stimulate sales of excess stock of slow selling models to the gullible and aesthetically illiterate. The “extras” they include are often of dubious value and could otherwise be obtained by negotiation. The colour schemes or graphics they use to distinguish such models are usually horribly naff. Anyone remember this strong seller from the early 80’s? Proof that you can actually polish a turd, or at least put pin-stripes on it:

    It’s not just run-out Cortinas that are subject to this indignity:

    (It’s my birthday today, so I’ve enjoyed a couple of G&Ts, shared a decent bottle of wine and finished off with a Limoncello, hence my rant. Time for bed…)

    1. Happy Birthday Daniel. This is my present to you: you’re absolutely right about all this stripe debate, it’s disgusting and should be stopped at all costs, including on the new Twingo. Enjoy it because tomorrow I won’t agree again 😀

    2. By the way, you had Eoin on your side of the debate but now I have Adrian on mine and we all know who we would prefer to be stuck with in an emergency.

    3. Happy birthday! Have you tried swapping the tonic for dry vermouth?
      The Cortinas seem endearing today, don´t they? Can you imagine a Mondeo so decorated?
      The special edition phenomenon declinded starting at the upper end of the model ranges.

    4. All hail the mighty Cortina Calypso, which was if memory serves, a run-out model. Certainly as a Y-reg example, this must of have been one of the very last off the line…

      Birthday greetings Daniel.

  12. I took a look at the stats for Ireland, suspecting that I’d have to scroll a long, long way down the list at beepbeep.ie, and confirmed my suspicion. The Twingo was, in Ireland in 2018, a singularity. Sales were only one third of the 2017 level which means they fell from three to just the one.
    Adieu, Mme Twingo, nobody ever knew you.

  13. Hi, S.V. Yes, well remembered, it was a Crusader and sold pretty well in the final years of the Cortina Mk5 (or Cortina ’80 as Ford insisted on calling it at the time). Actually, the Mk5, although superficially similar to the Mk4, was a big rework involving a new roof and taller door frames on the saloon*, as well as the more obvious updates to the nose and tail. The mk4:

    The Mk5 for comparison:

    It’s amazing how a minor change in proportions (deeper glass) significantly modernised the look of the car. It was an expensive update after just three years of Mk4 sales, just to give the Cortina another three years of life

    *As was previously the case with the Ford Escort Mk2, the estate got the new nose, but no other bodywork modifications.

    1. I appear to have got my wires crossed. The Calypso special edition was offered it seems on both Capri and Fiesta at various times. In Ireland by the way, the Cortina Mark V special edition was called Tara. There may have been a Tara 2 as well, but better memories than mine would have to adjudicate on that one. Funnily enough, the Crusader name wasn’t seen as being a runner over there…

  14. “Adrian Tebby. That R14 is lovely. Obviously, you’re a man of good taste. Iam sure it helps that you didn’t grow up, say, in a potato farm in the West of Ireland for example.
    And those stripes. Wow. I mean, the Renault 14 is already a thing of beauty but those brutalist stripes just behooves it.”

    NRJ, ignoring your cruel jibe about my supposed upbringing* and assuming you’re not being ironic, I can only agree that the yellow R14 is just brilliant! I was always a fan of this very underrated design and the bold stripes suit the lines of the car perfectly (unlike the feeble pinstripes on the Twingo!) My now brother-in-law’s brother, a vet, had an early one and it was remarkably comfortable over long distances on Ireland’s crummy roads. Such a shame the market shunned it.

    *Actually brought up in Dublin, but spent my childhood summers on the family farm in Galway. And, yes, there were potatoes involved, but also livestock. Don’t ask me for further details: it was emphatically not my vocation to be a farmer!

  15. There was also the Ireland only Cortina Cashel. Speaking of special editions with fantastic stripes, does anybody remember the Fiat Ritmo San Remo?

    1. Eric: I remember the San Remo. Now that was some serious stripage. I assume it was a reference to Fiat’s successes at the San Remo rally(s), although such matters are likely have been lost on the average customer. They also, if I recall, came with a tailgate-mounted spoiler and spot lamps integrated into the front bumper.

      Returning momentarily to Uncle Henry, there was also a Mark 2 Ford Escort special edition (circa ’79-’80) which came with lurid side stripes. If faulty memory recalls, it was the Escort Elite in the ROI, but a brief web search suggests it was called, of all things, the Escort Linnet, in Blighty.

      Clearly there was an ornithological enthusiast resident in Dunton for a time, since the madness didn’t stop there. UK residents were also treated to the Escort Goldcrest and Harrier (sadly no VTOL however).

