Feature

Used test: Renault Twingo Renault Sport vs Fiat 500 Abarth vs Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart

With a new, quicker Renault Twingo around the corner, we find out whether now's the time to buy a used Twingo Renault Sport, or if you'd be better off with one of its rivals

Words ByWhat Car? team

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Fiat 500 Abarth dashboard

What are they like inside?

Before their reincarnation as mean, moody hot hatches, these cars started life as cheap, cheerful runabouts. Flashes of metallic trim and bespoke gearknobs, pedals and steering wheels give each a sporty makeover, but the Fiat 500 Abarth’s interior looks the most appealing. The standard 500’s retro interior is already a feast for the eyes and the Abarth’s builds on this: it’s classy and stylish enough to justify its price premium.

Unless you’re a fan of grey plastic, the other two interiors offer little to excite. Both feel solid, and Renault has made more effort to inject a hot hatch feel into the Twingo, but they’re pretty dour.

The 500’s interior looks the part, but it’s a shame the driving position isn’t as sporty. The high-set seat makes you feel more like you’re sitting in an MPV than a hot hatch, and the lever to adjust it tilts only the rear of the cushion up or down. The footrest is also uncomfortably high, although most drivers will be too busy banging through the gears to notice.

The other two have a more useful range of adjustment for the driver’s seat, although all three steering wheels adjust for height only, not reach. The 500’s speedo is rather over-burdened with displays and needles, but otherwise the dashboard is as fuss-free as the Colt’s. The Twingo’s is simple enough, once you get used to the central digital speedo.

Practicality is always important in a hot hatch, and the Colt holds the advantage here. It has the most head and leg room, although there’s space for a tall driver and passenger in the front of all three. The big difference is in the back, where the Colt has the kind of space that puts some pseudo-MPVs to shame. It’s also the only car here with a central rear seat for a fifth person.

The Twingo is almost as comfortable, with good head room and two separate rear seats that can be slid a long way back. The 500 has the least rear room of this trio.

Boot space is the only practical area where the 500 trumps the others, although not by much. All three are big enough for a couple of overnight bags, but little else, though the Twingo’s rear seats can be slid forward to create a longer boot. All three feature back seats that can be tipped forward, too.

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