By on December 14, 2013

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Our friends at Jalopnik have an interesting history on the Renault Twingo, a car that is about to celebrate its 20th birthday, and has arguably entered the “small car hall of fame” alongside cars like the Mini and the Volkswagen Golf. You can read about its origins as a Polish people’s car and see how its strayed further and further away from the ideal. The next Twingo is slated to share a platform with the upcoming Smart Fortwo replacement, and that means a rear-engine, rear drive layout.

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56 Comments on “The Twingo Turns 20...”


  • avatar
    Flybrian

    Caption should read – “The New United Nations One World Shiny Happy Diversity Transport Carshare Module!”

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Wow, 20 huh?… seems like only yesterday

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Another reason I’m glad to be an American.

    Americans get cars with names like Challenger, Charger, Corvette, Mustang and Ram.

    Europeans have to make do with androgynous little cars with androgynous little names like Twingo, Punto and Niva.

    I mean, Punto? Sounds like something Chicano gangbangers call each other when they want to be insulting.

    I’d be proud to tell my friends about my new Charger.

    I tell them I’ve got a new Twingo, they’ll think I’ve gone all fruity on them and am using homosexual slang for a new gimp I just picked up in Frisco.

    • 0 avatar
      tinoslav

      Really? I have not heard a more stupid thing for a long time. The Renault Twingo and Lada niva are two seriously cool cars.

      Derek: Actuly the Polski Fiat 126 was the Polish people´s car
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_AP8-iKj2s
      I do not get from what source you have the infomation on Poland (you meant probably France?)

      • 0 avatar

        Tinoslav, Derek is actually talking about a concept developed by FSO (I think that’s the name), a Polish maker in communist times. They developed something that was mini and van-like. However, they never developed the idea. After that, the story gets murky, depending on the source. Some say Renault either paid FSo for the idea, “stole” the initial idea and developed it, or came at the same concept a bit later, but independently of the Polish original idea. Kind of like the first Espace and Chrysler minivans. Americans believe Chrysler invented the minivan, while most Europeans think it’s Renault. In either case the exact chronology and chain of events is all but impossible to determine.

    • 0 avatar
      Bob

      I would rather have a Twingo for a commuter. Charger sounds like you are overcompensating for having a small penis.

    • 0 avatar
      myheadhertz

      “…a new gimp I just picked up in Frisco”.
      in your Twingo Cabriolet

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      There’s nothing wrong with a Twingo! Sure, they’re fattening, but they are delicious.

      It’s not like we’re perfect with car names either. A Geo Metro or Chevy Sprint doesn’t induce excitement. Chargers and Corvette’s are the higher end cars.

      Europe’s higher end cars have nice names, too: Murceilago, Testarrosa, Vanquish, Veyron,…

      Europe does have some cool names for typical cars, though. Skoda Yeti, anyone???

      Point being, usually, if you buy a basic car, you’ll get a basic name.

    • 0 avatar
      izido

      Another reason? You mean there’s more than one?

    • 0 avatar

      Well, I’d be proud to tell my friends I got a new Twingo. It’s just a name. I also think it was made up by a computer. Renault used to do that. Though I sort of see your point, I think Twingo is a pretty good name. Like I’ve said on other posts, the world is already ugly enough. Cars with over aggressive names and mugs, that’s pretty bad.

      On a side note, some Japanese cars had really bad names. Things like Mazda LaPuta or some of the odd sounding names of JDM cars like some of those seen in Matt Gasnier’s Trans Siberian series. I generally like Italian car names. Maybe because Italian is close to Portuguese. English and French name are a mixed bag.

      Back to the Twingo, like somebody else said, the Twingo ended up being such an iconic car that the name became irrelevant. Twingo is kind of goofy, but the car made up for it.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Hola Marcelo! I had to laugh at your mention of JDM car names, some just sound like three random English words put together. Wasn’t there a Mazda Bongo Freedom Frisbee minivan? It was something like that…

        I can’t believe that it’s been 20 years since the release of the Twingo. I saw pix of it years ago in Auto Motor und Sport and other magazines here in the States, too. I thought it looked like a really neat little hatchback.

