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Click to view road test review picture galleryRenault’s smart-
  looking new Twingo
  is the not only the
  right size but it’s
  the right price, too.
  But for many drivers
  it will be the
  accomplished, turbo-
  charged Twingo GT
  that will have them
  feeling Glad All Over...”


RENAULT SAYS THE NAME TWINGO is an amalgamation of three words: 'twist', 'swing' and 'tango'. So you can guess that they are aiming their new 'supermini' at the young — and active, young-at-heart.

Although this is the first time the Twingo has been built in right-hand drive form, the product is now in its second generation. Amazingly, 2.4 million — yes, million — of the first models were bought by Renault fans around the world although not officially in the UK. The Twingo three-door hatchback joins Renault's small car line-up of the Clio, Clio Camps and Modus models at the start of the manufacturer's new model offensive — one that plans to deliver 26 new vehicles by 2009. Bigger than an 'A-class' city car but perhaps not quite as long as a new-age 'supermini' the Twingo, for some UK buyers, will offer a better com-promise of user-friendly, easy-to-park and compact size against price: 8,375 to 9,995.

Its main rivals for fun chic style and must-have desirability are, of course, the MINI hatchbacks and the new retro-styled Fiat 500. However, it's just as likely that customers considering buying a Ford Ka, VW Fox or Polo, Fiat Panda, the trilogy of Toyota Aygo/Peugeot 107/Citroen C1 models or even the larger Vauxhall Corsa, Citroen C2 and Peugeot 207 will give the Twingo a once-over when considering their purchase.

Millimetre-for-millimetre, pound-for-pound, the Renault Twingo is a strong sales proposition. Currently there is the choice of Dynamique and GT specifications. There are two Dynamique variants, one with air conditioning; one without. All models have 1.2-litre, 16-valve petrol engines: the Dynamique with 75bhp; and the GT TCE, thanks to the addition of a turbocharger, with 100bhp. The 75bhp engine returns 49.5mpg with a CO2 figure of 135g/km whilst the 100bhp turbocharged unit returns 47.8mpg and 140g/km. This means both models have a Vehicle Excise Duty rating of Band C, costing 115 per year.

Insurance costs will be low as well, with Dynamique models having a group 3 rating and the GT rated as group 5, so there is a Twingo to suit young first-time buyers or more mature users.

Just 3,601mm long, 1,640mm wide and 1,472mm high, the Twingo performs ideally as a daily urban-use car where traffic congestion
and parking room are issues. That said, and unlike some city-cars, it
is more than capable on the open road because the longish 2,367mm wheelbase and reasonably wide track gives it good stability. In addit-ion, the responsive and free-revving 100bhp engine makes very light work indeed of motorways and longer journeys.

The Twingo also has good interior space: again, unlike so many other small cars, it is not too cramped. The two clever independent rear seats have a sliding arrangement that allows them to be pushed back into part of the load area to free-up more legroom for rear seat pas-sengers. With children in the rear seats (or no passengers at all) the rear seats can be pushed forward to increase the load area size. They can also be folded down to improve the load space even further, giving stepped combinations of 165 to 959 litres of load capacity. In the front, there is plenty of shoulder room for two adults although the driver's seat, not being height adjustable, was positioned too high in the car for me.

The driver's footwell is small, so some feet could overlay the wrong pedals. Headroom, however, is excellent as the Twingo is a fairly tall car but that does mean it is prone to side wind gusting on exposed roads. Whilst on the subject of what's not so good, my test car — the likely best selling GT variant with the extra cost Sport pack — had extremely dark privacy glass and that made it really difficult, almost impossible, to see cyclists or other cars either under- or overtaking. The optional Sport pack also adds a really smart silver rear spoiler above the tailgate window and the electric-blue coloured car also had white racing stripes which I could live without. But I have to say my test Twingo GT certainly did attract attention from passers-by when it was parked.

On the subject of what you get for your money, well, according to Renault's figures, the Twingo undercuts all of its mainstream rivals. Standard Dynamique equipment includes brushed aluminium instrument surrounds, a pod style rev-counter on the steering column, a smart carbon-injected dashboard, front fog lights, Sports body styling kit, alloy wheels, CD and radio system, electric front windows, remote central locking, four airbags and anti-lock braking.

