Renault Twingo long-term review

Find out how we're getting on with our long-term Renault Twingo. We're giving the infotainment system another chance and so far we're quite impressed...

25 June 2015
Renault Twingo long-term review

The third-generation Renault Twingo is the latest city car to join the What Car? fleet. It goes against the rest of the class with its rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive setup. Will that prove to be a positive? We're running one to find out.

The car Renault Twingo 1.0 SCe 70 Play
Run by Matthew Burrow, Content editor
Needs to Make light work of the daily commute; nip into parking spaces on crowded streets; handle longer trips on the motorway
Run by What Car? since February 2015

My rating 

What's it like?

You're not going to miss our Twingo. The optional Inca Yellow non-metallic paint, decals, white exterior pack and snub-nosed shape turn heads on suburban streets.

The third-generation Twingo is something of a departure from what has gone before it. The Twingo has grown into a five-door hatchback and looks like a modern-day version of the Renault 5.

By adding two rear doors, Renault has made the latest Twingo more practical than previous incarnations. There's room for four, a decent-sized boot and the rear seats, and even the front passenger seat, all fold. It's clever packaging.

Styling-wise, the interior isn't as eye-catching as the exterior. The digital central speedometer of the previous generation cars has been replaced by a traditionally located analogue unit. The dashboard is made of hard plastics. The air-conditioning controls are easy to use - and shared with other Renault and Dacia models - while the white highlights fitted to our car break up what could otherwise be a bit dull.

Where the Twingo really stands out, though, is that it's rear-engined and rear-wheel-drive whereas all other city cars - apart from the Smart Fortwo and Forfour which were developed with the Twingo - are front-engined and front-wheel-drive.

What impact does this change have? That's what we're running one to find out.

Daily driving

During day-to-day driving, you wouldn't know that the power is being delivered to the rear wheels. The Twingo feels just like a normal city car although it isn't quite as refined as the class leaders. One area where it trounces the competition is manoeuvrability. The Twingo has a tiny turning circle that makes navigating small car parks a breeze and means that turns in the road are dispatched with ease.

Front occupants have plenty of room. The rear seats are only for two people. Legroom isn't awful when compared to the competition, but it is worth noting that even in the most reclined position the seats are very upright and could prove to be uncomfortable for longer journeys.

Areas where the Twingo could be beaten by its rivals are performance and refinement. Our car is the 1.0 SCe 70 model, which comes with a 1.0-litre petrol engine that produces 69bhp and manages to power the Twingo to 60mph in a sedate 14.5 seconds.

We haven't attempted any motorway miles yet but if town driving is anything to go by, we're expecting the engine will have to be worked hard to keep up with the traffic. For urban use, it's fine, although the notchy five-speed gearbox, vague clutch and no foot rest by the clutch pedal could prove tiresome.

The Twingo isn't as refined as the competition, at idle there's a lot of vibration through the cabin. Frustrating when the Twingo will spend a lot of its life sat in commuter traffic.

Practicality

Before the Twingo arrived there were some concerns that the novel engine layout would hamper practicality. Fears of the boot being so small that it would basically be unusable are unfounded. The boot is 219 litres, which is less than the Hyundai i10 and the Volkswagen Up but it's still a decent size and there's no lip when loading heavier items.

Renault Twingo specification

Our Twingo is in mid-spec Play trim which adds a height-adjustable driving seat and air-conditioning to the basic entry-level spec. To that we've added £765 worth of options. Most of these are style- or storage-related (Inca Yellow non-metallic paint, £250; retro side decal, £150; exterior touch pack in white, £100; leather steering wheel, £75; storage pockets in rear doors, £20; storage areas under rear seats, £20) but we also added the premium audio system and electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors for £150.

R & Go infotainment system

One of the first things you notice when getting into our Twingo is the smartphone cradle jutting out from the dashboard. It's a clever idea. You can mount your smartphone, download the free R & Go app (click here for iTunes and here for Google) and have access to free navigation software as well as your music. Unfortunately, at first, it wasn't as plug-and-play as we hoped. The map software became corrupted and had to be reinstalled. 

However, I recently noticed that the R&Go app had been updated and I thought I'd better give it another go. I'm pleased to report that things are much better second time around.

The biggest improvement has been the sat-nav function. It no longer freezes the phone which is a great start plus it's a free service that allows the user to plug in full-length UK postcodes, on top of that it gives clear voice commands as well as traffic information.

I also like how easy it is to choose music to listen to. The music is displayed by album cover that makes swiping to find what you want to listen to a breeze.

There are a couple of things that I hope get sorted in the next update. First off, it's still not possible to use the voice control function of my iPhone with the system which means scrolling through a long list of names if I want to make a phone call. I try not to make calls when driving but if need be, it's useful to not have to take my eyes off the road for too long.

The other area that could do with some work is the need to go back to the main menu to change functions. It requires the user to take their hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road for too long. 

Sort these niggles out and I wouldn't be able to find fault with the system. What's even more impressive is that it's free.

Renault Twingo problems

Other than a temperamental R & Go app, we haven't experienced any problems to date. There is one niggle, though. The digital speedometer only displays km/h. If anyone knows if there's a way to change it to mph their help would be much appreciated.

Renault Twingo 1.0 SCe 70 Play statistics
Price £9995
Target Price Click here for the latest Target Price
Price as tested £10,735

Mileage to date 480 miles
Fuel economy 62.8mpg
True MPG TBA
Emissions/Company car tax 105g/km/14%
Cost per mile 30p
Insurance group 3
Typical quote £291