Brilliance Precursor - 1995 Renault Twingo Coupe Concept
The humble Renault Twingo is a car renowned for general cheapness. Working examples in Europe can be had for as little as €50, a perfectly fine car for not very much money. When launched into the relatively new city car market in 1993, Renault dared to be different in the styling department by characterising the vehicle with a cute little face of its own which set it apart from most cars on the road due to it actually being designed this way. It was a potentially risky move as the car might have seemed too ‘girly’ for some, potentially driving away a large demographic of buyers, although in the end it worked out alright, leading to incredible success for the French make. In 2007, European production ceased after in excess of 2.8 million examples of the cheerful chariot rolled off the production line. Whilst a replacement followed shortly after, the first generation Twingo stayed in production in Colombia all the way up to 2012, so to say there’s no shortage is perhaps the understatement of the century.
The Twingo lacked pedigree, though. It was a cheap and cheerful (in the most literal sense of the phrase) way of getting from A to B, especially considering it started at just 55,000 Francs which was equivalent to £6553 in 1993, or £12,450 today. This might seem like a lot, but there were no options; this was the best model you could buy. Performance was lacking however, as the car never once broke the 100hp barrier. The best performing engine ever offered was a 1.2 litre 16v inline-4, and whilst this was plenty for all the weight of the little thing, it wasn’t going to win any races. This gave Renault an idea.
They saw a niche market for a pint size back road brawler, and lunged at the opportunity. In 1995 they took a simple Twingo and, effectively, tore it apart. The interior was revamped, being fitted with a top mounted rev counter (cluster mounted isn’t strictly true, in this case), a killswitch on the centre console, a new, more focused looking steering wheel and to top the package off, a chunky looking roll cage and a pair of racing bucket seats. The Coupe moniker comes not from the body style, but from the removal of the sliding rear bench whilst undergoing the weight stripping process.
Atop the enhancements made to the interior, the little Renault was given a much more gutsy engine. It was retrofitted with either a Renault in-house 1.6 or 2.0 litre inline-4 producing 135 and 150 horsepower respectively, up to twice as much as stock. Whilst no official performance figures have been published, it’s needless to say that this much power in such a small, featherweight of a car (stock it weighed less than 800kg, so post modification it was presumably similar although with acres more chassis rigidity) would result in pretty peppy acceleration on top of some potentially wicked handling. It was a Renault-tuned hot hatchback, after all. Whilst there is no mention anywhere of any modifications to the underpinnings of the Twingo, I’d assume the running gear’s undergone some almighty fettling, at least when looking at the aggressive stance of the thing. Some chunky tyres (presumably the same 185mm wide Michelins from the Williams Clio) round off the package, wrapped around a smart set of 15 inch Speedline rims from the same car. Also, just look at that livery. I’ll take 3.
Information about the concept is very limited, but it’s safe to assume that this would be one hell of a car to bash around on a twisty back road. Decent power and tight handling in a tiny package sounds like a recipe for sheer delight, but it’s a shame; nobody ever experienced it. It was simply locked up and never driven, or at least there are no accounts or road tests available to read.