The Renault Twingo was the city car that dared to be different when it was launched in 2014.
With its rear engine, cute looks and spacious interior, it’s been a quirky choice ever since. However, up until now, the one thing it’s lacked is Va Va Voom.
The Twingo GT is Renault’s attempt at remedying this situation, and it almost succeeds. More warm than hot, the addition of a tuned version of the 998cc three-cylinder engine gives it an extra 20bhp (up from 89 to 109).
Apparently Renault Sport wasn’t able to squeeze a bigger engine beneath the rear parcel shelf, so there was no option but to extract as much power as possible from the existing unit. The only other alternative was to sacrifice the rear seats Renault 5 Turbo style, which would have dented the Twingo’s city car credentials somewhat.
The power boost may not sound much, but the GT instantly feels faster, accelerating to 62mph in 9.6 seconds and topping out at 113mph. Sounding much sportier than its regular stablemates, the turbo boost kicks in at around 2,000rpm and enthusiastic drivers will trigger the rev limiter as they spin through the gears.
That said, the GT is definitely more fun – not just in a straight line, but from a handling point of view. It feels more planted, though some may find the ride a little on the firm side.
Renault Sport hasn’t just boosted the horses – the suspension, steering and gear ratios have been tweaked too, while the ride height is 20mm lower.
The Twingo GT looks different too. There’s a choice of four colours, including Lunaire Grey, Profond Black and Glacier White, but we’d go for Piment Orange combined with orange trim details in the cabin, Renault Sport-badged door sills and aluminium pedals.
Perhaps the easiest way to distinguish the GT is the air intake on the left rear wing, twin exhausts and go-faster decals.
Apart from its enhanced performance and sharper handling, the GT benefits from all the advantages of the more basic car.
There’s a surprising amount of space up front and in the rear for adults – it’s also comfortable, well equipped and fully connected.
The boot shelf is a little higher than most of its competitors because the engine is slung below, but there’s still space (180 litres) for shopping or a couple of weekend cases.
However, don’t go expecting any cheeky stowaway space under the bonnet, as you might traditionally expect in rear-engined cars – there’s no room there, just access to the battery, coolant and windscreen washer reservoirs.
The rear seats fold flat 50/50 and the front passenger seat folds down too for extra luggage space. The rest of the interior is nicely laid out and well put together with some funky touches, echoing the exterior.
The Twingo’s party trick is also intact – it remains one of the most manoeuvrable city cars on the market with a remarkable turning circle of 8.59 metres.
Fuel economy is good too, if you can resist the temptation to plant your right foot. It’s capable of 54mpg, while CO2 emissions are a fairly low 115g/km.
The GT is up against some strong competition – especially the VW Up!, which for is arguably the best handling car in its class and is also blessed with a gutsy three-cylinder engine.
Priced from £14,085, the Twingo GT is a big improvement on the regular car. Funky, entertaining to drive, classy and well equipped, it’s also backed by Renault’s four-year/100,000-mile warranty and four years’ roadside cover.
Review: Gareth Herincx