Co-developed with Daimler's Smart ForFour, the third-generation Renault Twingo is unusual for being rear-engined and rear-wheel drive. With five doors as standard, the layout allows for a car with impressive manoeuvrability and cabin space, if quite a small boot. Launched in 2014, it was joined by a more sporty GT variant (which takes on the Up GTI) in 2017. As a sub-£10,000 city car, its rivals include the Fiat 500, Citroen C1, Skoda Citigo, VW Up and Hyundai i10.
|Body Style: Supermini||Seats:5||MRP from £9,545 - £13,755|
Did you know? The Renault Twingo is manufactured alongside the Smart ForFour in Novo Mesto, Slovenia.
You might hope that the Twingo would be great fun to drive given the rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive set-up, but it's actually not. Limited adjustment to the driving position, odd steering weight and tiresome refinement outweigh the fun you can have making the most of its impressive turning circle and admiring its cute styling. Mind you, the Twingo is good value, is cheap to run and pay for on monthly finance, is a doddle to drive around town and looks as good as anything this side of the Fiat 500, so the appeal is clear. Just be aware that a VW Up (and Seat Mii or Skoda Citigo) or Hyundai i10 are both more practical and more fun to drive.
Tight turning circle
Great deals and finance costs
We Don't Like
Restricted luggage space
Disappointing handling and refinement
Before the original Mini rewrote the small car rulebook in 1959, rear-engined runabouts were not unusual. Since then, they’ve become a rarity, so the decision to launch the Twingo with its engine in the back was brave and should be applauded. There’s no denying that the car is distinctive and cute, and having the engine where it is allows for the best turning circle short of a Smart ForTwo.
Its chic styling is a nod to the Renault 5 and much-loved Mk1 Twingo of 1993. Its cheeky front end reflects a fun character and, as with the rest of the Renault family, the diamond badge is bolder than ever. At the rear, its wide haunches are a throwback to the iconic Renault 5 Turbo, while disguised rear door handles are meant to give a coupe-like appearance. Finally, the black glass bootlid and small spoiler give the Twingo that extra bit of joie de vivre. There's a host of personalisation option, with eye-catching colours and decals to make it your own, too.
The flagship Twingo GT is easily recognisable thanks to its 17-inch wheels, lowered ride height, air intakes, twin exhaust pipes and trademark orange body colour (if specified).
Inside, the Twingo is almost as funky as on the outside. And there are plenty of customisation options available to make it stand out even more.
A large round speedo dominates the binnacle ahead of the driver, while the centre console can either feature the R&Go Smartphone application (you fix your phone to a cradle and turn it into a touchscreen dashboard with full connectivity) or you can specify the R-Link system, which incorporates a seven-inch touchscreen.
The seats are comfortable enough, but there's no height adjustment for the driver's seat on the entry-level car, and the floor is high so your knees are bent up uncomfortably, which'll see you having achey legs quite quickly whether you're driver or passenger. The steering wheel doesn't adjust for reach, either – it only moves up and down - which is quite common in this class but even so there's no doubting that a Hyundai i10 or Skoda Citigo are much more comfortable. Finally, it should be noted that the Twingo's hinged rear windows pop out rather than wind down, which will be a bit rubbish if you're stuck in the back on a hot day. Especially if you've got a poverty-spec car that doesn't even get air-con as standard. At least passenger access is good thanks to the rear doors, but it's easy to trip over the high sill as you get in.
Thanks to the layout and wheel-at-each-corner design, the Twingo is 100mm shorter than its predecessor at 3.59 metres, but has a 120mm longer wheelbase (2.49 metres) and 330mm more cabin room.
Renault claims that the Twingo is the only five-door car in its segment with a folding front passenger seat as standard, so that with the rear seats down, the cabin is long enough to take narrow items of up to 2.3 metres in length.
Luggage capacity is a modest 219 litres, and the boot floor is high since the engine has to fit underneath it, but that space can be extended to 980 litres by folding the 50:50-split rear seats.
There is also 52 litres of stowage space within the cabin, including a removable 2.6-litre compartment at the bottom of the centre console, 29 litres beneath the front seats – with nets available to hold items in place – and a 6.4-litre glovebox.
Unlike some rear-engined cars of old, there is no extra storage under the bonnet. This area is only for access to top-up screenwash, oil, etc.
|Min: 219 litres|
Max: 980 litres
Connectivity is standard in the Twingo via the smartphone-operated R&GO system, which (thanks to a universal cradle) turns your smartphone into a touchscreen for the dashboard. Via a downloadable app, users can access a variety of navigation, telephone, multimedia and trip computer functions.
The navigation is provided by CoPilot and the maps are downloaded onto the smartphone, meaning the driver does not use up data allowance while driving, or of course you can just use your phone's standard maps App.
