Renault Twingo Dynamique 1.2 16v: First drive review

2012 Renault Twingo 1.2 Dynamique
The first car in Renault's line up to feature all-new design cues that will be applied right across the model range, is the 2012 facelifted Twingo and it looks quite different to the model before it.

I test drove the 1.2 16v model to see if the changes for the Twingo are just skin deep.

Most notable is the front end which features some attractive details from big driving lamps to a sporty latticed grille. The headlights are also tinted to match the grille and the front of the car now looks much more rounded.

In fact, the whole car looks deceptively large. Fuchsia and Bermuda Blue metallic are two new colours available for 2012 and both are decidedly effeminate, although the Bermuda Blue of my test car grew on me over time.

Side on, the Twingo looks unchanged and retains the tiny pop up door handles, while the rear of the car now has split reversing lights and a subtle swage line on the bootlid. Shut the doors and the sound is now far less tinny. Wind and tyre noise also seem to have improved.

2012 Renault Twingo 1.2 Dynamique

Inside, little has been touched apart from red-stitched seats. The huge steering wheel still dwarfs the interior and the tree bark-like feel of the dash plastic feels quite cheap. That said, there's lots of space for a small car and plenty of headroom. The large head-up speedometer also works well and easy to keep an eye on.

The big sculpted seats are some of the most supportive I've tried in a car of this size, whilst in the rear there are two separate seats instead of a bench. Headroom is restricted, but four adults can fit in the car comfortably for short distances. Renault has chosen to keep the seat runners on show in the rear, which looks and feels a bit basic, but either seat can be slid forward quickly and easily to open up the 285 litres of boot space.

It may still look like a bit of a girl's car, but don't be fooled as the 1.2-litre lump is great fun to drive. It's free revving up to 6,250rpm and though it lacks torque, 0-62 feels quicker than the quoted 12.3 seconds.

The steering is sharp as is turn in and body roll is well contained unless you're on the limit. The tiny four cylinder powertrain is surprisingly responsive, like a go-kart when you chuck it into the corners.

It's only at higher speeds that you have to work the engine quite hard and overtaking on motorways requires a shift down to fourth. At 70mph, the engine is turning at just under 3,000rpm which means the cabin remains quiet on longer journeys.

The ride can be a bit bumpy, but at no point did it feel unstable or unsettled at motorway speeds. The brakes are perfectly balanced and easy to get used to; unlike the previous RenaultSport Twingo which feel far too sharp around town.

Gear changes could be smoother though. Engine vibration travels up through the gear lever when you accelerate too. It's not a nice feeling if you're still holding the gearknob.

On the road prices start from £10,350. It's slightly cheaper than the rival Fiat 500 but lacks the individuality offered by the Italian manufacturer inside which may put some buyers off.

As a complete package, I really liked the new Twingo and revised looks go a long way to improve the car's appeal. The 1.2 would make a perfect first car too and it can be specced out with optional stripes and stickers sets for a more personal touch. Don't let the colour put you off either, it's a very capable all-rounder.

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Renault Twingo Dynamique 1.2 16v: First drive review
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