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Renault Twingo Renaultsport

Rafay Ansar

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The Renaultsport name has built up a strong reputation thanks to its performance versions of the Clio and Megane. The Twingo is the entry-level car into Renaultsport ownership and is designed to be an authentic hot hatch at an affordable price. It's powered by a 1.6-litre engine with a modest 133bhp but thanks to the Twingo's light weight it's impressively nippy and great fun to drive. It's certainly not as hardcore as its larger counterparts, however a Cup chassis is available which lowers the ride height and stiffens the suspension. Thanks to an affordable price tag and a low insurance rating, it's a good choice for younger drivers after a decent performance car that won't cost the earth to run.

Performance



The Twingo Renaultsport comes with one engine - a 1.6-litre which produces 133bhp without using any turbochargers. This means that it does need to be worked hard in order to get meaningful performance and low down the Twingo lacks pulling response. Power peaks high up the rev range and here the Twingo feels at its most responsive and enjoyable - but it's also noisy and makes for a frantic driving experience. The standard sports exhaust emits a nice note, but this can only disguise the lack of engine refinement to a certain point and the harder you push the Twingo, the more coarse it sounds. That's not to say it's slow though - a 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds is on a par with similar sporty hatches, while the uprated brakes offer excellent stopping power. It's a shame then that the overly light gearchange lacks the snappy action you'd expect in a junior hot hatch.

Handling

There are two different handling set-ups available in the Twingo Renaultsport - a standard model and an optional Cup chassis. The standard car is a good balance between comfort and handling - it corners sharply while the ride is forgiving over rough surfaces, albeit far from smooth. The Cup chassis is the more popular choice however. It adds a lower ride height, firmer suspension springs plus 17-inch alloys (the standard model has 16-inch wheels) and this is instantly noticeable on the move. Bodyroll is reduced to a minimum in corners and it feels more reassuring in tighter bends thanks to higher grip levels and precise steering. It's not all good news though, as the trade off is an incredibly stiff ride, making the Twingo fidget over rough roads. Potholes transmit shocks through the cabin and on long journeys on anything but motorways, the Twingo Renaultsport can quickly become tiring and uncomfortable.

Comfort





The range-topping Twingo comes with Renaultsport front seats which offer better side support than the seats in the standard car. They're certainly more comfortable, although the sporty Twingo isn't a car you'd want to spend an extended length of time in. Opt for the Cup chassis and you'll find the ride stiff and unforgiving over uneven surfaces - and this is especially noticeable on city streets. The two seperate rear seats are very cramped and not very comfortable for adults - although on the plus side they do slide forward and back.

Practicality

Like the standard car the Renaultsport version of the Twingo offers the choice of maximising rear passenger space for one or both occupants, or increasing luggage space. The minimum luggage space available is 165 litres - on a par with a MINI and slightly more than a Toyota Aygo - and this can be increased to 285 litres up to window height with the rear seats slid forward. This is comparable with a Clio or Vauxhall Corsa. It can be increased to 959 litres up to roof height with both rear seats folded.

Equipment

The Twingo hot hatch comes well equipped with air conditioning, electric front windows, CD stereo, 16-inch alloy wheels, stability control (ESP) which can be fully switched off, automatic headlamps and windscreen wipers, remote central locking, alarm and immobiliser, a Renaultsport rev counter with gearchange reminder light, heated and electrically adjustable mirrors, front fog lights, sports seats plus a Renaultsport leather steering wheel and gearknob. The Renaultsport model also has a wider front and rear track than the standard car, plus a lower ride height and stiffened suspension. The £650 optional Cup chassis adds 17-inch anthracite alloys, even stiffer suspension and a further lowered suspension. Options include a Cool Pack which includes climate control and an electric panoramic sunroof and there are plenty of optional graphics and stripes allowing you to personalise your Twingo.

Behind the wheel





The Twingo has a very modern feel inside, thanks in part to the central instrument binnacle with orange LED read-outs. A conventional analogue rev-counter pod is situated on top of the steering column - this has a white dial and read needle, adding to the sporty feel. Quality is fairly good, although there are some low-rent plastics in areas out of view, plus the dated stereo is housed almost vertically in an awkward bulge in front of the gear lever. For a hot hatch the cabin is disappointingly plain (although this does help keep the price down) but at least you can make it feel more special by opting for the Renaultsport gear lever knob, gaiter and handbrake, which costs an extra £150.
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