The fun factor
Since diesel power generally makes sense only for larger superminis, the Twingo emphasis is, not surprisingly, on petrol power. The line-up has been slimmed down in facelifted form, so mainstream customers will generally be directed to a familiar 75bhp 1.2-litre unit. So what's it like in day-to-day use? Well, it's true that despite the relatively light 950kg weight, the engine needs to be revved a bit if you're to attain reasonably rapid progress. One surprise on this car for me has been the ride quality. With its large wheels and short wheelbase, I expected it to crash about over potholes and speed humps but actually, it remains supple, composed and comfortable at most speeds — far better than a MINI — compensating for the busy engine note you tend to get once out on the open road.
Design and Build
The Twingo has been treated to quite a radical piece of cosmetic surgery. The rather bland face of the old car has been replaced by something a lot busier. The massive sidelights that bulge from the edge of the front grille are almost Nissan Juke-like, while the headlights get a set of eyelid-type mouldings that give it a sleepy-eyed look. At the back there's a new bumper and light clusters and Renault's wheel designers have been caning the overtime with 17 new designs for alloy rims and wheel trims. The cabin demonstrates Renault's aim to improve perceived quality with some interesting uses of colour and material.
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Market and Model
This Twingo is rather more targeted at citycar buyers wanting more of a "lifestyle" product — something with a bit of character. Whether you opt for 1.2 or 1.6-litre petrol power, you'll find a pretty good tally of standard kit all round. So even the ordinary 1.2-litre variant receives 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, air conditioning, a CD stereo with steering wheel controls and audio streaming with USB connectivity, Bluetooth compatibility for your phone, body-coloured bumpers, a height-adjustable driver's seat, power mirrors, a speed limiter, tinted electric front windows and, rather curiously for a citycar, cruise control. It's a pity though, that you have to pay extra for a spare wheel (you instead get a tyre inflation kit) and a Category 1 alarm.
If this second-generation Twingo had offered this revised model's visual and marketing fun factor from the very start, then today, it might more often be considered as a chic, more sensible and more affordable alternative to fashion-conscious urban runabouts like the Fiat 500 and the MINI. It now can be, the improvements made lifting it away from the dull but affordable urban scoots at the bottom of the city car sector and into contention with a selection of smart little cars that you might actually feel rather good about owning.
Though the underpinnings may be old, the outlook of this car remains young and vibrant, adjectives appropriate to the experience served up behind the wheel. Some trendier rivals have classier cabins or lower running costs but cars of that kind tend to be pricier. Which means that if you've one eye on the bottom line in selecting a citycar, yet still want a feel-good factor as part of the deal, then Twingo motoring can still offer up an appealing choice.