Get­ting to grips with a lit­tle hot hatch from Re­nault

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES - Fred­eric Manby

I AM not sure I would ever have liked a car like the Twingo Cup, even when I was but a twingo of a lad.

I’d cer­tainly never want it in ice-cap white with panda blotches of black – an “id” pack that adds £153.26 to the price of the car tested. Con­fus­ingly, this was on top of the £403.59 charged for its metal­lic paint fin­ish. Some mis­take? That’s what the spec­i­fi­ca­tion sheet for HY59 WVV said.

The gloss black 17in wheels in place of the reg­u­lar 17in an­thracite grey al­loys added £178.80, and the demo car from Re­nault also had rear park­ing sen­sors at £255.43.

I know. The Twingo is al­most too short to need park­ing sen­sors but I think the Re­nault garage wants to pro­tect its cars from park­ing scrapes by Her Majesty’s Press. This is the prob­lem. So many cars of­fered for as­sess­ment by the mak­ers are kit­ted out with all the tricks. We get ac­cus­tomed to park­ing by buzzer. Some of us haven’t used a win­dow win­der in years. The young sprats may, in­deed, never come across a cranked win­der arm found on the bot­tom rung of bot­tom-rung cars.

We have a sim­i­lar panic when a car turns up without in-built nav­i­ga­tion. As did this Twingo, and I had to drive to a place called Fawsley Hall, in Northamp­ton­shire. I’d been be­fore and knew it was hard to find.

I have a CarTrek nav­i­ga­tion pod but the SD card has al­ways been trou­ble­some and is re­jected by the unit. Oddly, the West­ern Europe SD card works but ex­cludes Great Bri­tain and Ire­land. At­tempts to get it re­placed have been hope­less. Oc­ca­sion­ally, I try it again. Al­ways the same re­fusal.

In­stead, to find Fawsley I wrote down some in­struc­tions from an AA routefinder on the web. They in­volved 13 round­abouts in the same num­ber of miles be­tween junc­tion 18 on the M1 and my des­ti­na­tion.

I ar­rived at Fawsley Hall, up its sin­gle-track road – and took the car’s pho­to­graph. I walked to­wards the Re­cep­tion Desk with my bags.

“Are you al­right there?” said the per­son at the desk.

This is a fairly com­mon greet­ing th­ese days in a shop, but at a high-cost coun­try house ho­tel?

The per­son in its spa had the same one-liner.

To each I said: “Yes, I am al­right here. Are you al­right there?” (An­swer: yes). “Then we are both al­right,” said I.

The re­cep­tion­ist told me how to find the room but there was no of­fer to help with my lug­gage.

I was, as you can tell, in a bright mood. I had not been en­joy­ing the Twingo all that much at home in the coun­try hills, where its pos­i­tive but firm han­dling was un­com­fort­able and jog­gly. It is not, I re­alised, a car for un­in­volved and re­laxed A-toB jour­neys.

It is a jolly hot hatch and that’s how I treated it on our fi­nal date. We both had a good time when I took the strap to it, push­ing the mo­tor

Top speed is a claimed 125mph and 0-62mph is pos­si­ble in 8.7 sec­onds.

to­wards 7,000 rpm, charg­ing it into bends, com­ing out the other side point­ing where I wanted to be point­ing with a fair amount of power ap­plied.

Twingo is Re­nault’s small­est car. It is a three-door, car­ry­ing on the name of the more de­light­ful orig­i­nal Twingo from last cen­tury (which Re­nault never made in right-hand drive). The 133 Cup is the hottest of the Twin­gos. It has a 1.6 petrol mo­tor pro­duc­ing 133ps (131bhp) and 118 lb ft of torque. The lat­ter is not a lot, and that’s a rea­son why you need to get into the top half of the revs band.

Top speed is a claimed 125mph and 0-62mph is pos­si­ble in 8.7 sec­onds, a re­spectable fig­ure, en­hanced by the abil­ity to hold on to speed through bends.

Re­nault has opened 11 Re­nault­sport spe­cial­ist dealers to mop up the de­mand for th­ese faster Re­naults. All dealers con­tinue to sell Re­nault­sport mod­els but the Re­nault­sport spe­cial­ists will act as “am­bas­sadors” for the range. Each spe­cial­ist dealer will have its own Re­nault­sport sales and af­ter-sales ex­perts. As well as keep­ing a full demo fleet, they have exclusive ac­cess to the na­tional Re­nault­sport events pro­gramme that, for ex­am­ple, will al­low them to bring cus­tomers along to track days.

At the time I was hus­tling the Twingo, Re­nault an­nounced a Gor­dini ver­sion with the 133ps mo­tor, avail­able from June in the fa­mous blue liv­ery with off­set white stripes, and clearly the way to go up and down your lo­cal high street to grab max­i­mum at­ten­tion. Bri­tain gets an al­lo­ca­tion of 200, and the price rises a few thou­sand to £14,500.

Twingo Gor­dini 133 has cli­mate con­trol, au­to­matic head­light and wiper ac­ti­va­tion, cruise con­trol, speed lim­iter, sta­bil­ity con­trol, 4x20W ra­dio-CD with finger­tip steer­ing wheel­mounted re­mote con­trol and sep­a­rate dis­play, Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, mul­ti­func­tional TunePoint for per­sonal mu­sic play­ers (iPod, MP3) and ex­tra-tinted rear win­dows.

Cus­tomers can per­son­alise their Gor­dini 133 with op­tional Pearl Black paint in­stead of Malta Blue, the Cup chas­sis (lower ride height, stiffer springs and dampers), Gor­dini wheels with a blue in­ner rim, cur­tain airbags and an elec­tri­cal­ly­op­er­ated panoramic sun­roof.

Amédée Gor­dini tuned some 200,000 Re­naults in the post-war years and I am not sure he would ap­prove of any colour other than bright blue.The Re­nault 8 Gor­dini was one of his most suc­cess­ful and iconic cre­ations, fin­ish­ing 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th in the 1964 Tour of Cor­sica rally.

Twingo is one of the mod­els which will ben­e­fit from a new co-op­er­a­tive agree­ment be­tween Re­nault Nis­san and Daim­ler Mercedes-Benz. They will team up for the nextgen­er­a­tion Smart fortwo and Twingo, in­clud­ing elec­tric ver­sions, as well as ex­pand­ing the Smart and Twingo fam­i­lies, bring­ing Mercedes char­ac­ter to the baby cars. The li­ai­son will run through­out the com­pany port­fo­lios, in­clud­ing In­finiti.

Pic­tures by Fred­eric Manby.

GET­TING NO­TICED: Re­nault Twingo Re­nault­Sport 133.

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