  16. Eoin: That’s the one! The spotlights were integrated into an extension of the lower bumper as far as I can remember.
    I do remember the Escort Elite as well. This would have been a runout model I imagine, to make way for the mk3.
    The R4 also had it’s fair share of special editions in Ireland. At one time there was loads of examples around which had the Boutique stripe kit. I can also remember an R4 Rodeo model. Not the Mehari like model but an 845cc TL model covered in stripes and decals.
    Another model which I actually owned was the R4 Legend. This was the final model produced in Ireland and again covered in stripes and “Legend” decals. It also had a, fashionable at the time, grill with integrated spotlights which had ceased working long before I took ownership.
    As these were Ireland only models there does not seem to be any pictures of these cars online for reference which is a shame..

    1. Eric: I do recall the R4 Rodeo, but less so the Legend. Given the Quatrelle’s propensity to corrosion at the best of times, I can only guess at its locally-assembled resistance to the perpetual damp.

  17. Eóin: This is true. Mine expired due to rampant corrosion in the rear suspension mounts. A shame, as it really was a fantastic car.

  18. My aunt in Cork had a Fiesta Festival, basically a 957cc L model, red with really garish broad orange and black decals on the sides, a rear window wash/wiper (and nothing else!) She dinged a front wing and the repair shop replaced the decal, on that wing only, with one of a different colour…

    Here’s an example not in the fetching red/orange/black colour scheme, unfortunately:

  19. Daniel: I love the stripes on those Fiestas. I had the same model but it was pale yellow with a dark yellow/black stripe.

    1. Wow! That’s brought back memories. The marketing people really were up all night on that one, weren’t they? The Fiesta Fiesta. Brilliant…

      Maximum stripage however. Ford really were at the vanguard of appliqué.

  20. Given how much excitement the Fiesta Festival seems to have generated (relatively speaking; this is DTW after all) and the fact that I rather undersold all the extras it contained, I thought I’d share the contemporary brochure:



  21. The Mk3 Twingo’s obvious irrelevance is strongly reflected in the sharp,
    turn-in-oversteer maneuver this article’s comments section took in (mostly) avoiding the actual subject… and replacing it with the “eternally fascinating” topic of go-faster-stripes & “special” sales-massaging editions.

    With the risk of being the lonely guy at the pub, in all honesty, to me there’s actually truly nothing *special* to those predictable, boring even, marketing exercises. A carefully chosen combination of trim, interiour colour and body paint beats those “specials” anytime, with a factor of four by four by far…

    The quintessential roots of that phenomenon, originate, perhaps, in the fact that the dominant percentage of the average buyers cannot be bothered with resuming their personal ‘aesthetic responsibility’ , so these “special” editions actually delete the “horror” of having to spec./choose/combine your own future-to-be spanking-new car.

    On the actual topic…. I would take a look at the name Twingo, as it hints at a certain ambiguity, a clearly conveyed message of polyvalence of usage, a perceived “buy-one-get-two” character.

    This designation assumes a certain risk that, should there be any hints
    of singlemindedness in the car itself (which actually can be found in the “shrunk-Modus-underneath” Mk2, and especially so in the “lucky & unhappy” Mk3…), would render the model name pretentious, or
    (in the case of Mk3) perhaps even downright kitsch.

    In that context, it is only the Mk1 original that deserves, fair and square,
    its rather promising name. I would like to point out that I have a certain personal experience in using several of these Mk1 Twingos for quite a few years, in various applications/engine flavours (and also know a thing or two, first hand, about the unusually popular German “Twingo modification scene” – the Ur-Twingo still enjoys a cult status in the Tiefer & Breiter “scene”
    in Germany).

    Its polyvalence-promising ‘Twin-Go’ formula is brutally simple, but it works:

    In city driving, one feels posh, enjoying a very generously sized and layed out cabin, that has a markedly pleasant, sort of a “futuristic-personal-aircraft” ambiance, and offers a loftily premium feeling throughout city usage.
    All with a relatively restrained sizing, so as to make it a genuine city car
    (of course, they’re far from the squeezability of the 1991 Cinquecento
    or the Suzuki Alto/Kei cars, but still very livable).

    On the highway, it tries really hard (and pulls the trick 95%) to perform as
    a C-segment monovolume, offering a cosseting and very bearable secondary ride, making longer hauls totally viable – especially the Ph.2 Mk1 Twingos, which had far less compromised front seats’ structure & foam consistence, and
    had the latter D7F/D4F low-friction (btw.a gem of an) engine, which catered for a much quieter, if a bit higher-strung 130-140 km/h gait (compared to the more “rural”, but also somewhat more torquey-at-higher-gears C3G Cleon engines of the pre-1995 Ph1 Twingos).

