Renault today unveiled its new 133bhp Twingo RS in Paris - with a little help from F1 stars Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jnr, who were in town for the launch of their R28 F1 car.
The Twingo RS has a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine that produces 20bhp more than the 1.2-litre turbo of the Twingo GT. There are cosmetic differences between the two cars as well, such as extended front and rear wings, a rear spoiler and a lower front bumper on the RS.
Renault Twingo RS v R28 confusion
'People want to have emotion,' said Renault president and CEO Carlos Ghosn. 'They want to imagine driving an F1 car and they want to have fun. The Twingo RS will give them the emotion they want.' Hmmm, while we agree with the sentiment, we can't imagine many drivers confusing their Twingo for the R28.
The Twingo RS will go on-sale in the autumn with a price tag between £12-£13k. In the meantime, it won’t be seen again in public until the Geneva Motor Show in March 2008.
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Launching the Renault R28 F1 car
With Fernando Alonso driving for them, Renault won back-to-back World Championships in 2005 and ’06. Without him in ’07, they were nowhere.
'Last season was a disaster,' said Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore at the launch of the team’s new R28 in Paris. 'This season we have Fernando back where he belongs, with the Renault family, and I hope that we can challenge for the podium at every race and score the occasional win.'
These are ambitious targets for a team that scored only one podium last year, in the rain-affected Japanese GP. But that is what Renault believe the ‘Alonso factor’ to be worth.
Alonso in shakedown tests
Fernando shook down the new car last week and reported that more development work was needed. 'There are no problems with it,' he said, 'but we need to develop it as fast as we can before the first race.'
For the second successive year, the double World Champion has a rookie team-mate. He suffered at the hands of Lewis Hamilton last year and he has Nelson Piquet Jnr to contend with in ’08, and it will be no easy task. In GP2, Piquet Jnr – son of triple World Champion Nelson Snr – outqualified Hamilton more often than not. Get ready for more fireworks.