A £600 Techno pack is available on all trims except the entry-level Expression. It includes the R-Link multimedia system (seven-inch touchscreen, TomTom Live navigation, FM/AM/DAB radio, 2x35w speakers, Bluetooth audio streaming, hands-free calls, USB and Aux sockets, voice control and vehicle applications), plus a reversing camera and parking sensors. It's worth adding as the App can be a bit hit-and-miss, and that's a lot of kit for the money if you can stretch to it, although if you're after a really decent fitted nav and infotainment system in this class, a high-spec Kia Picanto is a better option as the screen is easier to use.
The Twingo is available with a trio of three-cylinder petrol engines – a 69hp 1.0-litre, plus 89bhp and 108bhp versions of the turbocharged 0.9-litre.
The entry-level SCe 70 takes 14.5 seconds to reach 62mph, tops out at 94mph and emits 112g/km of CO2. The TCe 90 has a top speed of 103mph, a quicker 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds and CO2 emissions below the magic 100g/km. A six-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox is available with this engine, otherwise all units have a five-speed manual box.
The most powerful engine, the TCe 110, is the quickest in the range - appropriately as it's only available in the sportier GT model. Its stats are 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds, a top speed of 113mph and CO2 emissions of 115g/km.
The smallest SCe 70 engine is fine for around town, but if you regularly tackle longer journeys, including spells on motorways, the turbocharged TCe 90 is a better option.
It’s fair to say that both these engines are nippy, especially around town, but both feel a little underwhelming. If you want more power and fun, then go for the GT. It’s noticeably faster and sounds great, too. It’s still no hot hatch - an Up GTI is way more fun and is faster to 62mph - but it’s as close as Renault can get, given the tiny space for an engine at the rear.
Handling and comfort
The Twingo is easy to drive, especially around town, and its turning circle of just 8.59 metres is remarkable. You sit fairly high in the car and visibility is good. Overall, it handles fine and feels pretty well planted, but it’s no mini-Porsche 911. The steering feels rubbery in its response and is short of much sense of connection, even in the GT, although there is fun to be had in throwing the semi-hot GT into corners with real gusto given that it sticks quite gamely. You gave to drive it harder than this sort of car really warrants before you find the fun it can offer, where rivals like the Up GTI are more fun, more of the time.
Ride comfort is okay in the standard GT but it's always quite unsettled over rough surfaces, if not too crashy. The firmer GT is verging pretty uncomfortable a lot of the time; again, the damping stops it from feeling very harsh over potholes but it's constantly bumping and skittering over the road surface and body lean is quite noticeable despite the sportier suspension.
Whichever engine you go for there’s a fair amount of road and wind noise in the cabin, quite a lot of vibration through the pedals, and the Twingo wanders about quite a lot at motorway speeds which means you're constantly inputting steering corrections, all of which makes this a very tiring motorway car. Still, it feels perfectly at home around town which is exactly what this car is about. The narrow body and tiny turning circle mean that you can fit it into unlikely parking spaces with ease, and nip through gaps that would grind most traffic to a halt.
There is an automatic gearbox on offer in the TCe 90 but we're yet to drive it. Otherwise all the Twingo models get a five-speed manual gearbox with a rather stodgy but light shift movement.
Ultimately, the Twingo is a decent city car but it's much more compromised out of town than other small cars like the VW Up, Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto and Citroen C1.
Recommended engine: TCe 90 manual
The Renault Twingo was awarded a slightly disappointing four out of five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, scoring 78% for adult occupant protection and 81% for child occupant protection. Safety equipment includes ESC, Isofix child seat mounts in the back, hill-start assist, four airbags and optional lane-departure warning. There are Isofix child seat mounts in the back, and an additional mount is available on the front passenger seat as an option (which also adds heated front seats).
However, you don't get AEB autonomous city braking on the Twingo, which is increasingly available on key rivals like the Skoda Citigo, and you can't have an alarm or a spare wheel.
Personalisation is one of the Twingo’s trump cards, and there are numerous ways to make your car look distinctive.
There are eight basic colours, with standard white being the only free one, while most will opt for one of the more head-turning colours ranging from pastel blue to a fiery metallic orange, albeit your choices are limited depending on what trim you choose.
In addition to the colours, you can specify one of six Personality Packs, which are a series of funky exterior/interior combinations with names such as Fashion, Party, Urban and Casual Chic, and Retro Racer. These add decals, continue the chosen paint colour inside with matching plastics and fabrics, and offer body-coloured door mirror surrounds and trim strips. There are some fantastic wheel and decal options offered independently of the Personality Packs, too.
The GT is available in Blaze Orange metallic paint or a choice of Crystal White, Lunar Grey or Diamond Black. All of the shades have optional contrasting aircraft-inspired stripes. There is also a Sport exterior pack that adds orange or black detailing to the front grille, side door strips, door mirrors and rear spoiler. Inside, the colour scheme echoes the exterior.
There are five trim levels: Expression, Play, Dynamique, Dynamique S and GT, an an Iconic Special Edition brings an extra fashionable take on the tiny Renault.
