Renault’s latest generation Twingo is all back to front: the engine’s in the boot and drive goes to the rear wheels. Confused? You shouldn’t be, as the French firm’s logic is surprisingly sound, writes the Press Association’s senior motoring correspondent Iain Dooley.
This new Twingo might buck convention in city car circles, but the upshot to everything not being where it should be is a more spacious cabin and improved refinement.
There’s a reason why the Twingo’s engine is in the boot, and it isn’t to excite keen drivers. No, the logic behind the rear engine and rear-wheel drive layout was to liberate more cabin space. And it’s no gimmick, as Renault’s engineers have shaved 10cm off the previous car’s length yet have been able to extend this car’s wheelbase by 12cm to ensure this five-door car is a genuine four-seater – just. Furthermore, you can fold the rear seats plus, if you pick the right option, fold the front passenger seat forwards to liberate a whopping 2.3 metres of load space. Try doing that in an average supermini.
With no engine up front, the Twingo’s modest fascia is less bulky than normal. This in turn boosts forward visibility. And with no front driveshafts present, the car’s turning circle is smaller than anything else in its class.
Like the car, engine choice is equally compact. The flagship 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol motor also powers the Clio, but for the Twingo this 90 horsepower motor has been modified so it fits under the boot floor. The result is a punchy response and ample power, even for modest motorway trips.
This latest generation Twingo is no hair shirt econo-box, so don’t expect Tata Nano rock bottom prices. You’re looking at 11-and-a-bit thousand pounds for the high power model, although this does come with enough kit to embarrass a supermini from the class above.
In reality the more popular 70 horsepower cars strike a better balance of affordability and luxury, with all the safety basics covered plus DAB radio and mid range models adding air-con for a shade under 10 grand.
This car summed up in a single word: Unconventional.
If this car was a spaceship . . . it would be something like a mini TARDIS – bigger on the inside than the outside.