road test: Twingo Renaultsport 133
Renault has always been a major player in the world of motor sport and its record reveals a long list of successes in many legendary races and competitions. From the R8 Gordini and 5 GT Turbo to the Clio Williams, the Renault range has always featured sports versions of mainstream production models.
Despite the fact that most car buyers have turned green, there are still a niche sector of enthusiasts who continue to buy fast cars. And judging by the interest shown in the Twingo Renaultsport 133 which I road tested, most of them are young and instantly recognise a sports car.
The compact car I tried to "tootle" around in drew instant admiration from those that identified the wider front and rear tracks with the added visual drama of a new grille design with four lights and a front bumper incorporating an F1-style blade.
This eye-catching detail is now a feature of all Renaultsport models, and alludes to Renault's success in Formula 1.
At the rear, the halo model is distinguished by its black spoiler, a bumper design that incorporates a diffuser, and aerodynamic wheel arch extensions. But it is not simply a matter of bigger wheels and bolt-on parts, it is a fully-engineered sports model with finely balanced handling and track honed performance. Attributes which do not go well with "tootling".
At the heart of this sports car is the naturally-aspirated 1.6 litre 16V engine developed by Renault Sport Technologies.
This powerplant gives 133hp at 6,750rpm, with 160Nm of torque at 4,400rpm. Its punchy character is reinforced by a throaty engine note which I found too loud for easy listening inside the cabin.
Engineers have brought down fuel consumption by three per cent to 43.5mpg and CO2 emissions are 150g/km. The car accelerates from standstill to 62 mph in 8.7 seconds, while top speed is 125 mph.
The compact interior has an authentic sports feel with Renaultsport figure-hugging seats and steering wheel with yellow stitching and white insets, a Renaultsport rev counter and an aluminium gear knob.
For the enthusiast driver I guess the rev counter is the most important, so it is sited just behind the steering wheel. However, what I considered useful information, such as speed, is sited centre dash, which means the driver has to take eyes off the road to get the information.
In its latest incarnation, Twingo Renaultsport 133 gains a higher- standard equipment specification with the introduction of a beefier, 80W audio system with USB port.
Its boot – the biggest in the small car class – ranges from 165 to 285, litres with all four seats in place, to 959 litres with the rear seats flat.
The new Twingo is fitted with an extensive array of standard active and passive safety features, and a very powerful braking system. Renault has introduced technology which will collect data through a series of sensors. The Renaultsport Monitor will provide information on acceleration times and lap times
I enjoyed the agile handling and strong performance. I didn't like the firm suspension, notchy gear change and noisy engine. This Twingo does not "tootle" well in traffic.
Facts at a Glance
Model: Twingo Renaultsport 133.
Price: £ 13,770otr.
Engine: 1.6 litre petrol.
Performance: 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 125mph.
Combined fuel consumption: 43.5 mpg.
CO2 emissions: 150g/km.