Renault Twingo Renaultsport hatchback (2008-2013)
"The Renaultsport Twingo is loads of fun thanks to its direct, accurate steering and agile cornering."
- Good value
- Small but punchy engine
- Great handling
If you fancy the look of the Renault Twingo but have a need for a bit more speed than the standard model offers, then the performance-focused Renaultsport Twingo should do the trick, as it’s one of the most powerful city cars available in the UK. It’s powered by a 133bhp 1.6-litre engine, has a more aggressive exterior style and firmer suspension that allows it to make quick changes of direction on bendy roads without losing grip or control. You can also choose the optional Cup chassis pack that stiffens up the suspension even more to make the Twingo even more agile than it already is. There isn’t much else available in this price range that's quite as much fun and offers as much equipment and accessories – only the Suzuki Swift Sport runs it a close second. It only comes in a three-door body style and one specification, however.
MPG, running costs & CO2
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that the RS Twingo is a performance car, so if you’re looking for really low running costs, you’re barking up the wrong turbocharged tree. Renault’s official fuel economy figure is 43.5mpg, and it claims CO2 emissions of 150g/km, which puts the Twingo in a fairly high road-tax bracket. In the real world, you’re more likely to see fuel economy of about 30mpg, given that most people drawn to this kind of car aren’t very likely to drive it with economy foremost in their thoughts. However, it has a cheap price tag and insurance is cheaper than on a lot of other performance-focused rivals, so it’s not all bad news. Only at the petrol station - where you will start to feel at home.
Engines, drive & performance
While you do get a lot of speed out of the 133bhp 1.6-litre engine in the Renaultsport Twingo, it does need the driver to hold on to each gear as long as they can just to get the most performance out of the car. Driving like that can make life very noisy, but change up a gear too soon and the Twingo can feel decidedly sluggish. It can accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds, which is pretty good for this class, however, and you’ll certainly have a lot of fun driving it through corners on winding country roads. Plus, stiff suspension and direct steering make the Twingo feel very light and fast indeed.
Interior & comfort
If you’re after high levels of comfort in your motoring, then it’s probably best to avoid the RS Twingo. As with many performance cars, the suspension is so firm that you will feel virtually every rough bump in the road directly inside the car. The engine is pretty noisy as well, and while the exhaust does make a sportier sound than normal, it still gets awfully noisy and irritating at times. Plus, there is a lot of road and wind noise when you get up to motorway speeds, which are likely to make you turn the stereo all the way up just so you don’t have listen to it, so forget any road trip banter in this car. It’s basically not a comfortable car at all.
Practicality & boot space
It’s a three-door and it’s performance-focused – the Renaultsport Twingo was never going to be the most practical car on the market. So, access to the back isn’t good, but the rear seats can be adjusted backwards and forwards, depending on whether you want to increase luggage space or create more legroom for the passengers. That helps to boost practicality quite a lot, but with the seats pushed all the way back, the boot only offers a meagre 165 litres of space. With the standard-fit split-fold seats in their standard position, you get 230 litres, and with them folded down it expands to 959 litres, which is more than in the Suzuki Swift Sport. It's pretty much a choice between carrying adults or their bags, as you can’t really do both at the same time. You do also get a range of storage cubbies inside the car, but the glove compartment is way too small because Renault cut costs but not moving the car’s fuse box when it converted the car to right-hand drive.
Reliability & safety
Renault managed to lift themselves off the bottom of the manufacturers rankings in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, placing 21st out of 32, a full six places over its 2012 finish. This is good, because it shows how hard Renault has been working to reverse its iffy reputation over the last decade. It came last for reliability in 2012, so getting off the deck and coming out fighting will only give buyers more confidence. As such, more recent Renault models have proved themselves to be fairly reliable, so you can expect the Renaultsport Twingo to benefit from this uplift in quality, even though it doesn’t feature in the poll’s top 150 cars. Prior to its 2012 update, few problems were reported for the Twingo and the update was more about changing the styling than anything else, so it should continue to work well. There was one recall, but that was in 2008 so has been addressed. Safety is a bit more of a concern, with the Twingo only getting four stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, which may be only one star short of the highest possible score, but it has now become standard for virtually everything but the most bargain-basement models (yes, Dacia, you) to get the maximum score. However, it does come fitted with electronic stability control, front, side and curtain airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchor points and anti-lock brakes all as standard safety equipment.
Price, value for money & options
The Renaultsport Twingo is actually reasonable value for money, simply because of the level of performance and the amount of equipment and accessories you get for the purchase price. It comes fitted with electric windows, cruise control, air-conditioning, Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity, alloy wheels and central locking all as standard equipment. Its price is more or less identical to the Suzuki Swift Sport and both have similar equipment lists too, so if nothing else it is exactly how much you’d expect to pay for this type of performance car.