What's the used Renault Twingo hatchback like?
The layout of a small car is usually a straightforward affair of engine in the front, powering the front wheels, and a small interior a small boot. Deviating from this norm costs money, and that's not the done thing when making a city car.
But with the help of Smart, Renault was able to come up with an unconventional new car. The Renault Twingo shares its platform with the Smart Forfour, meaning you have a car with its engine in the rear (under the boot floor) driving the rear wheels. The idea is that this frees up space for a bigger interior without compromising crash safety.
The Twingo comes with a choice of three-cylinder petrol engines: an entry-level 69bhp 1.0 SCe, an 89bhp turbocharged 0.9 TCe and a 108bhp version of the 0.9-litre engine that's used exclusively in the range-topping GT model.
Out on the road, the Twingo isn’t very refined; there's a bit too much wind and road noise at speed and the ride isn’t particularly smooth. The Hyundai i10 has quieter road manners and is better suited to the odd motorway journey. The manual gearbox in the Twingo is a bit notchy, too, and isn’t as slick as the one in the Volkswagen Up.
The steering isn’t the Twingo’s best feature, either. The 1.0 SCe has rather vague steering, and although the more powerful 0.9 TCe and GT models get variable-ratio steering (the aim of which is to make the car feel more agile at town speeds and more stable on the motorway), it still doesn’t inspire much confidence at higher speeds.
On the upside, body control is reasonably good and there is plenty of grip. The GT has firmer sports suspension that doesn’t help the Twingo's ride quality and is best avoided.
As far as trim levels are concerned, the range begins with Expression. This gets the basics and nothing more: daytime running lights, DAB radio, Bluetooth, hill start assist, electronic stability control, remote central locking and front electric windows. Play trim adds to this with driver’s seat height adjustment, air conditioning and 15in alloy wheels.
Dynamique adds cruise control, front foglights and a leather steering wheel. Dynamique S goes even further upmarket by fitting part-leather seats, 16in diamond-cut alloy wheels, aluminium pedals and stripes for the grille, doors and door mirrors in either red, white or blue.
The top-of-the-range GT comes with 17in alloy wheels, twin exhausts, doorsills with 'Renault Sport' written on them and, to top it all off, a metal gearknob. GT cars are only worth seeking out if you really want the most powerful engine.
The boot floor is much higher than it is in most small cars because of where the engine is. This offers some benefits, though, because you don't have to deal with a loading lip, so slotting heavy bags or a suitcase into the Twingo is a breeze.
When you fold the rear seatbacks down, they lie flat. Even the front passenger seatback can fold down onto its base to enable much longer items to be transported. The downside is that when all the seats are up, the boot is smaller than those of the Seat Mii, Volkswagen Up and Skoda Citigo, even when the rear seatbacks are put in a more upright position to increase overall capacity.
Four adults can fit in the Twingo easily – quite a feat in a small car. There are plenty of pockets dotted around the interior, and some models could even be specified with a couple of storage areas under the rear seat – a good place to hide items away from prying eyes.
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