ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: RENAULTSORT GORDINI TWINGO
Packed with luxury trimmings and wearing an iconic badge, DAVID HOOPER, editor of wheelworldreviews.co.uk, says the Twingo Gordini is guaranteed to make you grin.
IF spending a few days driving the Gordini version of Renault’s Twingo has proved anything, it is this – hot hatches don’t have to be big, to be great fun.
A daft grin comes as standard when you get behind the wheel of this little hot-shot, which would make a brilliant first step onto the sports car ladder for would-be boy, or girl, racers.
It looks brilliant and can certainly turn heads, is a hoot to drive, is very safe and won’t cost the earth to buy, insure or run. I suppose I don’t need to say a lot more, so there you have it – a roadtest in three paragraphs!
I don’t want to sell it short though, so I’ll carry on. The Gordini name is one which will need no introduction to proper car fans who will remember its application to earlier performance models fondly. Named after a famous tuner, it is perhaps slightly ironic that Renault has concentrated on luxury trimmings in this Gordini-badged car, rather than uprating the performance of the Renaultsport based machine, which remains the same on this Gordini version.
The car I’ve been testing arrived featuring a lovely Malta Blue colour, with lots of white trimmings. White Gordini stripes adorn the bonnet, roof and tailgate and come as a no-cost option. Trim surrounding the foglights, the backs of the door mirrors and rear spoiler, perched on top of the tailgate, are all finished in white. The whole look is finished off with polished alloys with blue inserts, which are something a bit different and are very smart, if easy to scuff on a kerb – and no, I did not!
Inside, you are met by surprisingly supportive and comfortable sports seats, finished in leather, with blue leather inserts in the seats and door panels continuing the theme. The steering wheel is also covered in leather, with the top third finished in blue, with two white vertical stripes denoting the centre position. The gear lever gaiter is also finished in blue, as is the top of the gear knob.
The plastics used for the dashboard mouldings feel a bit on the cheap side, but it all seemed well screwed together, and there wasn’t the slightest trace of a rattle. The grey plastic is broken up nicely with some piano black trim in the centre, on which the instruments sit adding a bit of contrast to an otherwise fairly budget interior. The rev counter follows the blue and white theme and is perched on top of the steering column, right in front of the driver, exactly where it needs to be.
Other goodies include a radio, CD player, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors, and on the model I tested, air conditioning.
There are two versions of the Twingo Gordini available, a 1.2-litre with 100 hp, which costs £11,600. Cheaper to insure, it takes 1.1 seconds longer to get to 62mph and is 8mph slower flat out, but if you’re looking for a fun car with a bit of go, then this could fit the bill perfectly. Then there’s the model I’ve been testing – the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated 133bhp engine, which provides enjoyably lively performance, with a 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 125mph – but it’s really what happens in between that makes this car such fun.
The ride is impressive, not too soft, but just hard enough, so unlike small cars which come with hard-sprung suspension, you don’t feel like you’re driving a trampoline, yet Renaultsport’s engineers have managed to endow the Gordini with impeccable road manners.
There’s a huge amount of grip – turn into a corner expecting the car to understeer and it just grips and digs into the corner without complaint. It’s takes rapid changes of direction in its stride and if things get a little too lairy, there’s an ESP system keeping a very discreet eye on the proceedings.
To get the best out of the car’s performance, it needs to be revved, which tends to bring out the hooligan in you as you rapidly stir the gearbox. On the flipside, the car is quite content pottering around town, and there is still enough mid-range punch, although with a high fifth gear for economy, you may need to drop to fourth for A-road overtakes.
Rev it hard though, and it makes a lovely noise, and as the needle approaches the 7,000 rpm mark, a green light appears at the bottom of the rev counter dial to remind you to change up.
As you would hope, it stops well too, with a reassuringly firm feel to the brake pedal, and after repeated firm braking from speed, I didn’t detect any suggestion of brake fade.
With seats for four (the back two are individual seats which can slide fore and aft to adjust boot space) a proportionate boot, and plenty of luxury accoutrements, this little Gordini is a real cracker. I loved it, my 17-year-old son wanted one and was itching to have a go, and even my wife liked its responsive feel.
A definite hit then, but if you can manage without some of the luxury bits, go for the Twingo Renaultsport and save yourself some money.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Renault Twingo Gordini 133.
TWINGO RANGE: From Twingo Expression 1.2 16v 3dr (£8,995) to Gordini 133 (£14,710).
ENGINE: 1598cc, 133bhp four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 5-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 155g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 125mph. 0-62mph in 8.7 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 32.1mpg.
Fuel tank: 40 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 21.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.