Renault Twingo and Clio Grand Tour

Published: 08 March 2007

French but sans le funky look

A busy show stand for Renault – as well as unveiling its new Twingo city car, the French manufacturer pulled the wraps off a thinly disguised version of its upcoming Clio estate to take on its Fabia and Peugeot 207 wagon rivals. After the funked up coolness of the Twingo concept car shown at the Paris Motor Show last year, we are more than a little underwhelmed by the production Twingo. Renault is keen to move away from the utilitarian look and feel of the original model – it will leave cheap and cheerful sales to the Clio Campus – and pitch the new model at sharper-suited rivals like the Mini. But its rather frumpy uninspiring looks aren’t going to help it much.

Turbo power for well-heeled people

When the Twingo arrives here in September, there will be two engines and two trim levels – GT and Dynamique – from which to choose, with prices starting around the £8000 mark. Both powerplants are 16-valve 1.2-litre units producing 75bhp in naturally aspirated form, and 100bhp with a turbocharger, both hooked up to five-speed manual gearboxes. No diesels are planned because demand wouldn’t, Renault claims, justify the investment costs. Despite measuring a full 200mm shorter than the Clio, Renault claims the Twingo is still a full four-seater, with the two individual rear seats sliding and folding independently of one another to boost luggage space from 165 to 959 litres. Kit levels will be generous, including a ‘TunePoint’ MP3 and USB compatible audio system, and Renault will offer a very long list of options, allowing buyers to personalise their cars – and boost Renault’s bottom line. And in an interesting move, Renault only expects the Twingo to achieve a four-star Euro NCAP crash rating, claiming that achieving the full five stars would have cost too much.

Grand Tour – French for estate

It’s called Grand Tour, but don’t be fooled – add a pair of rear doors, ditch the big wheels and the glitzy details and you have the Clio estate. Sharing the same wheelbase as the three- and five-door Clio hatch, the estate will also use the same line-up of petrol and diesel powertrains and transmissions. It arrives this time next year, and prices should start from £10,000.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

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