Renault Twingos demonstrate their turning circle in Geneva.
PAUL MCVEIGH

Renault Twingo: a new French revolution

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Paul McVeigh is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
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The Renault Twingo will stand out in Europe's crowded minicar segment because of its rear-engine layout and rear-wheel drive.

The little hatchback, which uses Daimler's platform for the upcoming Smart ForTwo and ForFour, has cute looks and its engine setup helps make the car highly agile and maneuverable in crowded cities.

To prove it, the company had four Twingos drive around in circles on its stand at the car's Geneva auto show unveiling on Tuesday. The Twingo's 8.65-meter turning radius is on average a meter less than its direct rivals, Renault says.

It's also very roomy inside. The Twingo, which will be sold only as a five-door, is 100mm shorter than the current car but the interior cabin is 130mm longer. The engine's location above the rear wheels frees up space in the cabin, Renault says.

Automakers abandoned rwd drive for their minicars decades ago. One reason was that the rear-engine setup could make the car unwieldy.

Are minicar buyers ready for a rwd hatchback? Renault is confident they are. "If you drive the car, you'll be ready to pay for it," Jerome Stoll, the automaker's sales and marketing chief, told reporters in Geneva. He didn't talk about the Twingo's pricing, saying only that "the price will reflect the value we put on the car."

Thierry Bollore, Renault's chief competitive officer, said the company is not planning a two-door, two-seat variant like the Smart ForTwo. Nor will there be an electric Twingo in the foreseeable future.

You can reach Paul McVeigh at pmcveigh@crain.com.

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