RENAULT has certainly been enjoying some ‘bon temps’ of late – and the French manufacturer is confident the good times times will continue to roll in 2017.
With a new generation of the popular Scenic MPV and it’s larger stablemate the Grand Scenic – along with a new Megane Sport Tourer model – launched in the past few weeks, Renault is anything but sitting on its laurels.
The Renault group, which includes sister brand Dacia, has doubled its UK market share over the past five years and in 2016 saw a healthy 13 per cent increase.
This summer will see a new Koleos compact SUV enter the fray while the electric Kangoo Van will receive an upgrade.
They will be followed by the Renault Alaskan pick-up during the autumn, a Master ZE Van when the weather draws in and, next year, a new Alpine sports car.
Not content with that little lot, visitors to next week’s Geneva Motor Show will be able to see the new Captur urban crossover, complete with more distinctive styling a fresh technologies.
With a new team in Formula 1 and a strong commitment to Formula E, Renault sees motorsport as a vector of innovation and brand awareness.
And among models to receive the Renault Sport treatment is the brand’s small city car the Twingo, which now has a fiery GT variant.
The GT, which costs £13,755 on the road, has a rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout which maximises interior space and makes the car easy to park or complete a U-turn because the turning arc of the front wheels is not restricted by the engine
Twingo comes as standard as a five-door – the most popular body style with city car buyers – and while space is plentiful up front, it’s a tight squeeze in rear.
Starting with the 898cc TCe engine – the most powerful in the Twingo range – Renault Sport’s engine designers tuned it to produce 110hp and 170Nm of torque in the GT.
The upshot is 0-62mph acceleration in 9.6 seconds, though it feels quicker than that, a top speed of 113mph and official Combined fuel return of 54.3mpg.
With its sporty charcoal, orange and white seats, orange cabin highlights, silver accents and chunky leather flat-bottomed steering wheel and twin chrome tailpipes, the Twingo we tested over mixed fast roads and rural lanes in the Cotswolds proved something of a treat.
Okay, the suspension is firm and the GT felt a bit skittish on some slightly broken, cambered surfaces, but this is a car that keeps on responding the harder you push it.
It’s sharp, lively and really sticks to the road, but then the chassis has been finely tuned, there are stiffer shock absorbers and a ride height that is 20mm lower than the normal Twingo.
Included in the GT’s equipment are features like the R&GO application that turns a smartphone into a touchscreen including sat-nav, ABS, Emergency Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist, speed limiter and cruise control.
You also get automatic climate control, auto lights and front wipers, fog lights with cornering function and rear parking sensors as standard.
And for those wishing to personalise, there are options like Blaze Orange metallic paint at £625, a GT roof and bonnet decal for £200 and a comprehensive Techno Pack R-Link for £600.