Renault Twingo GT

Renault Twingo GT, action front 2
Renault Twingo GT, dashboard
Renault Twingo GT, action front
Renault Twingo GT, side static
Renault Twingo GT, rear static
Renault Twingo GT, boot
Renault Twingo GT, rear seat
Renault Twingo GT, front seat
Renault Twingo GT, body detail

'RIGHT my fellow workers, the project this morning is to turn a smart looking but not very engaging little car into something that keen drivers will be queuing to buy.'

So might have run the meeting at Renault HQ when they decided to give their cheeky Twingo town runabout the GT treatment.

In other words, do to this intriguingly rear engined nipper what has made the Mini Cooper such an enduringly successful money spinner.

It is a well worn path to performance glory, of course. Make it go faster, ride a bit more sportingly and, above all, make sure you dramatically increase the grins per mile factor.

If that sounds simple, think again. It's all a matter of degree; so not too fast it's scary and not too stiff it rides like a skateboard.

Get it wrong and your souped up tearaway might end up giving a driver furrowed brows instead of cheek-to-cheek grins. And, sadly, that's what has happened here with the Twingo GT.

Yes, it goes with enough pep to entertain and makes the sort of grown up sporty noises that insist you should be enjoying yourself.

On the right road that is just about the case. We're talking smooth, as in billiard table, granite kitchen work surface, or German motorway.

A typical British road, on the other hand, has the Twingo GT turning nearly solid on its lowered and stiffened suspension, to the extent you will be slowing down to spare a passenger the indignity of asking anyway.

On the perfect road this pepped up Twingo, pushing a turbocharged 110 horses from its tiny 898cc engine, does get a shift on, returning a notable 46mpg on the trip computer in the process.

It also hits the benchmark 62mph in less than ten seconds. Which brings us to demerit number two...

Question: name another car with GT on its tail that didn't have a rev counter on the dash, telling you when to change gear while in playful mood? Answer, I think, is 'there aren't any.' Instead, you must rely on a little arrow that hints it's time for the next gear up.

But, and this is simply baffling, the MPH speedo needle is backed up by a digital readout that tells you your speed in kilometers per hour. How very useful (not) in non-metric Britain.

If this all smacks of a hazy approach to a performance upgrade, consider the ankle twisting lack of anywhere comfortable to rest your left foot, ready to pounce on the clutch when the gears need swapping in a hurry.

You might have hoped putting the engine behind you would free up room ahead for clutch foot comfort, but no.

Which is another reason to feel sad about a car that might have been a tempting teeny tearaway. It looks good, for starters, with handsome 17 inch alloy wheels, stretched wheel arches, rear spoiler and go-faster stripes adding a race track edge to a car that already looks a convincingly modern interpretation of a town car.

There are four doors and enough room in the rear to squeeze in a couple of adults. The turning circle is almost comically tight (think black cab handiness in town), and it's a doddle to park.

Inside, the good news continues, with part-leather trim, alloy gear knob and pedals and the most perfectly shaped steering wheel rim (nicely oval, not the fat roundness favoured by other go-faster upgrades).

Then there's a standard spec that takes in climate control, electric windows and door mirrors, auto lights, Bluetooth and a DAB tuner. For £600 you can add a touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera and upgraded sound system. Oh, and another twenty quid provides added storage space under the rear seats to complement the space in the modestly sized boot.

FAST FACTS

Renault Twingo GT

Price: £14,085

Mechanical: 108bhp, 898cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 113mph

0-62mph: 9.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 54.3

Insurance Group: 11

C02 emissions: 115g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 4yrs/100,000 miles

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