Renaultsport Twingo v Suzuki Swift Sport
Here, the revised version of the Twingo Renaultsport goes head-to-head against the latest Suzuki Swift Sport, to decide which one is the best small hot hatchback you can buy.
What are the Renault Twingo Renaultsport and Suzuki Swift Sport like to drive?
Despite the similar power in these cars, they differ markedly against the clock: the Swift is over a second quicker from 0 to 60mph, and from 30 to 70mph through the gears.
Things are much closer in in-gear flexibility, but let’s be honest: you won’t spend much time at low revs in either. Both cars develop peak torque at well over 4000rpm, and you soon learn to keep the engines spinning at least that quickly if you want to get anywhere fast.
The Suzuki Swift Sport is more than a second quicker from 0 to 60mph
That’s easier in the Swift, because you can just bang-bang-bang your way through its neat six-speed manual gearbox. However, the rest of the way the car responds isn’t quite as sporty: it has softer suspension than the Twingo, and its slower steering doesn’t angle the car’s nose into bends as aggressively.
Despite that, though, the Suzuki is a great little car to drive quickly: the controls are well balanced, the movement in the car’s body gives the driver some valuable extra sensation and the supple suspension keeps the car settled when you’re driving quickly on less than perfect road surfaces.
Our Twingo had the optional Cup chassis, which lowers and stiffens the suspension. There’s no denying that it gives the Renault sharper reactions, but there is a major price to pay. Away from smooth roads, the ride is much firmer than the Swift’s and occasionally very uncomfortable. The steering is also slightly vague around the straight-ahead.
Mind you, these complaints are nothing compared with the Twingo’s refinement. Even at 30mph, the noise is noticeable, and at 70mph it’s close to unbearable.
What are the Renault Twingo Renaultsport and Suzuki Swift Sport like inside?
Click the photos for a larger view of the Renault (left) and Suzuki (right) interiors
There’s nothing particularly sporty about the Swift beyond a few bits of red stitching, but there’s still a lot to appreciate.
It’s the airier and more spacious of the two, as well as providing more legroom and a better view out. The sports seats are very comfortable, and the driving position is easier to fine-tune, because the height of the seat is adjusted by a ratchet lever, and the steering wheel adjusts for both reach and rake.
It’s also easier to get into and out of the back of the Swift, because there’s a bigger gap to step through. However, it is irritating that only the passenger-side front returns to its original position after being slid forward.
In the back, there’s enough room for a couple of adults, and the boot is a decent size, too. It’s spoilt only by a high sill that makes loading awkward, and the fact that the rear seat leaves a big lip in the floor when it’s folded.
By contrast, the Twingo’s cabin looks more distinctive, with the big bulge of the speedo dominating the dashboard and the rev-counter visible through the steering wheel.
However, despite several sporty touches – white ventilation controls, for instance – the Twingo’s cabin isn’t as classy. In particular, the huge swathe of hard plastic across the top of the dash looks cheap.
There’s pretty much the same head- and legroom up front as there is in the Swift, and the Twingo has similarly figure-hugging sports seats, but the driving position is set higher.
The Renault also differs by having rear seats that slide back and forwards. If you push them right back, there’s more legroom than in the Swift – but precious little boot space.
Will they break the bank?
Renault Twingo Renaultsport 133
List price £13,565/ Target Price £12,783
Average mpg: 43.5
Suzuki Swift Sport
List price £13,499/ Target Price £12,587
Average mpg: 44.1
These cars are priced within just a few pounds of each other, and you should be able to get a few hundred pounds off each if you haggle.
Overall, though, the Swift is the better to own. First, it is more economical – saving more than £750 in fuel costs over three years – and secondly it also has stronger residual values, which will save another few hundred pounds over the same period.
It is also cheaper to insure and, to cap it all, its lower CO2 emissions mean that it will also incur lower tax bills if you run it as a company car.
Last, but not least, although both cars come pretty well equipped – with electric front windows, cruise control, Bluetooth and decent safety equipment – the Swift is again the better of the two.
It has climate control rather than the Twingo’s air-con, automatic headlights and keyless entry (both unavailable on the Renault), as well as having curtain airbags and a driver’s knee bag on top of the twin front and side ’bags that come with the Twingo.
These cars are priced within a few pounds of each other, and you'll be able to get discounts off each if you haggle
What Car? verdict
The Twingo is great fun to drive in the right circumstances. However, the Swift is more fun more of the time, and its smoother ride and greater refinement mean it has a greater breadth of talents. Throw in the fact that it’s also faster, more economical, better equipped and cheaper to insure, and the Swift is a clear winner here.
1st Suzuki Swift Sport
For: Easier to live with, and still brilliant fun; cheaper to insure
Against: Could look more sporty; more body lean
Verdict: A great hot hatch, and with much more to recommend it
2nd Renault Twingo Renaultsport 133 Cup
For: Sharper handling in smooth roads; distinctive cabin design
Against: Stiff ride, awful refinement; weaker residual values
Verdict: Fabulous fun – but not all the time