23 February 2012 Last Updated: 29 October 2013

Full Renault Twingo (07 on) Model Review

by Parkers

  • French city car gets a major facelift for 2012
  • Latest Renault Twingo gets an exterior redesign
  • Cleaner engine lowers tax costs to £30 per year
Renault Twingo (07 on) 1.2 16V Dynamique (2012) 3d - Road Test
Renault has made some drastic design changes to the new Twingo as it looks to keep its footing in the rather crowded city car market.

Renault has made some drastic design changes to the new Twingo as it looks to keep its footing in the rather crowded city car market.

With the arrival of the SEAT Mii, Skoda Citigo and Volkswagen up!, as well as the new Fiat Panda and Kia Picanto, convincing buyers to opt for the Renault is going to be harder than ever.

The major changes are external. Unlike the usual manufacturer facelift, where it’s hard to even notice what has changed, the Twingo has received a major reworking. The front end is completely different to the previous model. It gets a new bumper along with new light designs, while the rear of the car also gets some new lights integrated in to the boot

Inside the car the changes are a little less dramatic. Apart from a few tweaks, such as changes to the heating controls, it’s all very similar to the predecessor. The central hub with digital speedo is still a neat little touch, as is the rev counter housed on top of the steering wheel. Unfortunately, the hard plastics also remain and continue to make the cabin feel a little cheap.

Despite the design changes, the Twingo comes with the sole petrol engine of the previous model. The 1.2-litre petrol engine produces 75bhp. This enables the car to accelerate from 0-62mph in a rather sluggish 12.3 seconds, and you feel almost every second of that, as you get up to speed. The gap between 50mph and 70mph feels particularly tiresome and you’ll find your foot pushed to the floor as you attempt to reach motorway speeds.

However, performance figures aren’t the major focus at this end of market. Instead it is the running costs that take precedent. This car emits 119g/km, which means it will cost nothing to tax in the first year, rising to £30 per year in road tax after that. Fuel economy is a claimed 55.4mpg, according to Renault.

In isolation these figures may seem good enough, but compare them to some of the competition and the Twingo starts to falter. The Kia Picanto 1.0-litre Air model, with an output of 70bhp, emits 99g/km – making it road tax exempt – and it can average a claimed 67mpg.

On the road, the Twingo is competitive with its rivals. The steering is well weighted, with light movement for when you’re driving in town. Unfortunately there is quite a lot of bodyroll through corners. The ride does well to cope with potholes, but it does get slightly jittery on rougher surfaces.

The engine is also a little noisy. This is exacerbated by the fact that you find yourself pushing it way beyond 4,000 revs to get up to a decent speed before changing gear. If you need to overtake any slower traffic, you’ll have to plan well ahead and even drop down a gear or two.  The five-speed gearbox is good though, with smooth changes. 

There’s just the single Dynamique trim available, and there’s a decent amount of standard kit on offer. There’s cruise control, manual air con, 15-inch alloy wheels, height adjustable front seat, sliding independent rear seats and a CD player with Bluetooth connection and RCA inputs for MP3 players – although this is rather awkward compared to standard aux-in points.

While space and practicality may not be a major concern when you’re looking for a city car, the Twingo does offer some excellent tricks to make itself more useful. The rear seat, for example, is no longer one bench. Instead, it’s two separate seats, which can be placed flat or even folded fully forward to extend the luggage space to a much more useable 951 litres. The rear seats can also be slid back or forth, and this makes enough room for an adult to sit quite comfortably.

The design changes and clever practical touches have definitely helped bring the Twingo up-to-date. Unfortunately, the engine feels rather dated and Renault's inability to drop emissions further means it is still lagging a little behind the competition.

The Twingo is available to order now with prices starting at £10,350. Our car, with options fitted, cost £10,985. The Kia Picanto 1.0-litre 2, with similar kit, undercuts this at £9,595, while it's competitive with the new Panda. In similar specification and power, 0.9-litre TwinAir Lounge, the Panda costs £11,250.

To read the full Renault Twingo review click here.

Also consider:

SEAT Mii
One of three cars from the Volkswagen group all based on the same platform. Well built, with low emission models available.

Kia Picanto
The latest Picanto is a big improvement over the previous car. There’s a choice of three- or five-door models, and all versions offer low running costs.

Fiat Panda
Fiat’s Panda has built a reputation as one of the best city cars around. Add to this improved quality and an excellent TwinAir engine, and it’s some tough competition.