Renault Twingo GT 2007 review

It’s been a long time coming – but the new Renault Twingo has arrived in the UK

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

After such a long wait and high expectations, the Twingo ultimately disappoints. In GT form, the driving experience is lacklustre, the build quality suspect and the price can spiral upwards once you hit the options list. Up against the impressive Fiat 500, it lacks attention to detail and is nowhere near as fun to drive. However, the spacious interior, 1.2-litre turbo motor and reasonably distinctive looks are all strong selling points for the little Renault. In fact, in lower-priced Dynamique spec, it starts to make a lot more sense.

After a 14-year wait, British buyers can now get their hands on the new Renault Twingo - and Auto Express has taken the wheel in the UK.

The 1993 original was never officially available here, and was sold only in left-hand drive. But a booming small car market has convinced the French brand to put things right with the latest version.

Renault has designed the newcomer to be fun and practical, with a range of options and a versatile interior to help it stand out. However, with competition from the entry-level Fiat 500, Citroen C2 and Ford Ka, the Twingo has a tough fight on its hands. So has it been worth the wait? We got behind the wheel of the first car in Britain to find out.

The large front headlamps and faired-in grille create a friendly face, even if the rear is virtually identical to that of the firm’s Clio. Splashes of silver trim on the door mirrors, the rear spoiler and front airdam add interest to the GT model driven here.

Open the long door and the cabin is light and airy – but it lacks some of the original’s simple charm. There are no strips of body-coloured metal, nor any chunky, bright ventilation controls.

There are some eye-catching touches, though, such as the centrally positioned digital speedo and the pod-mounted rev counter. These offer relief from the swathes of grey plastic. And a comprehensive MP3 connection module is in the glovebox.

Renault’s engineers have made the most of all the available space from the 3.6-metre-long body. In the rear, two individual seats can slide backward or forward by 22cm, creating extra legroom or increasing luggage capacity from 165 to 285 litres. Fold both flat, and the figure rises to 985 litres. If that isn’t enough, there are lots of cubbies and deep door pockets.

Sadly, cost-cutting is evident from the cheap plastics on the dash and door trim. Insufficient carpeting ex­poses the seat runners, the steering mechanism and bits of wiring.

Fortunately, the Renault redeems itself on the road. Its 100bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol motor is claimed to give the power of a 1.4 with the torque of a 1.6 and fuel returns of 47.8mpg. In practice, it provides plenty of punch and pace. It’s strongest in the mid-range, but can become thrashy and intrusive at high revs. Thankfully, with a light and accurate gearshift, early upchanges aren’t a hardship.

Renault bills this GT as a junior hot hatch, but it’s not in the same league as the Clio 197. The Twingo suffers from too much body roll, and the chassis can lose composure if it’s pushed over demanding roads. On the plus side, its light and precise steering, good all-round visibility and diminutive dimensions make it perfect for the urban cut and thrust.

At £9,995, the Twingo initially represents decent value, although adding cost options can push the price beyond £11,000 – and into Fiat 500 territory. In GT spec, it can’t quite decide what it wants to be – sporty hatch or cute city car. Arguably the £8,375 Dynamique variant is a better bet. With the same versatile interior, an even more frugal 75bhp 1.2-litre motor and a softer chassis, it’s closer in spirit to the original.

Rival: Fiat Panda 100HP The sporty little Panda is more engaging to drive – and also has the added practicality of a five-door body. However, a firm ride lets the Italian star down.

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