The Expression comes with the R&GO application, which turns your smartphone into a touchscreen, and enables full connectivity. Other features include EBA (emergency brake assist), ESC (electronic stability control), HSA (hill-start assist), remote central locking, tyre-pressure warning, 15-inch grey wheel trims, front electric windows and daytime LED running lights. Avoid this, as you don't even get air-con and if you want this car youw want it to look cool, and that requires alloy wheels.
The Play version adds air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and steering wheel, plus 15-inch two-tone wheel trims.
The Dynamique is the best option if you want to keep the cost down but still have lots of style and comfort. In addition to the features on Play models, Dynamique adds 15-inch alloys, pinstripe shoulder-line decals, front foglamps, electric heated door mirrors, cruise control, lane-departure warning, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshift knob, white instrument backlighting, a folding key and storage pockets in the rear doors.
Dynamique S steps that up with 16-inch diamond-cut alloys, aluminium pedals, part-leather upholstery and orange interior personalisation. Dynamique S customers can also specify a bodykit and GT options, including tinted rear windows, automatic lights and front wipers, fog lights with cornering function and rear parking sensors.
The Twingo GT’s specification “blends sportiness with luxury”. As standard, it offers automatic climate control, automatic lights and front wipers, fog lights with cornering function and rear parking sensors.
Exterior features on the GT include tinted rear windows and a bodykit that consists of side skirts, extended wheelarches and a rear diffuser. Inside, the colour scheme echoes the exterior. Orange trim details feature on the part-leather upholstery, the air vents and the base of the gear lever. You also get Renaultsport-badged door sills, aluminium pedals and a ‘Sport’ gearknob.
Options worth considering across the Twingo range include an electric fabric-folding panoramic sunroof, heated front seats and the Techno Pack with R-Link multimedia system – which incorporates a seven-inch touchscreen with TomTom Live navigation, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, voice control, a reversing camera and parking sensors.
Size and Dimensions
The Twingo is roughly the same size as city car rivals such as the Peugeot 108, Skoda Citigo and Fiat 500. Thanks to its rear-engined layout, the Twingo feels spacious for such a small car and offers good visibility.
Max towing weight without brake
The Twingo’s small three-cylinder petrol engines – a 70hp 1.0-litre, along with 90hp and 110hp versions of a turbocharged 0.9-litre – are all pretty economical, with low CO2 emissions.
The entry-level SCe 70 is good for a claimed 57mpg and emits 112g/km of CO2, while the TCe 90 can manage 67mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km. The more powerful TCe 110 is good for 53.3mpg and emits 115g/km.
The Renault Twingo is cheap to insure, ranging from group 2, up to 11 for the GT.
Reliability and servicing
The Twingo is warranted for four years or 100,000 miles (the first two years have no mileage limit). There is also a three-year paint warranty and 12 years’ cover against corrosion. Four years’ roadside assistance cover is included, too.
When bought on Renault Selections Finance, four years’ (or 48,000 miles) servicing is thrown in. Renault also offers two- and three-year service plans from £469. Servicing is required once a year or every 12,500 miles. The timing chain is maintenance-free, which helps to reduce servicing costs.
While the Twingo can’t compete with bargain basement cars such as the Dacia Sandero and Suzuki Celerio, there aren’t many funky city runabouts with so much space for less than £10,000.
Starting at less than £10k (or realistically closer to £8k given the cash offers Renault will provide) for the entry-level Expression and ending up with the GT at around £14k, the Twingo range is competitively priced, although go easy on the options available. More importantly, it's got great finance deals that Renault routinely bolster with dealer contributions, so while an Up GTi will set you back £250 per month for three year after a £1500 deposit, the Twingo GT is cheaper at around £210 despite having a higher list price.
Dynamique TCe 90 is the one we'd go for on balance of cost, comfort and fun, whether you're buying outright or on finance.
First Time Driver
Expression SCe 70 – less than £9k will buy an entry-level Twingo with low insurance, decent fuel economy and great manoeuvrability.
Company Car Buyer
Dynamique S Energy TCe 90 Stop & Start – well-equipped, with fuel economy of up to 66mpg and just 99g/km of CO2 emissions.
Twingo GT looks great and that extra power makes all the difference for keener drivers, although we'd always point you in the direction of the much more fun VW Up GTi before you spend money on the Twingo.
Just like its Seat Mii and Volkswagen Up cousins, the Citigo is a great drive, surprisingly spacious and very cute.
Fun to drive and cheap to insure, the i10 also comes with a great five-year warranty and is capable of up to 71mpg.
The little 108 may be cut from the same cloth as the Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo, but we think it’s the best of the bunch.
The Kia is well equipped, well priced and not without a bit of a zip to its driving style. The 7 year warranty appeals, too.
A bit more expensive, but more practical and more fun to drive, plus it'll hold its value better.