New Renault Twingo vs classic Renault 5

21 Jun, 2014 7:30am Oliver Kew

We get exclusive access to new Renault Twingo as it meets the legendary Renault 5

The new Renault Twingo is a real mix of classic French small car thinking and cutting-edge tech, according to the company’s exterior design boss Csaba Wittinger. We caught up with the Hungarian designer to find out how it’s the classic Renault 5, not previous Twingos, that have inspired the new rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive city car.

Wittinger is the senior exterior designer for the new Twingo, which has been a long time in the making, and even longer in the inspiration.

He told us: “I joined the project in 2010, but it already had some pre-work on the architecture, and at that point we knew the car would be rear-engined and rear-wheel drive.” Renault has an illustrious history of filling its city cars’ back seats with an engine: there was the mid-engined Clio V6, and the wild Renault 5 Turbo before it.

New Renault Twingo studio shot

And it’s the latter car – not the ‘one box’ original Twingo, which was never sold in right-hand drive – that’s inspired the new Twingo, due in UK showrooms later in the summer.

Wittinger points to the angle of the tailgate and the shape of the C-pillar as classic 5 cues, plus the tiny overhangs and space-efficient cabin, allowed by the Twingo’s rear-engined layout.

There are more subtle cues, hinting at the car’s rear-drive set-up. “We have the wider rear ‘hips’, which on the 5 Turbo were flat [to cover the wider track]. At first there were [engine air] intakes in the rear like a sports car, but the engineers worked on the cooling so they were not needed,” said Wittinger. Instead, cosmetic ‘vents’ around the rear number plate have survived.

Renault 5 studio shot

There’s a hint of negative rear camber around the wider back tyres, too. “Engineering requires it, but I say it looks like a race car,” Wittinger told us. “I tried to design a car which is neither masculine nor feminine. Too many small cars have aggressive faces – it was a requirement that the Twingo look friendly.”

Before the Twingo, Wittinger was responsible for Renault’s budget sub-brand, Dacia. So, was this a chance to express himself? “Sure, [Renault] has more heritage, plus this car has to be more chic and lead the trend,” he said.

In the metal, the Twingo looks fantastic, and if you want an extra style hint, its designer assures us that it suits white paint best.

New Renault Twingo rear studio shot

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I'm OK with either, though the 5 has tauter lines.

I loved the first Twingo though, a true orginal that outpoints the new one by a country mile.

Yes, the original Twingo that didn't come to the UK, I had one on loan whilst living in Paris in the 1990s and was very impressed by its suitability to that city environment.

This is not the "classic 5"! This is the second generation a.k.a. Superfive...

For some reason that still escapes me, Renault thought back then that there wouldn't be such a market for small city cars in the UK and Ireland that it would justify adapting it to left hand drive. Obviously they subsequently changed their mind...

Looks more like the original Clio to me, especially the side view/windows, I don't see an ounce of R5!

I always find it amusing when designers try and reference 'classic' designs when there are clearly no similarities at all. The only things the two cars have in common are 5 doors, 4 wheels, and the red colour (presumably chosen to foster a similarity, as the designer himself says its best showcased in white..). In reality I think its doing the Twingo a disservice: Its an interesting enough model in its own right without needing to harp on about any retro influences. Shame there's no 3 door though.

I rented Twingos in France, Germany, Italy. Loved them apart from the A-pillar reducing visibility somewhat. Such a pity that Renault never exported to the UK, and failed to develop the car over the years.

I liked the offset bonnet vents on the original, that design was very much of its time.

I think that a few rear seat passengers suffered badly in rear-end collisions though, so the car had to be reworked.

I agree, I see more Fiat 500 than Renault 5.