What do you think of when you think of ?hot hatches?? The Mk1 Golf Gti, surely? Fiesta XR2? Vauxhall Nova? Something newer? How about the Peugeot 205 Gti or Civic Type-R?
All worthy claimants to the hot hatch mantle but that?s too obvious for us here at Gallery. You may have noticed that this month?s theme is ?decades? and if there?s one type of car that?s survived through the decades since the 70?s it?s the hot hatch and we wanted to see how one manufacturers? take on the hot hatch theme has changed.
A Renault Twingo? Aren?t they those ugly things that only French people ever bought? Hardly a hot hatch. Not any more.
With the imminent release of the Twingo Sport 130 we were keen to see what the current range topper, the GT 100 was capable of. So what has this got in common with previous hot Renaults?
When other manufacturers were busy shoehorning in bigger and bigger engines, Renault thought out of the box and gave us the Renault 5 GT Turbo sporting a mere 1.4 litre motor but with a turbocharger to boost (quite literally) the output of their pocket rocket and they?ve done just that with the Twingo GT 100 too. This prompted is to test the Twingo as opposed to the latest in a line of hot Clios that began in the 90?s with the Clio Williams as it?s just, well, a bit different.
We?re told it?s the performance of a 1.6 litre car but with the insurance premium and economy of a 1.2 litre car and that?s no lie. I can honestly say that it feels about as punchy and capable as a 2 litre Golf, which isn?t surprising considering the Twingo is only 15hp shy of the Golf and a miles lighter to boot.
You really notice the torque at around 2500rpm when accelerating in all of the gears (up to 40mph, officer) with peak torque at a mere 3000rpm, all 145nm of it which isn?t to be sniffed at in a so called ?micro-hatch?. Fascinatingly though there is no lag, noticeable torque steer or any of the other negative aspects usually associated with turbocharged cars and coupled with what seems to be a very capable chassis that isn?t hiding any nasty surprises when it comes to somewhat enthusiastic cornering the GT 100 is a hoot and the 130 Sport is sure to be a force to be reckoned with at any traffic light GP.
Despite managing the 0-60 sprint in a respectable 9.8 seconds and not running out of puff until a claimed 117 mph the Twingo GT 100 still manages to be environmentally conscious, creating the least CO2 of any 100hp car and returns 47.8mpg on a combined cycle. Thrifty, AND nifty.
On the inside you?re greeted with just a rev counter in front of you and a giant digital speedo display in the centre of the dash which not only looks great but is easily visible ? so much so that it?s a good job that the GT comes with tinted rear and side windows to stop Mr Plod seeing your giant digital speed readout should you be caught on the wrong side of 40mph whilst enjoying our quiet country lanes.
Air conditioning comes as standard, as does a full length tinted glass roof, the front of which tilts and slides electronically and helps to give the illusion of greater headroom for rear seat passengers ? not that it isn?t ample mind you, all but the tallest of people will have no problems sitting in the rear of the car thanks to the sliding rear seats which allow you to trade off boot space for legroom and vice versa.
Other standard gadgets include electric windows, electric mirrors, ABS and a CD player, with optional Bluetooth and iPod (other digital personal music players are available) connectivity, parking sensors and a range of exterior decals and stripes to name but a few extras available to make the car your very own.
I must admit that the CD player housing seems somewhat odd, as do the two tone dash and door cards but these are tiny gripes and fortunately the interior seems sturdy and hard wearing unlike most other French cars that have preceded it!
The quirky styling continues outside, combining curves with flat surfaces and defining lines in what most will consider to be a ?Marmite? car ? at first I loved the slightly bulbous but friendly look of the front but wasn?t so sure about the angular rear but it all makes sense when it comes to keeping the car compact. So much so that I almost didn?t believe my eyes when I read the tyrewall that stated the car was on 15? rims, the Twingo GT manages to make them look deceivingly small.
All in all, the Twingo GT 100 might not quite win over people looking at buying, say a Fiesta ST, Suzuki Swift or Volkswagen Polo GTi it?s definitely worth considering if you?re after an affordable, good looking and surprisingly practical small car that?s fun to drive AND cheap to run ? and let?s not forget about cutting down our CO2 emissions either people.
Oh, but if you are thinking of buying that Fiesta, Swift, Polo, Corsa or similar small hot hatch it might be worth waiting for the Twingo Sport 130 to arrive ? I?ve got a feeling it?s going to take a few people by surprise.