Renaultsport Twingo 133 review
The Renaultsport Twingo 133 brings thrilling performance and agile handling to the city car market
The Renaultsport Twingo 133 is one of the most powerful city cars around, with its 133bhp 1.6-litre providing sensational straight-line performance. It’s a well equipped choice, too, if expensive when compared to top-spec versions of the VW up!, SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo, although none of those cars can match the hot Twingo for pace. Closer rivals are the Suzuki Swift Sport and Abarth 500, although the latter is a lot more expensive. The Renaultsport model adds sporty styling to the cute looks of the standard Twingo, as well as much stiffer suspension, for agile handling – although the trade-off for this is a firm and uncomfortable ride.
Our choice: 1.6 Renaultsport 133 3dr
With its distinctive headlamps and twin spotlights, the Renaultsport Twingo 133 really stands out, although it won't be to all tastes. Like the standard Twingo, there's an oversized Renault badge on the grille, while at the rear, the tail-lights feature a split design. There are sporty touches to mark out the Renaultsport version from the standard car, including a roof spoiler, race-style diffuser, a bodykit and standard 16-inch alloy wheels. Inside are heavily bolstered seats, while the dashboard is finished in higher-quality soft-touch plastics than before, there’s a chunky leather-trimmed steering wheel and the rev counter sits in a pod on the steering column.
Under the bonnet of the Renaultsport Twingo is a 1.6-litre petrol engine that delivers 133bhp. It takes the car from 0-62mph in only 8.7 seconds. That’s faster than most city car rivals, although the more expensive Abarth 500 is even faster. Just as impressive as the performance is the car’s handling; the Renaultsport Twingo has the same sharp steering and instant responses as faster models in the Renaultsport range. Plus, this can be enhanced with the optional Cup chassis. Owners pay the price in terms of ride comfort, though, as the Twingo is very stiff, sending vibrations crashing into the cabin over potholed roads. Another downside is that the harsh ride and short-ratio five-speed gearbox means the Twingo buzzes along at motorway speeds - it's a car that doesn't know how to take things easy.
Renault has a strong reputation for safety, and the Renaultsport Twingo lives up to this. It comes equipped with stability control as standard, unlike many of its rivals in the city car sector, while side and curtain airbags are also included. Further boosting the car’s safety credentials is an Isofix child seat mounting in the rear, plus ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution. The Twingo hasn’t featured in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys, but Renault’s range as a whole has been criticised for its questionable reliability – although the latest Twingo has only been recalled once since it hit showrooms in 2008.
As it’s a strict three-door, access to the Renaultsport Twingo could be easier. However, once you’re aboard, the rear seats slide back and forth to boost rear legroom or boot space as required; this sees the luggage area range from 165-285 litres with the seats in place. With the seats as far back as they go, rear passengers may feel that the rear window is quite close to their heads. Fold the seats, and you get a generous 959-litre maximum space – that’s better than the Twingo's main rival, the Suzuki Swift Sport. Up front, the driver’s seat adjusts for height, although even at its lowest setting, you feel like you're sitting on the car, rather than in it. There’s a decent range of storage cubbies, although the glovebox is tiny – that's because Renault didn't move the fusebox when it converted the Twingo from left to right-hand drive.
The Renaultsport Twingo is about the same price as the Suzuki Swift Sport, and cruise control, air-conditioning, Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity are all included as standard. The sensational peformance comes at the expensive of efficiency, however; the hot Twingo emits 150g/km of CO2 and returns only 43.5mpg economy, so road tax and fuel bills are higher than for most models in this class of the market. But Renault’s 4+ package includes a four-year warranty and four years’ servicing.