Review: Renault Twingo GT

Review: Renault Twingo GT
Review: Renault Twingo GT

Anyone who visited France in the early 1990s will be familiar with the original Twingo. A weird, bubbly, frog-eyed micro-MPV with a silly name, it was no great surprise it was never imported to the UK.

The second model to take the Twingo name is a slightly less peculiar looking vehicle. It’s a touch tall and ungainly but slots obviously and comfortably into the city car segment.

While the standard car is fairly humdrum in appearance, I’ve been testing the “hot” GT version, which certainly looks the part. The test car came in the fantastic Blaze Orange, with matt black go-faster stripes and body detail. A deep chin spoiler, some sharp-looking 17-inch GT Twin-Air alloys, a cheeky little roof spoiler and dual tailpipes complete the sporty look.

Renault Twingo GT

Price: £15,200
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Power: 109-bhp
Torque: 125lb/ft
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Top speed: 113mph
0-62mph: 9.6 seconds
Economy: 54.3mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 115g/km

From every angle this looks like a lively, fun car but to me, its best angle is from the back, where it evokes childhood memories of the Renault 5 Turbo. There’s the large rear window and a narrow roof leading down to a sudden bulge around the wheel arches – reminiscent of the ridiculous intakes of the original. Even the taillights are a similar shape to later 5s’.

So it looks the part, and it sounds it too. As with all Twingos the GT is powered by a revvy 1.0-litre three-pot mounted over and driving the rear wheels. In the GT this has been remapped and the turbo revised to produce 108bhp. Despite its small capacity and output the engine sounds fruity and sporty. Although it does intrude a fair bit into the cabin the noise is involving rather than irritating.

The engine’s performance matches its sound, it’s lively and revs so quickly you need to be quick through the gears to avoid the limiter. Despite this, it’s always willing and is the sort of engine that encourages you to push on.

Sadly, the handling and steering can’t match the pace of the engine. You expect light steering in city cars but in the Twingo it feels too disconnected to make quick driving fun. What’s more, despite some chassis tinkering by the RenaultSport boffins, there’s still too much pitching and wallowing to make this a truly fun drive on the open road.

The Twingo also has a bit of a wind problem. Firstly, there’s plenty of wind noise intruding into the cabin. Again, it’ll take you back to the old days of hot hatches but not in a good way. Secondly it doesn’t like crosswinds. The weather was, admittedly, foul when I drove the Twingo but several times a sudden gust sent the tiny car lurching across the carriageway.

Realistically, the Twingo GT will feel much more at home darting around the city, where the lively engine will keep up with the cut and thrust of traffic and not too much will be asked of the chassis.

Keeping things calm will also let you enjoy the GT’s healthy equipment list more too. As befitting a high-end model it gets part-leather seats, auto lights, wipers and climate control, cruise control and parking sensors. My test car added the Techno Pack R-Link with a seven-inch nav and media touchscreen. All this is presented in a fresh, youthful cabin with chunky features and great-looking contrast stitching and panels.

In the end, the Twingo GT is a case of style over substance, with its sporty looks and engine let down by some lacklustre handling. Nonetheless, if you want a great looking car for nipping around a city centre, it’s an attractive, if expensive, option.

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