The debut at the Paris Motor Show in October 1992 could not have been more spectacular. When Renault removed the cover from the new Twingo, a murmur went through the crowd before the flashbulb storm began. The world had never seen anything like it: a small car with a futuristic biodesign MPV concept, a radical departure from the traditional shapes of the segment and the company.

Despite its beautiful exterior, the Twingo was a revolutionary that redefined its segment. Women drivers in particular could not resist its irresistible charm. All the more so because it proved reliable on a day-to-day basis, supported by constant development by Renault.

Gallery: Renault Twingo (1993-2005)

The Twingo, whose name is a mixture of twist, swing and tango, was launched in early 1993. In countries such as Germany, for example, more than 500,000 units were sold. In total, some 2.42 million units rolled off the production line.

The history of the Renault Twingo is peppered with anecdotes. Inspiration came from Poland, retirement came to him in Colombia and he had a very special gift. In 1995, a Twingo was the Socialist Party's farewell gift to outgoing French President François Mitterrand. He could choose between a blue and a red Twingo. Mitterrand, who was a Socialist, chose the red one.

Renault Twingo (1993-2007)

The origins of the striking monocoque shape can be traced to the Matra P41 studio (Matra had also designed the Espace), the Renault Vesta II and the Beskid 106 from Poland. The most striking features of the first-generation Twingo were the friendly front end and the three air intakes on the bonnet.

With its clever space concept, the Twingo followed in the tradition of the Renault 4, whose legacy it took over along with the Kangoo, which appeared later. The latter took up the tradition of the R4 van, and at the front there were certain similarities with the Twingo.

Renault accompanied the Twingo's commercial debut in 1993 with imaginative advertising, but the little car was not as nimble as the marketing: under the bonnet was a 53 bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine, which had already been used in 1972 in the Renault 5. From May 1996, a modern 1.2-litre engine with up to 74 bhp was available.

Renault Twingo (1993-2007)

Typical of the early Twingo were the turquoise elements in the passenger compartment. What looks like turquoise was officially called "apple green", while the hazard lights were supposed to resemble a clown's nose. The central digital speedometer remained a typical feature for 20 years. On the other hand, the seats were criticised for being too short (the bench). To keep its finger on the pulse of the times, from 1994 onwards the company brought out a new Twingo collection every two years, based on the fashion trends of the day.

The recipe for success of the first Twingo was its ingenious blend of youthful charm and unique versatility. At just 3.43 metres long, the little car offered space in abundance. A special feature was the rear seat bench, which could be moved longitudinally by 170 millimetres.

Depending on use, the rear seat offered ample foot room or there was up to 261 litres of cargo volume. This above-average amount of space was made possible by a combination of a long wheelbase (2.34 metres), a good width (1.63 metres) and an outstanding height (1.42 metres).

Renault Twingo (1993-2007)

The range of the first Twingo in 1993 seemed quite clear. As explained earlier, the power source of the cheeky little car was exclusively a 53 bhp 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine, whose origins dated back to the first Renault 5 of 1972. The list of extras included just two items: air conditioning and a folding roof.

It was not until later that Twingo fans could order the much more powerful 1.2-litre 16V with 74 bhp, in addition to the thoroughly revised basic engine, which had increased its output to 59 bhp. In addition, the range-topping Initiale variant finally included details such as air conditioning, radio with CD player and leather upholstery, which was otherwise reserved for much larger cars. A navigation system was even available on request.

Renault also improved the Twingo again and again during its 15-year life cycle, for example with the Quickshift-5 gearbox, the innovative automated manual transmission that lacked a clutch pedal. Later, two front and two side airbags were added. In the summer of 1998, the Twingo underwent a comprehensive update (Stage II), with repainted and modified front and rear bumpers, new interior dashboard and technical modifications.

Renault Twingo (1993-2007)
Renault Twingo (1993-2007)

At the end of 2000, the Twingo underwent a complete under-body upgrade (safety technology, brakes and engine) as part of Stage III. In autumn 2004, the Twingo received another slight facelift (Stage IV, recognisable by the Renault diamond on the tailgate.

In August 2004, the 8-valve D7F engine was replaced by the 16-valve D4F 708. Power output of the basic engine remained unchanged at 59 bhp. It was not until March 2007 that Renault introduced the second generation Twingo. However, it had lost much of its original charm.

Renault Twingo (1993-2007)
Renault Twingo (1993-2007)

Of course, the first Twingo was also happily modified. First, Pascal Dragotto, a specialist from the south of France, lightened the interior and transmission of the little car and used a 2,200 bhp aircraft turbine instead.

Other Twingo fans transformed the cheeky Frenchman into a pick-up, a rolling sound factory, a seafaring catamaran or sent it to the racetracks. One of the most brazen projects was probably that of Lazareth. In this case, a 3.5-litre V8 (sourced from Rover) was installed behind the front seats. Visually, the French city car was given a wider body.

Gallery: Renault Twingo (1993-2005)