Renault Twingo hatchback
- Distinctive looks
- Decent luggage and passenger space
- Low running costs
- Expensive compared to rivals
- No five-door model
- Quality still patchy
At a glance
"The Renault Twingo is as spacious and practical as ever, but lacks the comfort and value of its major rivals."
The Renault Twingo competes with models such as the Volkswagen up! and the Hyundai i20, although it is starting to feel old against these newer rivals and a new model is set to be revealed at this year's Paris Motor Show in October.
Dwindling sales mean the Twingo is now only available with one engine, although it can compete with the best in class when it comes to CO2 emissions and fuel economy. The Renault is also limited to one trim level, which means it is well equipped, but also looks expensive compared to the more basic models offered by rival manufacturers.
The Renault got a minor facelift in 2011 and with it came new colours and a host of customisable options designed to make your Twingo stand out from the crowd.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Rivals are cheaper to run; no tax-free version
One limiting factor for the Renault Twingo is that it is only available with a 1.2-litre petrol engine. It's capable of up to 60.1mpg and produces 108g/km of C02 emissions for an annual road tax bill of just £20.
That should be economical enough for most, but the Renault's lack of a diesel engine means the Twingo can’t compete with rivals such as the Hyundai i20 1.4CRDi. That car qualifies for road tax exemption and can return up to 76.3mpg, although admittedly you’ll have to cover a lot of miles to recoup the higher purchase price of the Hyundai.
Interior & comfort
The suspension is a bit stiff and sound insulation could be better
Although it was facelifted in 2011, the current Renault Twingo has essentially existed in its current form since 2007, and that shows in some key areas. Interior noise is one of them, and while rivals such as the Volkswagen up! can handle trips on the motorway while keeping their passengers comfortable, the Renault's interior suffers from a lot of wind and engine noise, which makes the cabin a wearing place to be when travelling at speed.
Adding to the Twingo's woes is suspension that at times feels uncomfortable and a driving position that doesn’t offer as much adjustment as some rivals.
Practicality & boot space
Versatile interior is let down by three-door layout
Space inside the Renault Twingo is limited by the car's small size but there is a decent amount of space up front.
Fitting in the back might not be as hard as you’d think either, as the Twingo gets a rear seat that can be folded backwards and forwards. Put the rear seat as far back as it will go, though, and the boot shrinks to a puny 165 litres from its maximum capacity of 285 litres. The car also suffers from a tall lip in the boot that makes sliding heavy items difficult and the rear seats don’t fold down completely flat, either. Putting the back seats down increases maximum boot space to 959 litres.
Storage areas in the Twingo include a pair of cupholders in front of the gearstick, a glovebox, and small door bins.
Reliability & safety
Revised Twingo feels better, but it’s still no class leader
The Renault Twingo didn’t feature in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, either in 2013 or 2014, but as a manufacturer Renault did climb six places in 2013 to finish 21st out of 32 firms. In general, though, cars such as the Volkswagen up! and Skoda Citigo feel more solidly built, and have a better reputation for reliability. Pick of the rival bunch is the Skoda Citigo, which came second in this year's Driver Power survey.
In terms of safety the Renault pays for its old design and it was only awarded four stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP, compared to the Volkswagen up!'s five stars. The Renault does get front and side airbags, but electronic stability control is a cost option.
Engines, drive & performance
Twingo is happy in town
While the Twingo's noisy interior means it is best kept away from motorways, it is surprisingly fun to drive and Renault's experience with quick models such as the Renaultsport Clio and the Renaultsport Twingo (it's no longer built) really shows. That means the Twingo doesn’t suffer from too much body lean and also has plenty of grip.
The Twingo is most at home in town, though, where the low speeds see to it that there is not too much noise inside, and the car's small dimensions make it perfect for sneaking into small parking spaces. Only having one choice of engine means that 0-60mph in 12 seconds is as fast as the Twingo will do.
Price, value for money & options
All cars offer a basic specification, but now with more personalisation
There may be only one model in the Renault Twingo range, but that does mean it comes well equipped. Standard-fit items include electric front windows, air conditioning, and a 12v socket for charging electrical items such as your mobile phone. Unlike newer models, the Twingo cannot be specced with an integrated sat-nav system, but buyers can choose options such as a rollback fabric sunroof, rear parking sensors, and a digital radio.
The Twingo's due for replacement quite soon, which could mean there will be some tempting last-minute deals aimed at selling the last examples of the existing model. Do bear in mind, however, that the new car's launch will probably harm the value of the outgoing model if and when you decide to sell it.
What the others say
"Around town the Twingo is nippy, and with lots of glass it’s easy to see out, making parking in tight gaps simple. The steering has good weighting and if you hustle the little Renault through bends you’ll be surprised at the level of grip and lack of body roll. But the ride is on the firm side."
"The Twingo is a surprisingly mature small car, with plenty of scope for personalisation and space for four. The Renaultsport versions add extra zip."
"Outside, the front end of New Twingo has taken its inspiration specifically from this new design approach. On the bonnet, the Renault diamond is both bigger and significantly more upright. Like the first-generation Twingo, the newcomer features an expressive and appealing front end. Its dynamic, playful character is underlined by its fog lights and round sidelights which are now positioned next to the grille."
"The new car, in dealerships from February, will be eligible for the new Renault 4+ programme. Worth £900, the 4+ scheme offers customers a four-year/100,000 mile warranty, free servicing for four years/48,000 miles and four years roadside cover, amongst others. It launches on February 1st."