Renault Twingo, motoring review: Big in the city thanks to rear-wheel power and tight turns

The Twingo can make tight turns that would make a London taxi jealous

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Indy Lifestyle Online

PRICE £9,495 (£13,165 as tested)
ENGINE CAPACITY 0.9-litre
POWER OUTPUT (bhp @ rpm) 90 @ 5,500
TOP SPEED (MPH) 103
FUEL ECONOMY (MPG) 65.7
CO2 EMISSIONS (G/KM) 99

You know the sort. He is a keen motorist who has proudly affixed his Institute of Advanced Motorists badge on the bonnet of his sporty saloon.

Get stuck next to him (it is normally a him) at a dinner party and he will start droning on about the benefits of rear-wheel-drive saloons like his. The thing is, unless you are Lewis Hamilton, most fairly modern cars behave in a fairly similar way on the road.

Nonetheless, our imaginary motorist friend, let's call him Garry, will be convinced that rear-wheel drive is better. It is proper driving, he will say, with the rear-mounted drivetrain spreading the weight more evenly front-to-rear and resulting in better handling.

He should like the new Renault Twingo. It may be a tiny city car with an economical engine and minimal emissions, but with rear-wheel drive it is set up in exactly the same way as a Porsche 911 (the engine is even slung out the back in the boot).

Unlike the Porsche, the Twingo is offered with a fairly humdrum 1.0-litre engine as standard or, as in the case of my test model, a delightful turbocharged variant, tuned to offer more of a raspy note. Combine that with its go-faster stripes and the red trim of the Dynamique specification model and I could almost imagine that I was driving a proper sports car as I cut through city traffic.

Of course I wasn't not. The Twingo doesn't feel remotely like a Porsche or benefit from German attention to detail or build quality. Compared with its nearest rivals (the Hyundai i10 and the VW Up!), the Twingo stands up well, though, with low emissions (no congestion charge or road tax). But it is loud on the motorway and doesn't handle rough surfaces well.

This probably means that this isn't the car for Garry and his type (as opposed to people who just drive). There is one benefit of rear-wheel drive that is vital for any city journey. Putting the drivetrain at the back means that the tiny front wheels can turn through 45-degree angles. The benefit of this unusual geometry is that the Twingo can make tight turns that would make a London taxi jealous. Around town, that's far more useful than feeling like Lewis Hamilton or silly go-faster stripes.

This is a good little city car, and Renault should be happy with just that.

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