Renault Twingo 133 Cup: Weapon of Choice (For a British B road)

Photo Credit to Parkers

 

Renault Twingo 133 Cup: Weapon of Choice (For a British B road) 

In the UK, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to our roads. There may be the odd speed cameras dotted around the place, poor surfaces and wandering sheep. But nothing stops us from driving. We are a nation of proud motorists, Young and old. Obviously, there are people out there who have different views on how we should drive. And some people believe nobody should drive at all. But when it comes to going for a drive down a British B road, I don’t think many people appreciate what we have here. Especially up in Scotland where there is nothing more than smooth, windy roads with scenery that is only unique to this part of the world. Even if you have the least bit of interest for driving, at least try and appreciate our roads.

For those of us who do enjoy driving, let alone down a B road. We are spoiled for choice when it comes to cars. Mainly from European manufacturers who know a thing or two about the roads we have here in Britain, and Europe alike for that matter. But for example you want a hatchback with blistering performance, things start to narrow down.  BMW 140, Audi S3 comes to mind. Then cost starts to factor in, and even the Peugeot 308 GTI starts at 22 thousand pounds. Then you throw a maximum price of 14 thousand pounds into the mix and you are seriously narrowing it down. In fact, as of April 2017, there really is only one car in this market sector. The Suzuki Swift Sport. Its hung on in there for years, and even though its long overdue replacement is coming next year, not too long ago there was a second contender. The Renault Twingo RS. Before Renault decided to kill it off and move to a more quirkily styled, rear wheel drive, rear engined model. There was a tall looking, front engined, front wheel drive model. I found out a friend of mine managed to pick one of these things up for nothing more than about 3 and a half thousand pounds. A very clean 2011 plate in white. And even better to sweeten the deal, he found out it has the optional Cup chassis and it’s a 1 of 50 Silverstone GP Cup editions. Quite a rare car then! Embarrassingly enough for me though, I forgot Renault made this version of the car. It can sometimes be a good thing forgetting that a particular car existed. Because then it feels new to you again, and those are the cars that your eager to dive in and learn a bit about. Some of you reading this will be thinking, ‘you can get a Fiesta ST for the same money.’ For a very good reason, it didn’t make sense. Due to the UK’s horrendous rules on car insurance for young drivers being based on crash statistics on certain models. The Twingo made better financial sense for my mate. Far less are about, meaning far less were crashed; in turn making it cheaper. And personally, I think he made a better choice. He already has a Fiesta ST track car and he wanted something similar that wasn’t going to cost him an arm for insurance. I asked if I could rob the keys for a couple days and see what it was like. The train for him was a better option to get to work that week, so the answer was, ‘yes, give it a run.’

Design and Styling

The standard MK2 Twingo shape was never a brilliant looking car, but it was never ugly. What you need to remember is, the original model Twingo came out in 1992 and lasted in production till 2007 until the MK2 came out. And if I’m correct in saying, the UK market never got the MK1. A. Because you never ever see them. B. Anytime you do see one, they are left hand drive. I think Renault thought it was pointless releasing the original Twingo here since the Clio was an adequate entry level model. Plus we don’t have horribly narrow streets like they do in Paris. So the advantage of the Twingo’s small size wasn’t needed. To start with, the new model looks more boxy. But thats where the difference end. There are a few styling queues you can see were carried over from the original. You can tell this is a new car from top to bottom but its not so drastically different from the original that I’m thinking its a different car altogether. I think thats mostly down to its bizarre, exterior door handles which the original had. They do add a little bit of character though. The rear windows which taper up from the bottom towards the back and the general friendly appearance of the car is retained. But this, obviously, is no ordinary Twingo. This is a Renault Sport Twingo. Renault always seem to get their sporty models styling bang on. Little tweaks that separate the normal models to the Renault Sport models. And the Twingo RS, is no exception. The rather tasty, black glossy trims surround the wing mirrors, big chunky 17 inch wheels (cup model exclusive) and tinted windows give the Twingo RS a really aggressive look. This car, with its white paint really compliments the trim pieces. This one also has the option for some brilliant, chequered decals down each door in a gunmetal grey colour. Renault seem to know when to stop though. All tastefully spruced up, but its never over the top. Walk round to the front, and the mad look it has jumps out at you. The big Renault badge sitting proudly. The cutout for the grill gives it this open mouth, angry appearance. And the little headlights that counteract the aggressive mouth with a sort of, cute look. A chrome RS badge sits proudly at the bottom right to the side of the number plate. Round the back, you will see the flat hatch lid. A massive Renault badge appears again and a little spoiler at the top just to make the cars proportions look more balanced over the standard car. You also get Twingo decals in grey and chrome Renault Sport badging at the bottom right. A chrome exhaust sticks out underneath what looks like the cut out I mentioned at the front, but at the back, I think is supposed to look like a rear air splitter.

