IOL Motoring Staff
Paris, France - Renault's brand-spanking-new Twingo is a city car that really puts a smile on our dial at the mere thought of it. In fact, it's such a radical departure from its rather staid second-generation predecessor that we're surprised they even kept the name.
Not only does the new Twingo assert itself on the street with a taut design that harks back to the charismatic Renault 5, but it also switches to a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive configuration that should provide an entertaining drive.
Renault describes its new baby as an “innovative and agile car that is great fun to drive.” Given the high development costs associated with creating a brand new rear-engined model series, Renault developed the platform in conjunction with Daimler, which will use it to underpin the next-generation two- and four-seat Smart models.
While we are certainly grinning from ear to ear at the prospect of taking this little critter for a spin, Renault points out that the rear-engined layout is not just for the sake of agility. It also allows for a more spacious cabin, by freeing up the front end, and makes for a considerably tighter turning circle.
To benefit both practicality and agility, designers placed the wheels at the car's extreme corners and the result is that it has the kind of wheelbase and spacious interior that you'd expect to find in the next segment up. However, we can't see that for ourselves just yet as Renault has yet to release any interior pictures.
A small engine block also frees up space although Renault won't be going into any detail about the engines until the car's official unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show in early March.
Also making it more practical than previous Twingos is its five-door configuration - yes, look closely at the corners of the rear doors and you'll see Alfa-style hidden door handles, as per the latest Clio.
RENAULT 5 INSPIRATION
The Twingo is an interesting mixture of design inspirations. There's a definite hark-back to the cheerful old Renault 5 in its 'big eye' headlights and the rake of its tailgate and its muscular shoulder line will no doubt evoke memories of the rear-engined Renault 5 Turbo. Yet it's still a thoroughly modern design that drew much of its cheeky spirit from the recent Twin'Run and Twin'Z concept cars.
The choice of exterior colours is a bit limited, but they are rather vibrant 'pop' colours (light blue, white, yellow and red) and you can personalize the car by choosing from a catalogue of custom door mirrors, decals and protective mouldings.
The new Twingo is a “fun, playful and vibrant city car,” as Renault's Head of Industrial Design, Laurens van den Acker, puts it.
Sadly the new Twingo is not planned for South Africa in the near future. Let's hold thumbs that it eventually comes this way.