Renault Twin-Z concept (2013) first official pictures

Published: 08 April 2013

This is the Renault Twin-Z concept (say it 'Twin-Zee'). Although it packs the usual concept car madness of suicide doors, a pared-back cabin and LEDs everywhere, it actually previews the look – and drivetrain – of the next Renault Twingo. The big news is that it'll be rear-engined, rear-drive, and offer an electric option for less money than the £13k Renault Zoe EV. Read on as we split production-ready fact from concept-car fantasy.

Tell me about the Renault Twin-Z's crazy side

Let's start inside, with the complete lack of dashboard, or centre console. All interior clutter has been binned, with only four minimalist seats and a Samsung-developed touchscreen infotainment interface remaining. Inlaid into the door panels and seats are numerous strips of LED mood lighting – the theme of the Twin-Z concept is 'fun', hence the lairy, colourful touches throughout.

The doors are worth a mention too: the Twin-Z uses a 'suicide door' system, with rear-hinged back doors like those you'll find on a Rolls-Royce Phantom (or the old Mazda RX-8). They open electrically on the concept, and the front doors incorporate cameras instead of traditional rear-view mirrors. These features will predictably not make production, but Renault did confirm that production Twingos (due in late 2014) will be five-door only, like its Clio big brother.

Other arty touches include the LEDs that sweep from front grille, over the roof and down to the rear bumper, a solid crystal rear spoiler, and the intricate 18in wheels. Think they look like seaweed? That's because the Twin-Z's chief designer, British artist Ross Lovegrove, bases most of his creations around inspiration from the natural world. Continuing the eco-theme, the Twin-Z is built from recycled materials, and uses a zero-emission powertrain.

Let's talk tech: what's the Renault Twin-Z powered by?

A rear-mounted 68bhp electric motor, powered by underfloor lithium-ion cells, and driving the rear wheels. All 2014 Renault Twingos – using Smart-shared petrol engines or battery power – will be rear-engined/rear-drive, thanks to Renault building its new city car alongside the new Smart city car family, which will all use rear-engined, RWD components. It's this parts-interchange that's also responsible for the five-door bodystyle – the next Twingo will share much with the next Smart ForFour supermini.

The Twin-Z concept is made of carbonfibre, thoughat 980kg it weighs in 30kg heavier than the current Twingo, thanks to the hefty batteries. It's likely that despite a switch to steel bodyshells, the next Twingo will be lighter than the current car, as Renault looks to diet its entire range.

When can I buy Renault's rear-drive Twingo?

The third-gen Twingo, complete with boxy Twin-Z-inspired styling, is slated for a late 2014 European launch, though it could be spring 2015 before right-hand-drive models reach UK shores. Renault says it's too early to confirm prices for the car, but did hint it'd come in under £10k, and offer a basic electric version for comfortably less than the trendier Zoe EV, which sells for £13,560 plus a £70 monthly battery lease.

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