Just over a week from now DR will be flying to Portugal for the international launch of the Twingo 133, and I for one can’t wait to discover what Renaultsport’s latest creation is like.
For those of you unfamiliar with the hot Twingo’s vital stats, here’s a quick recap: Renault hasn’t released any performance or weight figures yet, but we’re guessing it’ll weigh just over a ton, crack 60mph in 9sec and top-out at 120mph or so. It costs £11,500 and is powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine developing 133bhp and 118lb ft of torque. A lower, stiffer ‘Cup’ chassis option – complete with 17in alloys and 195/40 tyres – costs an extra £650 and will be available from launch. Sounds good doesn’t it?
Perhaps it’s because the 133 comes at a time when our world is pulsating with 650bhp Mercs and near-500bhp Nissans but there’s something genuinely refreshing about the concept of a diminutive but sharply focussed hot hatchback. Don’t get me wrong, I love the current crop of top-end metal as much as the next man, but I still have extremely fond memories of a year living with Fiat’s Panda 100HP.
Much against my expectations I was completely won over by its manic enthusiasm, and even turned a blind eye to its truly awful ride. Despite its flaws it was a continual reminder that small power needn’t be a barrier to big fun. Fiat has since proved there’s a huge appetite for exciting, stylish small performance cars with Abarth versions of the 500 and Punto, and Renaultsport clearly has the same idea: it will soon have an enviable range of hot hatches starting with the Twingo 133 and culminating in the hardcore Megane R26R.
So, am I alone, or are you excited by Renaultsport’s new baby too? What are you expecting from it? What does it need to achieve to be a success, and what shortcomings would lead you to think it a wasted opportunity?