A five-door hatchback with a little extra pop

Here in the U.S., the “city car” (a.k.a. sub-compact, supermini, or kei car) is still a bit of an oddity, but overseas, it’s much more established. One of the leaders in this space is French automaker Renault, which produces several urban-friendly models, including the Twingo. First debuting at the Paris Motor Show in 1992, the original Twingo was a FWD three-door hatchback. The second generation dropped in 2007, followed by the third-gen Twingo III at the Geneva Motor Show in 2014. Co-developed with Daimler’s Smart division, the third gen gained two doors and moved the drivetrain to the rear, eventually gaining widespread critical praise for its styling and fun factor. But some enthusiasts were left wanting more, so in a bid to spark a little extra excitement, Renault has unveiled the Twingo GT, which comes with performance-oriented aesthetics like racing stripes and 17-inch alloys, interior upgrades like new trim and aluminum pedals, and 20 extra horsepower complemented by a retuned suspension.

The last time we saw a sporty Twingo was in 2012 with the RS 133, and while many found it endlessly entertaining, others couldn’t help but feel as though the lack of output was a bit out of sync with the RS badge. This time around, Renault is instead blessing the new hatch with the GT nomenclature, all while instilling the tiny turn-burner with characteristic Renault Sport handling.

So then, is it a hot hatch, or just lukewarm? Read on to find out.

Continue reading to learn more about the Renault Twingo GT.

Exterior

2017 Renault Twingo GT High Resolution Exterior
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Quickly glancing at the exterior of the Renault Twingo GT, it’s pretty obvious what inspired the styling upgrades. The GT carries the torch originally lit by the Twin’Run concept car, which was unveiled in May of 2013 boasting aesthetics that simply screamed performance. And while it’s not quite as over-the-top as the concept, the GT is still well equipped when it comes to visual speed.

The GT carries the torch originally lit by the Twin’Run concept car, which was unveiled in May of 2013 boasting aesthetics that simply screamed performance

The most eye-grabbing feature you’ll find on the exterior is undoubtedly the new GT-exclusive orange paint. However, if orange is a little too “pull-me-over-please” for your taste, Renault also offers more subtlety with the option for Lunar Grey, Diamond Black, and Crystal White.

That said, the Twingo GT probably wouldn’t be your first choice if you were looking to fly under the radar, as no matter what color of paint you go with, Renault also adds aircraft-inspired racing stripes. Starting on the hood and stretching across the roof, the stripes also enhance the shoulder lines in the flanks. They look good, and do well to up the car’s sporty appeal.

Additionally, there are new lateral air intakes, while the wheels are 17-inch alloys. These rollers look downright massive on the tiny Twingo, barely contained under the wheel wells and lowered ride height, coming wrapped with just a smear of low-profile rubber along the perimeter. In back are twin exhaust pipes with polished, rounded tips.

Interior

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Renault didn’t provide us with any shots of the interior, but did outline some of the basic upgrades it applied to give the hatch a sportier cabin.

To begin, there’s orange trim detailing the upholstery, which most likely complements individual sections that are finished in leather, given the material’s availability higher up in the model line. The GT is also equipped with alloy pieces for the pedals and shift knob, enhancing the performance flavoring even more. Finally, the doorsills announce an allegiance with Renault Sport.

Hopefully, we’ll get a better look at the interior when the car debuts later this month. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the availability of funky and brightly decorated color schemes, highly bolstered sport seats, and possibly even a larger dash-mounted touchscreen.

In terms of space, the Twingo III is shorter than the previous generation, which would normally translate into a small cabin. However, given the engine is positioned low in the rear and angled at 49 degrees, rear passenger space is surprisingly generous, albeit at the cost of cargo room. The GT is most likely a carryover in this respect.

Drivetrain

2017 Renault Twingo GT High Resolution Exterior
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Under the stripes and brightly colored paint, the Twingo GT is very similar to the Smart Forfour. The rear axle provides the go, with motive power routed from a turbocharged Energy TCe three-cylinder engine mounted in back. Displacement is rated at 898 cc, or 0.9 liters.

The GT gains a new intake and ECU tune, yielding 110 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque – a gain of 20 horsepower and 25 pound-feet.

In the standard Twingo, output is rated at 90 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. However, the GT gains a new intake and ECU tune, yielding 110 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque – a gain of 20 horsepower and 25 pound-feet.

While that might not sound very impressive, remember that we’re talking about a vehicle that weighs roughly 1,000 kg (2,205 pounds), not some multi-ton luxury sedan. Even 20 horsepower is enough to make a difference in the Twingo.

What’s more, the Twingo GT gets new (undoubtedly shorter) gearing, making the extra output that much more effective. As of this writing, official details are scarce, but it’s presumed the Twingo GT will use a revised version of the manual five-speed equipped by the standard model, rather than the optional six-speed automatic.

We’ll have to wait and see what the updates do for acceleration, but I’d expect a 0-to-60 mph run in the low eight-second range, with a top speed of 110 mph.

