Renault Twingo review:
Renaultsport 133 Silverstone GP
by David Finlay (5 January 2012)
Both I and the colleague with whom I shared the Twingo Renaultsport are above-averagely large, and the contrastingly petite dimensions of the car forced a certain intimacy between us. But we still had to shout to make ourselves heard.
We bawled our agreement that this car had the highest interior noise levels of anything we'd driven in many a long year. Despite its obvious sportiness, this has nothing to do with the engine, which isn't especially loud. It seems to be the combination of lowish-profile tyres and low-quality, not very sound-absorbent plastic trim that causes the problem.
Well, I say "problem". It's quite possible that anyone who wants a small, cheap performance car isn't going to be too worried about how noisy it is as long as it's small, is cheap and performs. The more important thing is how much fun it is, and believe me, it is a huge amount of fun.
The 1.6-litre engine produces 133bhp, which is not a startling amount in itself but has a big effect in a car the size and weight of the Twingo. Since maximum power is produced up at 6750rpm you do have to keep the revs well up to get the best of the performance, though you can still cover the ground pretty quickly even when the engine isn't operating to its fullest extent.
Straightline speed is, however, hardly an issue at all next to how the hottest Twingo handles. At this point it's important to stress that the Silverstone GP Limited edition tested here is mechanically the same as the cheaper 133 Cup; it therefore has what Renault describes as the "Cup chassis" which consists of stiffer springs and dampers than those fitted to the regular Renaultsport Twingo, a very slightly lower ride height and 195/40 tyres on 17" wheels.
Not having driven the non-Cup version I can't say how much difference they make. I can say, however, that the Cup is just tremendous on twisty country roads. I drove it over a route which I will not identify and which may or may not have been near a city whose name I decline to confirm might be an anagram of "Glsagow" - a route I've taken many times in the past, discovering that some cars are not nearly as good as you'd hoped they would be while others are better than you could have imagined.
The Twingo is in the latter group. On fast and slow corners, on smooth and very much not smooth surfaces it was quite brilliant. It went exactly where I wanted it to go at - within reason - whatever speed I chose. Nothing I did made the front end difficult to hold on to, while the tail was responsive enough to keep the whole car on line without once sliding or skipping away from where it should have been.
Although I would almost certainly go irretrievably loopy - not to mention even more deaf than I am already - if I had to drive it every day, for occasional use this is a wonderful machine. I'm not convinced that Renault always does a good job of making a hot hatch, but on this evidence there is no doubt that it can if it tries.