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Renault shows what makes a small car great at SMMT

22 January 2015 #SMMT News #Uncategorised

New Renault Twingo, Twingo Mk 1 and Renault 4CV at SMMT

The latest Renault Twingo was officially launched last year to a huge media buzz. Its rear-engined platform, evocative styling and iconic name have already captured the imagination of many a car enthusiast.  However, the Twingo’s critical acclaim should come as no surprise; Renault has over eight decades of experience in making small, economical cars. Here’s what makes its small cars great.


Renault 4CV, known as the Renault 750 in the UK, built in Acton, UK.As the Second World War broke, company founder Louis Renault set about designing a small family car to cope in times when resources were tight. While Germany occupied its country and its factory, Renault engineers set about developing the 4CV in secret.

As peace fell, Renault’s predictions came true and Europe was penniless.  The 4CV became the first French car to top one million units, and even went into production in the UK as the Renault 750. The example on display at SMMT was purchased in 1956 for £599, three shillings and fourpence – about £13,700 today.

New Renault Twingo and first-generation 1992 Renault Twingo Similarly, the first generation Twingo was sold in France for FF 55,000, around £10,500 today. In the early ‘90s, the UK’s Mini segment accounted for less than 1% of the overall new car market, so Renault couldn’t justify producing a right hand drive model, meaning the car never crossed the Channel.


Renault 4CV has a 750cc rear mounted four cylinder engineNot just affordable to buy, Renault’s small cars have historically been cheap to run. The 4CV sipped fuel from a 21bhp 750cc petrol engine, making the out-dated Austin Eight’s 900cc and VW Beetle’s 1.0 engines look excessive.

The first generation Twingo followed suit, with a 54bhp 1.2 engine achieving nearly 50mpg. This was achieved in part due to Renault’s drive to reduce cost and weight; the Twingo had one large windscreen wiper instead of two, there was no option to have electric windows or power steering, and the front seats were built in one piece.

New Renault Twingo delivers 67mpg and less than 100g/km CO2Fast-forward to 2014 and the new Twingo is carrying on the tradition. Powered by either a 70bhp 1.0 naturally aspirated petrol engine, or a 90bhp 900cc turbocharged unit, the Twingo can achieve up to 67.3mpg. All variants produce less than 100g/km CO2, meaning that VED is free as well.


Renault 4CV has suicide doors

Even in the late 1930s, at the conception of the 4CV, Renault knew that getting the packaging right was crucial. Mounting the tiny engine at the rear created a longer cabin and a flat floor pan, meaning it could comfortably seat four people despite only being 3.6 metres long. Hinging the front and rear doors to the B-pillar not only saved cost, but also allowed both doors to open to nearly 90 degrees, ensuring easy access despite its miniscule dimensions

The Renault Twingo is a masterclass in small car designWhen the Twingo launched in 1992, Patrick le Quement’s design was a masterclass in small car packaging. The car’s wheels were pushed as far to each corner as possible to maximise interior space, while oversized windows ensured the cabin remained light and airy.


Interior of 1992 Renault Twingo

A sliding rear bench seat meant passengers could strike the right balance between space and practicality, while luxuries such as a glovebox or a tachometer weren’t options. In fact, when it went on sale, there were no optional extras available on the car.

2014 new Renault Twingo interiorThe latest Twingo caters for the contemporary customer’s demand for more equipment and connectivity: the highest-specification models feature a touchscreen infotainment system, while lesser models can use an attachment to mount their smartphone to the dashboard, acting as a navigation and infotainment dock.

2014 New Renault TwingoThe new Twingo has combined the ethos of both the 4CV and first-generation Twingo in its architecture. The engine is mounted at the rear to once again free up cabin space – a new platform which Renault has jointly engineered with Daimler – while the wheels are located at the very edge of each corner for a longer wheelbase.


1992 Renault Twingo mk1 interior

What the first generation Twingo lacked in equipment, it made up for in style. By the mid-‘90s it was the vehicle of choice for mainland Europe’s Generation X, with 2.3 million sold over 14 years. The exterior was utilitarian but playful, while the sparse interior was livened up by aquamarine switches and door handles. Despite its low cost, it featured a cutting-edge digital instrument read-out mounted at the driver’s eye-level.

2015 new Renault Twingo interior

The new Twingo is equally as stylish; the front end evokes memories of the Renault 5 Turbo, while a dramatically raked rear end hints at its engine configuration. Splashes of colour throughout the interior once again enliven a functional cabin.

2015 New Renault Twingo


The new Renault Twingo, first-generation Twingo and 4CV are currently on display at SMMT’s headquarters in Westminster.

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