Chassis And Handling

2017 Renault Twingo GT High Resolution Exterior
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Ok, so it isn’t exactly fast in a straight line, and if eye-widening acceleration numbers are what you’re after, look elsewhere.

But the Twingo GT isn’t about the 0-to-60 mph run – it’s about fun in the twisty bits. With a low curb weight, short wheelbase, and rear-focused drivetrain, the Twingo is a riot in the corners, and the GT model manages to up the ante with just the right upgrades.

The electronic stability control was also tweaked, probably for a little extra slip when exploring the limits of adhesion

For starters, the suspension (MacPherson struts in front, De Dion tube in the rear) was revised for higher performance. Renault didn’t go into detail, but I assume this means stiffer components and more aggressive tuning. The electronic stability control was also tweaked, probably for a little extra slip when exploring the limits of adhesion. Topping it off is variable-rate steering, offering an adjustable ratio depending on the road speed.

The Twingo is already considered a solid performer in the bends, so I’m excited to see what these updates manage to do in the GT.

Prices

Renault has yet to reveal exact pricing for the Twingo GT, but considering the current range-topping model (the Dynamic S TCe) goes for around 13,500 pounds ($19,507 at current exchange rates, 06/06/2016), I wouldn’t be surprised to see the GT priced at 15,000 pounds ($21,675).

Unfortunately, we won’t be getting the go-faster Twingo here in the states, but U.K. customers should expect to pick one up as soon as this coming winter. Expect a formal public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed later this month, at which time additional details should come to light.

Competition

Suzuki Swift Sport

2012 Suzuki Swift Sport High Resolution Exterior
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The Japanese also know what it takes to make a car that’s quick and small, as is the case with the Suzuki Swift Sport. Also weighing in at about 2,200 pounds, the Suzuki uses a front-mounted 1.6-liter engine to send 136 horsepower through a six-speed manual gearbox, making it decently fast for the segment. Unfortunately, power is routed to the front axle on the Swift, which makes the RWD Twingo more exciting when it comes to apex hunting.

Read the full review here.

Fiat 500 Abarth

2015 Fiat 500 Abarth High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The 500 has been around for pretty much forever, and the latest Abarth model is a testament to that heritage. Under the attractive Italian styling lies a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine making a healthy 157 horsepower and 183 pound-feet of torque. The thing is, the 500 is likely heavier and more expensive than the Twingo GT, but it might be worth it for those looking for a little more refinement in their pocket rocket.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

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Renault says the Twingo allows you to treat the city like your playground, which makes the GT a kid with a pocket full of candy. The thing is, I want the full-on soda and cake frosting sugar rush – that is, something closer to what we saw in the Twin’Run. I want a mid-mounted V-6, with 320 horsepower and a six-speed sequential gearbox. I want double-wishbone suspension and a frickin’ roll cage.

Practical? Civil? Subtle? No, no, and definitely no.

So I guess for those living in the real world, the Twingo GT is a nice compromise. As I see it, the biggest benefit is the extra stick you get with the new tires and suspension, and for anyone residing in the European urban environment looking for a passenger vehicle with diminutive dimensions and zippy practicality, this Renault certainly fits the bill.

That said, I can’t help but cross my fingers for something even faster.

  • Leave it
    • Not exactly head-jerking acceleration
    • Suspension probably quite harsh for daily driving
    • More practical options available

Press Release

The new Twingo GT combines the inherent agility of Renault’s rear-wheel drive city car with Renault Sport’s expertise to deliver even more driving pleasure. Its 898cc Energy TCe turbo engine has been tuned to deliver 110 horsepower and 170Nm torque thanks to a revised air intake system and modified engine mapping, while different gearing further contributes to the new car’s sprightly, free-revving performance.

2017 Renault Twingo GT High Resolution Exterior
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In order to take advantage of this performance boost in total safety, the Twingo GT’s chassis features revised suspension, specific ESP calibration and variable-rate steering. The result is sharp handling and responsive steering feedback for precise cornering and outstanding road holding. These features combine to provide drivers of the Twingo GT with affordable pleasure behind the wheel.

Look inspired by the Twin’Run concept car

Easily recognisable thanks to its 17-inch wheels, lateral air intakes, twin exhaust tail pipe and new orange body colour, the Twingo GT’s sporty credentials and heritage are visible at first glance. The Twingo III’s lines, which drew their inspiration from the Twin’Run concept car, combine perfectly with the Twingo GT’s specific wheel design, NACA aircraft graphics – a tribute to the wings of the famous American plane – and lowered ride height to produce a head-turning look.

The Twingo GT comes in a choice of four colours, namely the new orange, Lunar Grey, Diamond Black and Crystal White, along with orange trim details in the cabin, Renault Sport-badged doorsills, aluminium pedals and an alloy gear lever knob.

2017 Renault Twingo GT High Resolution Exterior
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The Twingo GT will be available in the UK this winter.

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