Before the original Mini revolutionised the market with its front-engined layout, it was almost inconceivable to design a small car any other way than to put the engine at the rear. Marking a return to this layout is the third-generation Renault Twingo, which was unveiled via an unusual “strip tweet” event where dancers peeled a piece of camouflage off the car every time a viewer sent in a tweet.
The rear-engined, rear-wheel drive design is undoubtedly the result of the manufacturer’s decision to collaborate with Daimler in developing the car – the Twingo’s underpinnings are set to also appear on the next-generation smart fortwo and forfour. Renault claims the layout gives the car “agile handling” as moving the engine freed up space in front, allowing engineers to push for a tighter turning circle.
Previewed by not one, but two concept cars, the new Twingo’s design borrows heavily from Renault’s back catalog, notably the much-loved Renault 5. At the front is the now traditional Renault family face, with large headlights, a wide, narrow grille and a rather enormous diamond logo. Round LED daytime running lights appear underneath the grille, while a large air intake below gives the car a sort of wide grin.
The short overhangs and long wheelbase, another character brought on by the switch to the rear-engined layout, maximises interior space and gives the car a wide, planted stance. Prominent haunches tower over the wheels, which Renault claim is inspired by the 5 Turbo mid-engined rally special. The rear is dominated by a full-length glass tailgate, while flush tail lights flare out as a “natural prolongation of the tailgate”.
The Renault Twingo is five-door only at the moment – the first in the model’s history – and the rear door handles are hidden behind the pop-out rear side windows. Available in four colours, the car is further customisable with a swathe of exterior trim and decal options, a trend that’s quickly becoming the norm in this segment (including Renault’s own Clio).
Aside from the engine and drivetrain layout, there have been no technical details released so far. No interior shown either – Renault is planning to have another reveal at the Geneva Motor Show next month. Could a more powerful version (possibly previewed by the Twin’Run concept last year) be in the works? A rear-engined, rear-wheel drive Twingo R.S. could be quite a fireball…