        Who knows, maybe with the success of Fiats in the US, maybe Renault Nissan will stop sending us ugly Japanese cars and send us a few fine French models. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        Johannes Dutch

        Mitsubishi Pajero, the famous 4×4.

        Translate “Pajero” from Spanish into English (or another language) and you know why they had to rename this tough guy in certain countries.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes, in Brazil the Pajero name was kept as it means nothing in Portuguese. In the rest of Latin América, it was re-named Montero because of the meaning of “Pajero” in Spanish. I think that Mitsubishi even had the presence of mind of calling it Montero in the US too, right?

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Too funny, you’d think there would be marketing departments who would thoroughly check out a name in all languages before tacking it on the side of a car

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Hobeo TravelDog!

  • avatar
    993cc

    Sounds like OneAlpha’s priorities in car choice and in life include proclaiming his heterosexuality at every opportunity. I’ll bet he tells folks about his new Charger CONSTANTLY.

    Rented a Twingo in Portugal once. Cool car? Yes! Stable at 140? No!

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    The “our friends at Jalopnik”-text link lead me to Wikipedia, not Jalopnik!?

    We had a couple of Twingos in our family. Sliding back bench, fabric roof – incredibly versatile. My mother, sister and I even went on a 6000km vacation in o e. Great cars!

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    LOL, The B&B commentariat is at the top of their game this morning. Wow, thanks for the laughs. I needed it.

    Never drove or picked up a twingo. Not that there’s anything wrong with either activity.

    • 0 avatar
      myheadhertz

      I quit staying at B&B’s. B&B patrons and staff are usually way too friendly. Give me something I can deal with – like a surly Holiday Inn Express desk clerk. Now that feels more like ‘home’.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    So the new version will be rear engined. This has to be the 1st time ever a redesigned model went from front to rear engine. New Beetle-front engine. Old Beetle rear engine.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I was in Paris last year, and saw Twingos all over the place – I was really tempted to buy one as a souvenir. It would have fit in my suitcase, right?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Link no bueno

    http://jalopnik.com/would-you-believe-this-brilliant-design-is-already-20-y-1475745358

    I love the Twingo. Ultimate city car.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I liked the first Twingo. When I lived in Holland, a neighbor had one. For a basic transportation module, it was roomy, quiet and smooth-riding.

  • avatar
    Joss

    After visiting Wiki I can see where Yaris got the center console idea. Hmm the brow raiser here is RE/rwd. Why would that be? I conjure Fiat 126 or Hillman Imp with a toaster oven back window. How’s Twingo III gonna pull that rear hatch?

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Lots of rear engine cars have been designed to use the space more efficiently and still have a decent luggage area above the engine. Even the Fiat 126p got a driveline makeover late in life to have the engine positioned horizontally and with a hatchback body style. Fiat knew how to do this long before; there was a station-wagon version of the original (rear engine) Fiat 500 with the engine horizontal in the back. Not to mention the VW Type 3, which all had luggage area above the engine (the cooling fan was in a different position from the space-eating design used on the Type 1 bugs).

      The next Twingo uses the drivetrain layout of the next smart, and assuming those are remotely like the current one, the engine is very low in the chassis and tilted over at an angle with useful luggage space above.

      As for “why” … well, I’m probably not the only one tired of front drive, and it’s good to see something different. Besides – no torque steer to worry about, less weight on the front end so less power steering assistance, no CV joints operating at steep angles while turning, and we now have stability-control systems to tame rear-engine’s traditional evil traits, so why not?

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    The first gen cars were pure genius. I still remember the first time I saw and sat in one at an autoshow back in ’93.

    I’d love to have one of these with the retractable fabric roof… with the 16V engine.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The Twingo made it into this book of “Cars” I got as a child, due to it’s styling and fun nature. I’ll have to pull that out again and see what they were raving about, and the title and author. Cars had to be special to be in that book, which was huge, and produced probably around 1998. The Avanti was there, and the Seville slantback, the Twingo, CV2, etc.

    I remember one of the last cars in the book, in the “Grand Saloons” section was the 91+ S-Class. The book said we were unlikely to see another car with such a no expense spared attitude and attention to detail and engineering complexity.


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