REVIEW DATE: 16 Jan 2009
Does the low cost Renault Twingo Freeway represent good value for money? Steve Walker takes a look.
Renault wouldn't claim that its Twingo was the most technologically advanced citycar on the market. Actually, scrub that, it probably would but we'd know better. The Twingo doesn't have the ingenious packaging or urban cool image that its rivals offer but it is fun and it is affordable. Playing on these strengths, the entry-level Twingo Freeway could even be the smartest pick in the range.
After the original model never made it to these shores, Renault always promised us Brits that we'd get the second generation version of the Twingo and, from a manufacturer famed for style-conscious models like the Avantime and the Vel Satis, many confidently expected something that would make a MINI feel old hat. What we got was this car. Revolutionary? Perhaps in its own quiet, practical way, but not in the manner some might have been expecting. Look at the product a little closer though and you may end up wondering whether that isn't a good thing. Let's do just that.
The Twingo Freeway gets one solitary engine option and it's a 1.2-litre petrol with just 60bhp. Give it a chance though because despite the modest power output and a 0-60mph time of a somewhat ponderous 15s, the engine does feel reasonably nippy in the lightweight Renault, at low speeds at least. The engine, like the Twingo's chassis, is borrowed from the previous generation Clio supermini and for keen drivers, that's good news as the Clio II boasted one of the most capable and fun small car platforms around. Electric variable power steering is fitted as standard which is light and makes the Twingo simplicity itself to pilot around town.
".buyers could do a lot worse than focusing their attention on the most affordable model in the range"
The Twingo serves up a pleasantly urgent driving experience in the kind of urban areas where it will be predominantly used. The ride isn't the crash, bang, wallop, affair served up by some small cars and is actually very composed on bad surfaces. As we've already suggested, it's good fun to chuck about too, changing direction promptly and able to corner with the best citycar offerings in a way that makes you keen to try the top of the range Renaultsport model.
Citycars tend either to be fashion statements (like the Toyota iQ or the Fiat 500) or focus more on practicality (like a Fiat Panda or a Kia Picanto). The Twingo falls somewhere between these two extremes. The shape is contemporary and fun, without being especially arresting, while the body is spacious and airy but can't be ordered with more than three doors. Still, there are a number of neat design touches. The swollen wheel arches, novel door catches and accessory packs that include flowers, stripes and chequer decals indicate that Renault is looking to offer something that's not just a me-too contender.
This generation Twingo is a massive 170mm longer than the original. Most of the extra room has been given over to rear seat passengers and the boot. The two rear seats can slide 220mm fore and aft to prioritise space for either people or luggage and they also fold flat and then tumble forwards, offering up to 959 litres of space in this guise. Other noteworthy features include a centrally mounted instrument cluster and no fewer than eleven storage spaces dotted around the cabin.
The Freeway model's standout feature is its asking price and you'd have to say that it looks a tidy package for around £7,000. Sloting in at the very bottom of the range, an important part of the car's role will be to attract buyers who can then be upsold to pricier models but those who simply want a good value small car could stick with the Freeway and not be disappointed. ABS braking with EBD and brake assist is standard, so are driver and passenger airbags, remote central locking and a CD stereo but there's not a great deal else.
A wide range of colours is offered and Renault's options list includes a series of competitively priced graphics that can be used to give the Twingo some individuality. Racing stripes, chequered flag door stickers and other extras are available.
All Renault Twingo models fall under this manufacturer's eco2 initiative which focuses on reducing the whole life environmental costs of every model in the range. The 60bhp Freeway version is actually the best performing derivative in the Twingo range from this standpoint with its 50.4mpg economy and emissions of just 132g/km. The car has also been designed to be highly recyclable and meets strict criteria in terms of the emissions produced during its manufacturing process.
The front and rear of the Twingo have been designed to shrug off minor knocks, driving down insurance costs. Meanwhile, strong fuel economy has been achieved by the fitment of electrically assisted power steering which makes a saving of around four per cent on the car's fuel consumption figures. Built at Novo Mesto in Slovenia, the Twingo features innovative build techniques such as laser-brazing for the roof. There's also a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty thanks to features like a fully galvanised subframe and wax-injected hollow sections.
The Renault Twingo can't really compete with the trendier options in the citycar sector but what it can offer is enjoyable handling, space and value for money. Bearing these strengths in mind, buyers could do a lot worse than focusing their attention on the most affordable model in the range, the 1.2-litre Freeway.
Buyers looking for a cheap small car will struggle to better the Twingo Freeway at its £7,000 price point. You can pay a lot more than this for a citycar these days but your extra outlay may not necessarily bring you extra value. In its basic form, the Twingo delivers the basics and little more but that's all many buyers will want.
The results below show the top TWINGO deals on buyacar
|Renault Twingo 1.2 Extreme 3dr hatchback|
|Renault Twingo 1.2 16V Dynamique 3dr hatchback|
|Renault Twingo 1.2 Expression 3dr hatchback|
|Renault Twingo 1.2 TCE GT 3dr hatchback|
|Renault Twingo 1.6 VVT Renaultsport 133 3dr hatchback|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT TWINGO DEALS|
|For TWINGO FREEWAY|
|OVERALL||7.4 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||8|
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