Getting to grips with a little hot hatch from Renault
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.
GETTING NOTICED: Renault Twingo RenaultSport 133.