The GT models has additional items such as leather steering wheel and gear knob, manual air conditioning, automatic headlights and wipers, electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors, GT-branded door sills and Sports suspension. There are several additional extra-cost option packs so the Twingo can be tailored to fit the customer's required specification. The tiny and hard to use controls of the sound system are not user-friendly but, thankfully, there were larger duplicate con-trols on the steering column.

As to driveability, the handling is really very good — nice and tight, good control, not too much roll and a bit of understeer with reasonable front wheel grip. However, the electronically-controlled steering lacks feedback to the driver. The Sport suspension on the GT model is fine for some of the time: on good, smooth surfaces it can be lived with, but on rippled tarmac surfaces or potholed roads it is too firm so the car feels unsettled, providng a less than comfortable ride.

The sweet-revving, four-cylinder turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine
is quite a gem and probably one of the best reasons to buy a Twingo
in GT spec. It is strong, with lots of low-down pull. It is quick as well
— with an impressive top speed of 117mph and a 0-62mph time of just 9.8 seconds.

Matched to a five-speed close-ratio manual gearbox, the engine's max-imum torque of 107lb ft at 3,000rpm endows it with very flexible perfor-mance. It will drive happily at 30mph in fifth gear in town traffic with-out any problem, and it picks up readily to overtake slower traffic right up to the 70mph legal limit. Overall, the real-life fuel consumption was a very laudable 44.6mpg. For the record, the official urban and touring figures are 36.2 and 57.6mpg respectively.

In it's favour the Twingo comes packaged in an 'easy to park' size, has user-friendly interior space, offers value for money and a high specif-ication along with a competitive purchase price. It also serves up strong engine performance. Against that are set higher servicing costs and emissions than some MINIs and the firm, unsettled ride over poorer road surfaces. And while it's not as much fun as a MINI hatchback (which also has better badge appeal), the Twingo GT is an accom-plished car to drive. For those owners for whom getting from A to B without fuss in a smart looking car at a competitive price are priorities, the Twingo fits the bill.

So, forget the composite Twingo name taken from Twist, Swing and Tango and instead Rock 'n' Roll to your local Renault dealer and give the perky Twingo GT a spin: You'll soon be feeling Glad All Over. — David Miles

TWINGO partners stunt driver extraordinaire Terry Grant
in dramatic new World Record


Proving that the Twingo has more than its fair share of ability, famous stunt driver Terry Grant set a new Guinness World Record in a Twingo GT at the Live Action Arena of the Autosport International Show on
15 January 2008, when he spun a Twingo through a gap just 18 centi-metres more than the length of the car!

While Terry's method of nipping through gaps is best left to the pro-fessionals, the 100bhp GT does underscore that the Twingo GT is just the ticket for punching above its weight.

Terry's eye-watering 'J-turn' stunt involved reversing the Twingo at speed and spinning it through barriers that were just 378 centimetres apart — that's only 18 centimetres (7.087 inches) more than the length of the car. However, the crucial measurement for Terry was the diagonal size of the Twingo. At 370 centimetres, this left Terry with just a four-centimetre (1.575 inches) gap between the barriers!

In all, Terry performed the stunt 12 times over the four days of the show. In each spectacular demonstration, the gap between the barriers was reduced (breaking the previous World Record each time), which culminated in the previous record being finally beaten by over one-and-a-half metres!

Terry Grant has been performing stunts around the world for over 12 years and is widely regarded as one of the greatest performers in the business — and the Twingo 'duet' marked his 16th World Record.

"For this record, the car needs great agility, visibility and pinpoint accuracy. The Twingo," says Terry, "has it in spades! Best of all, despite up to six shows each day and numerous practice runs, it
was bomb-proof! You couldn't drive many cars home after that
sort of punishment!"

More about Terry Grant can be found at www.terrygrant.com.

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Renault Twingo 1.2 GT TCE 100 | 9,995
Maximum speed: 117mph | 0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Overall test MPG: 44.6mpg | Power: 100bhp | Torque: 107lb ft

CO2 140g/km | VED Band C 115 | Insurance group 5E
Visit Renault's website Click to go there now

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