Its a shame once you open the heavy doors that they didn’t extend the same decorum on the inside. Grey plastics line everything, and it feels typical Renault. The door cards do feel flimsy, but I do think by this point Renault’s are quite well put together. Compared to what they used to be a few years back there is no contest. The only thing that sets the interior apart from a normal model is the Renault Sport badges on the seats, the red stitching and the bright orange/red seat belts. Jump inside and first thing you’ll notice is the unsporting driving position. You sit high in the comfy but supportive seats. The windscreen wedges down to the bottom very far away from you. There is plenty adjustment in the seat and the steering wheel tilts generously. I did find the steering wheel to be too close once I had put the seat in my preferred distance. The rev counter sits alone, and is easy to see through the wheel. The speedo is in the middle on the dash displayed through an LCD. Im not a fan of speedo’s that aren’t in front of you. I just don’t see the need in moving it. Especially since you have to look over to it instead of a quick glance down. Same goes with the location for the headlight/full beam indicators. They are stupidly placed below the speedo. I got caught out a few times driving the car in the dark by people flashing at me for having the full beam on. For no reason whatsoever I couldn’t see why they didn’t put the headlight indicators on the rev counter. There is plenty of storage inside. Cubby holes are everywhere and the rear seats slide forward and back to give you more leg room or luggage space in the boot. There is no middle seat though. The Renault scores a 5 star Euro NCAP Safety rating. Now, that means nothing, but, back then it was a huge deal for a car of this size.

Drive

Turn the key and instantly you hear the 16 valve, 1.6 four cylinder buzz into life. Set off and you will find the clutch has a long throw and a high bite. The pedals also hinge quite drastically from the top. I suspect because the firewall is so vertical. The accelerator is a bit of a contrast, the pedal has a short throw and feels like your pressing your foot on a wet sponge. Its more like a pressure pad than an accelerator. Before I got to a road I know well, I drove the Twingo round town and its very nimble. You can tell this was a city car from the get go with its impressive turning circle and light steering. The rack is quick with. 2.3 turns lock to lock. Visibility out the side windows and windscreen is also fantastic. The rear visibility is limited. The ride would be atrocious to some drivers. Its firm springs may not jarring, but it is bumpy. Over rough ground the Twingo really started to struggle. A lot of vibration goes on and you are shaken about in your seat. I finally arrived at one of my favourite B roads and the Twingo comes into its own, but not without fault. Press down on the throttle and sadly, you get the feeling not much is happening. Not really what you want in a hot hatch. The Twingo only has 118lb ft of torque which really isn’t too bad. But it feels a little gutless, especially in the lower rev range. Overtaking is off-putting, and I think this lack of low down grunt due to the gearbox being highly geared as a trade off for fuel economy. The gear shift has short and assertive change, but it does have a slight cheap sound, especially changing into 5th you hear a plastic knocking noise which is strange. But, rev it out and the power smoothly comes in at around 3.5k revs and it continues to pull all the way up to redline at 7k. There is a green shift light that appears before the rev limiter abruptly comes in. Induction noise is very prominent and it always brings a smile to your face. This thing does sound brilliant! You will hit 60 in 8.5 seconds and at times I forgot what speed I was doing. Just don’t expect it too do much once your past 85 MPH, it starts to get breathless then. Once your up to speed, the suspension starts to forget bumps exist. This thing is very smooth as the speed increased. It has firm springs and the dampening is on the soft side. Spring set up, teamed with this chassis is where Renault need an applaud. Grip is unbelievable! It is impossible to get this thing to go beyond its limits with the power it has one your up to speed. This car wasn’t even on expensive rubber either! Im very, very sure though if the Twingo did start to loose adhesion a slight lift of the throttle will e enough to gently bring it back under the drivers reign. Going flat out round a small roundabout will get this thing to push, but it never goes wide due to its short wheelbase, meaning not only is it a safe car to drive. But one you can go flat out everywhere with the comfort of knowing your not going to skid off the road. You will never feel the need to trail brake this thing on the roads, (save that for the track) it is that good round corners. Body roll is almost non existent and the turn in is wonderfully sharp. Even if you are quite violent with a steering, this thing will do exactly what you tell it to do with no fuss. It does have traction control you can turn off, but the only use could find for it would to keep you from sliding in the winter and for track fun. If there was any downsides that really made me disappointed at all would be the slight lack of involvement. The steering is just a bit too light and there is very little in the way of feedback. You can tell Renault have put a bit of artificial weight in which is welcoming. But its still too light, and it never really builds up in bends to be fully confidence inspiring. Due to the high driving position you also don’t get much communication from the chassis either. Your not pushed into the side of the seat as you corner round. You do feel the weight transfer as you accelerate and decelerate which is also useful as lift of oversteer is very easily achievable in this car and is never daunting to do. Go round a tight bend and lift your foot off and this thing will happily get the back round. It does it in a controlled manner and is very easy to sort with a bit of counter steering. Due to the weight weight of the car, high speed oversteer was also very easy to correct with a bit of throttle. Brake pedal has quite an early bite, but it does have good modulation. Its just a shame that hard braking at high speeds upsets the back. The car will start to shake at the back until the ABS kicks in to settle it. Going over undulating roads in the Twingo can be quite scary. Due to its tall appearance and firm springs, the Twingo turned into a bouncy castle. Slowing down over roads like this is a must.

