What is it?
The facelifted version of the smallest Renaultsport car, the Twingo 133. It’s powered by a 131bhp naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, and prices start at £13,765.
Coming just four years after the original RS Twingo was launched, this is a mild reworking of that earlier car. There’s a new front-end design to bring the looks into line with the rest of the Renaultsport range, new light clusters and a bigger spoiler at the rear, some tweaks to the interior, and the addition of Liquid Yellow paint to the options list (albeit at £1300!).
Mechanically, the car is pretty much as before, although its emissions have been cleaned up a smidgeon, falling from 155g/km to 150. Claimed power and torque are unchanged at 131bhp and 118lb ft respectively.
What’s it like to drive?
That depends on whether you spec the £700 Cup chassis or not. Without it, the 133 has a nicely judged suspension set-up for a modern junior hot hatch. It feels sporty, generates plenty of grip and allows you to make the most of the modest performance on offer.
The Cup chassis tightens things up another notch. It’s perfect for trackdays, but on the road you’ll find yourself pogo-ing in your seat along bumpier tarmac; it can even be a limiting factor on particularly poor surfaces. It’s bearable for the driver (just), but your passengers will complain. A lot. The payback, however, is fabulously instant and accurate responses to your steering inputs.
On both set-ups the Renault Twingo 133’s light 1050kg kerb weight is obvious, helping the brakes feel strong (despite looking tiny), and ensuring brisk acceleration (0-62mph takes 8.7sec). The shift action from fourth to fifth is a bit obstructive, though – we’ve experienced this on two different cars, suggesting it’s normal.
How does it compare?
The Renaultsport Twingo 133’s most obvious rival is the Suzuki Swift Sport. Although the Renault is now well equipped as standard, with manual air conditioning, Bluetooth, cruise control, electric door mirrors and a USB socket for iPods and the like, the Swift – which is £16 cheaper – tops this with keyless go, a six-speed gearbox, automatic air con and xenon headlamps also on its standard kit list.
The 134bhp Swift is a great drive too. In fact it beat the Twingo in a recent evo twin test, although it must be said that some in the evo office still prefer the more hardcore Twingo.
The 120bhp, £14,900 Mini Cooper is another rival worth considering, while a barely used 197bhp Renaultsport Clio 200 would make an interesting alternative.
Anything else I need to know?
The Twingo 133 with the Cup chassis was half a second quicker than the Suzuki Swift Sport around a lap of the Bedford Autodrome’s West Circuit when we timed the two. Not that lap times are everything, you understand…