Renault kills Twingo 133 – what’s next for the little RS hot hatch?

Published: 02 August 2013

The new Renault Twingo is only months away, so Renault has killed off production of the outgoing RS 133 model. It could spell the end of naturally aspirated Renaultsport– and be the final city-car sized export from Dieppe. Read on for the full story.

Why so much love for the outgoing Renaultsport Twingo 133?

Because while halo cars like the Peugeot 208 GTi and VW Golf GTI try to evoke memories of great hot hatches gone by, the RS Twingo actually drives like one. It’s lightweight, at only 1050kg, and uses a revvy, naturally aspirated engine rather than depending on turbo boost. The 1.6-litre unit only develops 133bhp (at a lofty 6750rpm) and 118lb ft, but wringing out the engine near its redline to scrabble as much power as possible through the dinky 16in front wheels is a recipe for hot hatch greatness.

Add in a chuckable, rewarding chassis honed by Renault’s hot hatch skunkworks and you’ve got a drivers’ tonic that’ll be sadly missed. At less than £14k, it’s only matched by the 134bhp Suzuki Swift Sport for bargain pocket rocket bragging rights. Renault UK has ten untouched examples left in stock, so if you fancy one, you’d better be quick…

Aren’t I better off waiting for the new RS Twingo?

Don’t bet on it – the hot Twingo might be gone for good. The reason? It’s because the new Twingo will be rear-engined and rear-wheel drive, as previewed by the Twin-Z and TwinRun concept cars.

The rear-biased layout is a space-saving measure, dictated by the new Twingo’s destiny to share parts with the next-generation Smart family, which will all use a purely rear-engined set-up. It sounds like the perfect mix of tidy packaging and exciting dynamics, but Renault bosses are reportedly rattled by a hot RWD Twingo production car being too lairy for novice customers to handle...

If it gets the go-ahead, what’s the proposed spec?

CAR hears that if approved, the new RS Twingo is unlikely to be naturally aspirated, opting instead for a downsized turbo unit to meet future EU emissions legislation. The most likely candidate is a breathed-on version of the 90bhp, 0.9-litre three-pot seeing duty in the current Clio and Captur. Like the current RS Clio 200 Turbo, a dollop more torque will take precedent over a headline-grabbing power figure.

Another Clio-pinched idea is to only offer the next-gen Twingo as a five-door. Enthusiasts might bemoan the heavier, less focused spec, but Renault’s research suggests family-friendly bodystyles outsell three-doors sufficiently to render the latter obsolete. And besides, fabricating one bodyshell saves costs, which is the name of the game for Renault at the moment.

One crumb of comfort for old-school hot hatch lovers is the likelihood of a future RS Twingo retaining a manual gearbox. Though quick-shifting and efficient, the RS Clio’s dual-clutch ‘EDC’ ’box is likely to be too big, heavy, and expensive to be viable in an entry-level RS model.

>> Renault’s future is entwined with French rally legends Alpine – read CAR’s complete analysis here