Renault targets city streets with reinvention of the Twingo
By David Szondy
September 3, 2014
Renault is taking aim at the urban car market with a major redesign for its third-generation Twingo, with the goal of recapturing the spirit of the original release in 1992. Based on last year’s Twin’Z and Twin’Run concept cars, the new Twingo was developed jointly with Daimler and is manufactured at the Novo Mesto plant in Slovenia as what Renault calls a fun, ultra-maneuverable city car.
The most obvious change to the four-passenger Twingo is that it’s now a five-door hatchback – though Renault is keeping it on the quiet by concealing the rear-door handles. The next is that the engine has been moved to a rear mount. The new 864 kg (1,904 lb) Twingo is also 10 cm (4 in) shorter despite its 2.49 m (8.1 ft) wheelbase, yet the interior is 22 cm (8.6 in) longer than the previous version.
The Twingo is designed for navigating tight city streets, with a turning circle of 4.3 m (14.1 ft) and steering that operates through 45 degrees, as opposed to the more conventional 30 degrees, along with an elevated driving position and short bonnet that puts an emphasis on visibility. Renault is also offering a high level of personalization through the choice of colors, trim, and interiors.
"Compact" would seem to be an understatement for the new Twingo with its short nose and the wheels set on the extreme corners, as well as extremely short front and rear overhangs. Like many subcompacts, it looks like it’s all cabin with the bonnet and boot as a bit of an afterthought, but Renault tries to make up for that with a strong shoulder line that becomes broader over the wheels. Renault is so keen on this touch that it even adds graphic decals to some Twingos to draw attention to it. However, this is upset by a puzzling rear spoiler that seems more for aesthetics than function.
Hidden under the boot floor is a choice of SCe 70 and Energy TCe 90, 1-liter, turbocharged naturally aspirated three-cylinder petrol engines mounted to take up as little space as possible and redesigned for the new rear mount. Depending on the engine, the Twingo can crank 70 to 90 bhp (52 to 66 kW) with 91 to 135 Nm of torque. This feeds into a 5-speed manual gearbox.
Since the Twingo is a city car, it isn't made for blistering performance, with a top speed of 93 to 102 mph (151 to 165 km/h), and an anemic acceleration of 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 14.5 to 10.8 seconds. However, there is a MacPherson-type front suspension and a De Dion-type rear suspension arrangement. Renault says that the electric assisted power steering is finely-calibrated for city driving compared with the previous Twingo.
A standout feature of the new vehicle is the interior that boasts as much passenger space as can be crammed into a subcompact, with a flat floor and 50/50-split folding rear seat allowing for a maximum load length of 2.31 m (7.57 ft). Even the engine is designed to fit under the boot for more space, while remaining clear of the wheel wells.
In the cockpit is a large central speedometer and display that draws focus thanks to the contrasting interior trim. There’s also a choice of two multimedia systems, a navigation system based on the R & GO system with smartphone connection capability, involuntary lane departure indicators, and Hill Start Assist for taking off on steep hills.
"New Renault Twingo was inspired not only by the original Twingo but also by the Renault 5," says Laurens van den Acker, Renault's Head of Industrial Design. "It is a modern take on the city car theme with the accent on innovation in terms of its lines and architecture.”