Road Test: Renaultsport Twingo 133
Sector: Supermini Price: £13,565 Fuel: 43.5mpg CO2: 150g/km
Ask yourself this. When was the last time you used all the space available in your company car? What if instead of running a mid-spec C-segment hatch, you could downsize to an A-segment performance car and make your commute a whole lot more interesting?
That’s the promise on offer with the Renaultsport Twingo 133. It’s relatively high on CO2 emissions, but offsets some of that by being incredibly cheap for the fun it offers, not to mention entirely enjoyable at legal speeds. So, potentially, it’s the ideal perk car for drivers wanting to swap needless practicality for boundless enjoyment.
It’s also become just a little more affordable. Renault facelifted the Twingo earlier this year, giving it the more prominent diamond badge and Skoda Yeti style split headlamps. Of all the Twingo variants, the Renaultsport version wears it best, helped by flared arches, the F1-style blade as found on the Clio and an air diffuser under the rear bumper.
As part of this, the car has dropped a BiK tax band. Renault has cut CO2 emissions from 155 to 150g/km, with a small improvement in fuel economy compared to its predecessor. Better still, the carmaker has done so without changing the car’s character. The 133bhp 1.6-litre engine still wakes up with a bark of induction roar, screaming into life at over 4,000rpm and serving up straight-line performance that brochure figures can’t do justice.
Driving the Twingo is a sensory experience. It’s very noisy, not just from the engine but also the tyres and wind noise at speed. Plus the chassis is geared towards maximum grip, so the supple ride quality of lower-powered models is absent here. Keen drivers will overlook this for the limpet-like grip it offers, but those who chose this mainly as a style option will find it’s back-breakingly firm on anything except glass-smooth roads.
But that’s all part of its charm. With even the Renaultsport Clio getting a turbocharged engine next year, the Twingo is the last of a generation of fast Renaults. It makes no pretence of being a grown-up, polished small car. There’s no turbocharger, no seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, no selectable driving modes and not even a colour display on the dashboard.
Like hot Clios of old, this gives you just the basic ingredients needed to make each drive grin-inducingly hilarious. Surely that’s more than enough reason to overlook its flaws?
The Renaultsport Twingo 133 is a performance car built to an old and disappearing recipe, making each drive surprisingly engaging for the modest-sounding brochure figures. It’s not a patch on the peerless but soon to be replaced Renaultsport Clio 200, but there’s more than enough fun to be had here without risking your licence or becoming a regular sight at the pumps.