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I bought a 1997 poppy red Twingo 1.2 MPI with full range equipment (all the goodies) when the Twingo was vogue at its best for my wife on her birthday.
My wife instantly fell in love with her B-day gift. The cute little rascal was really loveable. My wife named it "croaky" after the toad-like looks of the hood and headlights.
We gave it away after we both drove it for a staggering 225,000 kms. (Mind you; the engine had still a lot to go before overhaul)
* * * Body :
The cute little-big design gives the illusion that the car is a tiny micro. But when you get into it, you suddenly find out that the car is a shrinked MPV but not a micro three door.
The body is sound, especially the A and C pillars are really tough. The B pillar is also tough but is compromised by the door opening. If only the doors were on the top, the car would have been virtually indestructible.
Some find the toad-eye front end lovely (like my wife did) some find it incedibly ugly. I am in between...
Wheel well to tyre clearances are very limited. Avoid overloading.
It is good practice to have a wrench set and a phillips screwdriver handy for tightening bolts and screws every now and then for the Fremch apparently designed this car for silk smooth roads whereas Paris actually has very rough roads (!) Otherwise be prepard for rattles and chatters from body panels and or trim.
The body is hard to corrode. The multi layer primer paint proves to be a hard shell. However, since an environment friendly lead free paint was used, the paint's lustre is very weak against bird droppings, tree sap and acid rain. If you enjoy polishing and waxing every single Sunday, then this baby will turn it into Funday.
* * * Interior :
Seats are too soft and the backrests are apparently for short people. This however is overcome by tall headrests. The rear seat fold assymetrically and travel for some 17cms. on their rails. Loading mid size cargo is easy.
The dashboard is well laid out. The very simple digital instrument cluster is placed in the middle and very easy to read with those huge digits. The A/C and ventilation controls are very efficiently designed and placed.
The forward leaning front seats ease the backseat access.
* * * Engine and Mechanics :
The 1.2 MPI provides good power and torque with modest consumption. You may easily expect to cover some 650 kms with the 45 liter tank full of unleaded gasoline. This will be particularly easy with a digital speedometer showing even the 1-km incrementals.
Acceleration is modest with the some 10 kgm torque. Don't you dare trying to overtake in a narrow margin after seeing that BMW 325i do it. You won't ever make it...
The gears shift smoothly with the ratios very well put.
Since the shocks' travel (stroke) is very short, avoid going very fast into large bumps (especially speed breakers) on the road. Nasty knocks and even exploded shocks may result.
Since the ground clearance is very low, be vaery careful to park on concrete, gravel or dry soil when you go out for a picnic. Do not imagine going for the picnic you see on the car's sales brochure. If you park over dry grass whatsoever, the extremely hot catalytic convertor will leave you pouring all your drinks on the grass wildfire it causesd to break out.
Steering is electrically assisted. This is actually the first electrically assisted speed sensitive driving system every built, no matter what VW claims for the new Golf. The steering lacks feel until you get used to it.
Brakes are typical Renault. Weak and poorly balanced. Practice and get used to the braking attitude of the car before hitting the road for long travels. The ABS kicks in right on time though.
Don't even imagine DIY on the engine and mechanics. The very cramped engine bay and tiney clearances require very special tools found only at authorised Renault mechanical stations.
Stability on the road is impaired by the very light weight. An 18 wheeler will cause quite much of adrenaline. Headwinds cause severe speed-bleed and at the end if you try to race against the wind, you will end up using up your tank much sooner.
Overall, the mechanics are weak. Don't imagine using this car for your daily dairy deliveries. Instead this car is meant to drive you to and from work, going a couple of kms to take a break.
* * * Finale :
This is a daily driver. If you are single, a couple with a single child and don't carry too much along, this car will earn your affection. Depreciation is not a big problem in a big city because many people need this size for use of hard to find parking places.
This is actually a car next to the Smart.
Buy it ? If I found a brand new one, I would not hesitate to...
Very technical review of a fantastic fun car.
Oh, the joy on the kid's faces when I moved the rear seat backwards and gave them legroom better than a luxury saloon.
Nar 12.04.2004 20:15
What a shame..once again youve reviewed a car that cannot be purchased in the UK (Hyundai Starex was the first) so it doesnt give much people an idea of what this car looks like. The Twingo is based on the venerable Renault 5 mechanicals which Im still led to believe is in production in Slovenia. Its hard to believe that a car based on such mechanicals would do so lowly when it comes to driving on rough roads. However your review is a fair one.
purplelynne 12.04.2004 11:01
I hadn't heard of this make of car before, thanks. Lynne X