All-New Renault Twingo with Rear Drive Setup and Plenty of Character [25 Photos & Video]

Looks like French carmakers are slowly starting to get their acts together (and perhaps their mojo too), as shortly after the disclosure of Citroen’s intriguing C4 Cactus compact crossover, it’s Renault’s time to have us looking over one its models with interest: the third generation Twingo, which was officially undressed today ahead of a world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

With the new model that trots out a little over two decades after the original Twingo (1993-2007) and its Betty Boop face surprised European consumers, Renault is literally turning things around in the city car segment.

You see, instead of following the traditional approach in the category, as they did in the recent past with the stale and sober second-gen Twingo (2007 to present), the French, in cooperation with Daimler, decided to try something different: a city car with five doors and a rear-engine, rear driver layout – yes, just like the Porsche 911 or if you prefer, the original VW Beetle.

On its behalf, Daimler will use the platform and powertrain components stemming from their business agreement on the next iterations of the Smart ForTwo and ForFour.

Since you’ll surely be wondering about the benefits of this setup (yes, aside from the possibility of fooling around on the road if you’re able to turn off the electronic nannies), Renault says that it offers “agile handling” and enhanced space.

“Positioning the engine at the rear is a significant plus for a small city car since it frees up the front end and considerably improves the turning circle. Indeed, New Twingo is surprisingly manoeuvrable in built-up areas and parking calls for only a few turns of the steering wheel,” states the French firm.

“Combined with the use of a smaller block and the positioning of the wheels at the car’s extreme corners, the rear-mounted engine also frees up extra cabin space, while New Twingo also boasts the sort of wheelbase and roomy interior more generally associated with models in the next segment up,” Renault added in the press statement.

At this time, Renault has not issued anything in regards to the car’s dimensions (though, we suspect it will measure about the same as the Smart ForFour at around 3.5 meters long) and powertrains (we hear it will be offered with a new family of 3-cylinder units paired to manual or dual-clutch transmissions), nor has it released photos of the interior yet.

We left the exterior styling for last. Renault didn’t exactly catch us by surprise, as it had more or less laid out its intentions through the Twin’Z and Twin’Run concept cars in 2013. While I see a lot of Renault 5 and a little bit of Fiat 500 flair in the new Twingo, understandably, the French only see the former.

“New Renault Twingo was inspired not only by the original Twingo, but also by the Renault 5,” said Renault’s design boss, Laurens van den Acker. “It is a modern take on the city car genre with the accent on innovation in terms of its lines and architecture. New Twingo is a fun, playful and vibrant city car.”

From these pictures at least, the new Twingo seems to have a robust feeling to it, as if it was sculpted out from a single piece of metal, while it also looks less feminine than other city cars on the market right now. Two details that we noticed from the images are the hidden rear door handles, and the pop-out rear windows.

Renault said that it will offer a wide range of colors and personalization options for the exterior trim features like the door mirrors, side protective moldings and decals. We assume the same will hold true for the interior as well.

Further details about the Twingo will be shared at the Geneva motor show next month.

By John Halas

PHOTO GALLERY



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