    Overall, this ability to perform really acceptable as a mid-to-long-haul travelling car, that’s, at the same time, not lost in translation when doing daily urban transport chores, make it a very capable all-rounder even nowadays.

    The ‘posh’ and somewhat superior-riding character (in relative terms, and mostly as a secondary ride) of the Mk1 Twingo is, nowadays, only replicated (partially so) in the Vw Up!, which also has a certain monovolume-ish architecture (a vast roof-surface area, yet, the Up! does not offer such a low-slung, inviting dash as the Twingo did, making it half-baked in its “Monovoluminousness”).

    I agree with other commenters that, as time passes by, the original Twingo becomes much more relevant and ages great, especially if one is faced with the most challenging aspects of choosing a car – choosing a really cheerful but practical city car, which is nowadays increasingly and depressingly narrowing as a choice (most of the offerings nowadays are soulless to the point
    of preferring a lively, overcrowded public transport).

    The Twingo was rorty, was floggable, but wasn’t rural – it was an act
    of genuine automotive sophistication of form & measure (as the inner components were, really, nothing to write home about – not really
    high-tech, apart from, again, the rather modern latter D7F 1149cc engine).

    The only limiting aspect that I can remember was, a certain feeling of being overly exposed (too big glasshouse and the appealing, too low-slung dash created a feeling that most everyone can see you in HD, which
    is seldom a virtue of a car in real-life usage).

    Apart from that slightly “nudistic experience” (which you quickly learn to adapt to), they are truly legendary cars that deserve a much
    closer look even today.

    1. Hi Al,

      Maybe you already know but for those who don’t, the Twingo name comes from the contraction of Twist and Tango (Vel Satis= velocity + satisfaction).

    2. I read in an interview years ago that Renault used a programme where they would enter all the adjectives and names they thought best described their new car and the programme would come up with names formed from bits of these words.

    3. I guess one factor behind the Twingo becoming part of German kustomisation kulture may have have been its planted stance. This was an element Renault design fought long and hard for, as management initially feared it would undermine the Clio’s status as superior product (yet that car still featured the traditional/narrow French track width).

    4. Al, don’t go thinking you can just casually insert an ‘Air’ reference into your commentary without someone noticing…

    5. Yes Al, I wouldn’t be surprised if the verb ‘Go’ and the word ‘Twin’ were implied. Especially as Renault subsequently unveiled the ez-GO and TWIN’run concepts.

  22. NRJ, while that is the official generics of the name, I believe 95% of the public personally received the name as a Twin+Go, hinting at its versatility.

    Whilst it is possible that Renault wasn’t aware of this possibility, I strongly doubt it.

    The rich notional textures in the ‘Twingo’ model name are also a significant factor in the car’s (now almost legendary) status & sales success.

    It’s oceans apart, in originality, from some of their other attempts (Laguna being a perfect example).

  23. Eóin,
    Thanks for that! It’s always good when there’s a breath
    of fresh Air. 🙂

    Besides, when nothing else helps, Air do.
    (P.S. I consider M.S. to be one of the best driving (and otherwise) albums of all time.
    It was particularly suited to lengthy night hauls in the Twingo. Miss that car a lot).

    1. Al: D’accord. Moon Safari is a classic. 10,000 Hertz Legend I found a bit hit and miss – Lucky & Unhappy being perhaps the standout track. There is currently a Mark One Twingo living next door to me – clearly an import or a long-ish term visitor. It pleases me greatly to see it there.

      I’m sure those long night hauls were Twingtastic…

    2. 10,000 Hertz Legend is rendered all but unlistenable due to the vocal treatments. The Virgin Suicides is even worse. The rest of their albums are very enjoyable – I was listening to Pocket Symphony at the wekend and regularly play Love2 and Talkie Walkie. The two composers take a lot of time over those albums and it shows. It´s not high on emotional content though – even cooler than Stereolab.

  24. Very good observations.

    To me, only Moon Safari has certain emotional ‘highs’, which I sometimes
    find even slightly disturbing. It might have to do, however, with
    some personal, subjective ‘landscapes’ this album
    paints in my ears. It’s undeniably
    a masterpiece.

    I also remember The Orb being fairly often on in the daily Twingo. There’s just something inexplicably, eerily similar about its weird cabin and the 90s typical electronica blossom.

    The topic of which music suits which cars (and roads!) is potentially so inexhaustible
    that it’d be a major sin to give it any chance to develop into a debate.

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