Twingo, Twingo, little star
Renault Twingo SCe 70
Price £9,995, as tested £10,200
Max speed 94mph
0-62mph 14.5 seconds
Renault Twingo Energy TCe 90
Price £11,695, as tested £13,515
Max speed 103mph
The all-new Renault Twingo is one of the easiest cars to park that I’ve come across lately. (Auto-park doesn’t count). One reason – strange as it may seem – is that the engine is in the back.
The Twingo is a smart car in more ways than one. Renault has worked with Smart to develop a pair of twins, and they will share engines and underpinnings.
The new car needed to be cute and to evoke the character of the old Twingo, so the team wanted a short front end. But modern pedestrian safety regulations make many new noses rather bulbous. The obvious answer was to put the tiny three-cylinder engine in the rear between the back wheels.
The car's fluids and battery are still stashed in the front, but the bonnet is plastic, and there's plenty of space above the hard bits that might cause injuries.
The short nose gives excellent forward visibility and, without an engine in the way, the front wheels can turn 45 degrees, hence the easy parking.
The engine is hidden beneath a metal cover in the back. It's easy to take the cover off to check the oil, but most of the time, you can forget about it, and the noise is much reduced, compared with an engine revving away just ahead of you.
It does mean quite a high load floor, but it's flat from the sill forwards, and if you fold one back seat and the front seat down you can get an IKEA Billy bookcase in the back.
There are lots of other thoughtful storage touches, too, such as a removable storage bucket for sunglasses, applecores sweeties and other junk between the front seats, and cubby holes under the rear seats with nets to hold in the bits and bobs.
One the road
So what's it like to drive? There are two versions, the SCe 70 with a 999cc 70bhp engine and the Energy TCe 90 with a turbocharged 898cc 90bhp unit.
Both are lively and chuckable, with a slick five-speed manual gearbox, although the 70 struggles up steep hills and its very light steering needs rather too much arm-twirling for my tastes. The 90 is more fun and makes more growly noises, its steering felt firmer, and gave more feedback.
As mentioned before, the engine noise is muted, but that tends to highlight other sounds, so road noise and wind noise both make themselves heard on fast roads.
It probably hasn't got the image of a Fiat 500 or Mini, but then it doesn't have the price tag either, starting at below £10,000. That's seriously good value.