Renault’s original Twingo was designed 20 years ago by Design Director Patrick le Quément and his team. The styling was heavily influenced by the Polish FSM Beskid prototypes from the 1980s, which never made it into production because of the political and economic situation in Poland at the time.
The Twingo was launched at the Paris motor show in 1992 and remained in production for 15 years, with 2.4 million cars sold. Right-hand drive versions were never made available.
The original Renault Twingo, 1992-2007.
The second and current generation of Twingo went on sale in 2007. It is based on a modified version of the Clio mark II platform, with McPherson struts at the front and a torsion-beam arrangement with compact helical coil springs at the rear. Anti-roll bars are fitted at both ends — 26mm at the front, 22.5mm at the rear. Rear wheel location is by trailing arms; the rear dampers are mounted vertically, but not concentrically with the springs.
Front and rear suspension subframes are mounted to the monocoque using flexible mountings of honeycomb construction. The aim is to filter out vibration, decoupling the suspension from the monocoque, while providing enough rigidity for good handling.
Low rolling resistance tyres are fitted as standard.
The GT model — the sportiest of the mainstream cars — has uprated springs and dampers; its suspension arms are fitted with stiffer bushes, and uprated upper strut bushes aim to provide better steering feel and sharpness. The GT is also fitted with a quicker steering rack and recalibrated electric power steering.
Twingo rear suspension showing torsion beam, trailing arm, helical coil spring and non-concentric vertical damper (which looks concentric from this angle).
Interestingly, the Twingo uses rear drum brakes, despite being fitted with anti-lock on all models. Conventional wisdon suggests that anti-lock doesn’t work with drums — obviously conventional wisdom is wrong. Braking force is distributed electronically.
While the original model was built at the Renault plant at Flins — also home to the Clio and Modus — the second generation Twingo is manufactured at Renault’s Revoz plant at Novo Mesto in south-eastern Slovenia. The plant is certified to ISO 14001, which covers a facility’s environmental management standards.
Renault has decided that a youthful car implies an emphasis on music and ‘connectivity’, so that’s what you get inside. In the glovebox is the Tune Point Audio Connection Box — a place for MP3 players to plug in and a command centre for an optional Bluetooth hands-free telephone system which operates by way of controls mounted on the steering-column.
The rear seat in most variants is split. Not only do the two halves fold down separately, but there’s also 220mm of fore-and-aft adjustment for each half, allowing the balance of luggage space and rear legroom to be varied.
Renault Twingo: sliding rear seats provide 220mm of adjustment.
Although two diesels — DCi 65 and DCi 85 — are available in other markets, British buyers have to make do with just the petrol engines. There are three mainstream units, all displacing 1149cc, plus a Renault Sport power-plant. So far, only one — the recently introduced 1.2 TCe turbocharged unit — meets Euro 5 emissions standards.
Base models get an unremarkable two-valve engine of 60PS and 93Nm that returns 39.8mpg in the European urban test cycle. This engine’s CO2 yield is a predictably mediocre 132g/km.
But it’s the four-valve D4F engines that will represent by the far the greatest number of sales. The atmospheric version — known as D4F 772 — delivers 75PS and 107Nm; fuel economy testing in the urban cycle returns 42.2mpg with overall CO2 emissions of 119g/km — though we should mention that three different sets of figures are quoted for this engine in French-market Twingos, and all of them differ from the U.K. data. We suspect that different combinations of wheels and tyres are available in France.
Renault Twingo bodyshell. Click here for a larger version.
This engine is fitted with a two-volume catalytic converter: a 400ml primary chamber achieves light-off relatively quickly after a cold start, while the larger 1000ml chamber cuts in to reduce emissions more effectively once it has eventually warmed up.
For the 2010 model year, the size of the D4F’s air filter has been increased by 1.5l to 6l compared with the previous version of the engine; the motorised throttle valve has been revised, and the camshaft re-profiled for less valve lift. These measures have reduced the engine’s idling speed from 750rpm to 650rpm, which reduces fuel consumption by up to three per cent. in urban driving.