After I had my fun in the car and the sun had set, I noticed headlight range was pretty poor and full beam is very weak. Driving down the motorway, this was not ideal. And road noise is very bad. 70 MPH and your really having to raise your voice to make conversation. Renault claim 42 MPG and Im sure this car could do that. Most of the time though you are having too much fun to really care about MPG and I have a feeling thats exactly why this car has no trip computer. I found the Twingo to be unusually thirsty when it was being booted. As I drove it back to its owners home. The Twingo kept reminding me of what this car is about. Its hard to avoid what its about and who its for!

Verdict

If you are 18,19,20. I can’t think of a better car in this price range that will offer you the same amount of fun and practicality; thats also affordable to buy, cheap to insure, cheap to fix and in general, cheap to run. Its not perfect. But its not far off! The steering is isn’t brilliant. The general engagement of the dynamics is a little muted. the engine is nothing to write home about and the interior is average. I also noticed a slight delay in full accelerated first gear take off’s, not good in a drag race with your mate (I don’t encourage illegal driving though.) I could go on, but then I would be lying to myself about what this car is about. The sound, bad ass looks and the astounding capabilities of th3 Twingo RS is all it takes to fully appreciate how much of a laugh this thing is. There are hardcore sports cars that wouldn’t give you this much fun on twisties. Purely because you are flat out everywhere in this thing, but you can safely get carried away and not have to worry about any drastic understeer; or the back end wanting to swap places. I just wish more manufacturers would make cars like this, because we seem to have a bewildering lack of them.

Was I sad to hand the keys back? A little, It wasn’t as driver focused as I would have liked. And I think a Fiesta ST of the same age would offer that little bit more feedback that was missing. But as an alternative to the Fiesta ST and as a general package. The Twingo RS offers a young driver a taste of performance and fun that would ultimately give them fond memories of their first car. You usually learn a lot from your first car. But theres one thing you wont learn unless your car after this was a lemon. Is that that for a first car, the Twingo RS is a good buy if not the best buy in its class. Plus, the ride is too firm for your parents liking. Which means they will never want to drive it. Perfect for when your in your early 20’s, cruising the streets on a Saturday night tooting the horn at drunken females. Who knows, The Twingo’s cute but, horny looks may tempt them to ask for a ride home.

4 Star rating.

Engine: 1.6 NA inline 4 cylinder 16V

Weight: 1049 kg

0-60: 8.7 claimed

Top speed: 125 MPH

Power: 133 PS

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