Renault Twingo manufacturing plant, Novo Mesto, Slovenia.
The turbocharged 1.2 TCe engine is designated D4Ft 782. Its maximum outputs are 100PS and 152Nm. The blown engine’s compression ratio of 9.5:1 is only marginally lower than the atmospheric version’s 9.8:1, and the turbocharger is a small, lightweight unit aimed at giving good bottom-end response and minimal lag. Around 70 per cent. of the supercharged engine’s components are shared with the atmospheric engine. An ‘overpower’ function temporarily boosts power by 5PS in 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears at engine speeds above 4500rpm. The urban fuel economy test cycle returns 36.2mpg, with overall CO2 emissions of 138g/km.
The Twingo Renaultsport 133 was launched in September 2008, using a new Renaultsport 1.6-litre atmospheric engine. Outputs are 133PS (at a busy 6750rpm) and 160Nm. The engine has been developed to be capable of complying with Euro 5 emissions, though at present it doesn’t.
Visual differences between Renaultsport Twingos and ‘normal’ models include unique bumpers, wider front and rear wings and sculpted side skirts.
Two versions are available: the Twingo Renaultsport 133 Cup, and the Twingo Renaultsport 133. The ‘Cup’ features a ride height lowered by 4mm, 10 per cent. stiffer springs with revised dampers, and 17" alloy wheels. The standard Renaultsport model itself rides 10mm lower than the mainstream GT, with spring and damper rates each increased by 30 per cent. While the Cup version is cheaper, by virtue of its more modest equipment levels, the more sporting Cup chassis is available as an extra on the better-equipped standard car — is Renault actually trying to baffle its customers?
Standard tyres are Continental Sport Contact items: 195/45 R16 on standard models and 195/40 R17 on cars with the Cup chassis.
Front and rear tracks are wider than on mainstream Twingos — 60mm wider than the GT model at the front, 59mm wider at the rear. The rear anti-roll bars have a diameter of 24mm, against 22.5mm for the GT.
It’s worth noting that increasing the stiffness of a rear anti-roll bar with respect to a front one normally increases a car’s tendency to understeer; also, when the rear anti-roll bar is actually a torsion beam — as is the case here — the greater the stiffness of the torsion beam the more the independence of the rear wheels is undermined. Suspension indpendence affects ride and handling on uneven surfaces.
Renault Twingo Renaultsport 133.
The braking system uses components from larger models: the discs come from the Mégane II (280mm ventilated items at the front, 240mm solid at the rear), the front callipers come from the current Laguna and the rear callipers are from the Mégane II.
The 133PS 16V power-plant known as K4M RS 854 was developed from the K4M 801 unit used in the Clio and elsewhere. The improved power and torque are the result of modifications and improvements to various components.
The combustion chamber filling rate has been improved with a new throttle valve and the adoption of a new, aluminium plenum chamber. Air inlet tracts are shorter and fatter.
The profile of the camshafts was revised to give longer opening of the valves and higher lift — 11mm compared to an average of 9mm previously.
A compression ratio of 11.0:1 has been adopted — high for an engine that carburates its fuel rather than injecting it directly. The inlet camshaft is continuously adjustable through 44° of crankshaft rotation.
As we have seen on other performance cars, the Twingo Renaultsport models feature an exhaust note that has been tuned to be in keeping with the car’s sporting character — though Renault is keen to stress that the car is no louder than it needs to be in moderate driving.
The four-into-one exhaust manifold, fabricated from steel tube, is being patented by Renault Sport Technologies: the combination of four long steel tubes in a restricted space is regarded as something of a feat. The manifold design is seen as offering a good balance between acoustics, performance and emissions.
An electronic stability control system is fitted as standard, though it can be switched off.
Bore / Stroke
69.0 / 67.8
69.0 / 67.8
69.0 / 67.8
PS / rpm
60 / 5250
75 / 5500
100 / 5500
Nm / rpm
93 / 2500
107 / 4250
152 / 3500
MPH/1000rpm in top gear
CdA / m2
* With 15" wheels in lieu of 14" wheels
† Including mirrors