Neither the quality nor the quantity of what the naturally aspirated Twingo offers in this department impresses.

It’s not a painfully slow car, but it’s sufficiently pedestrian to be hard work to drive at times, and it’s less flexible and less refined than its competition.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The 89bhp TCe version has a much more likeable power delivery

Were it the job of an Autocar road test to make excuses for a car that doesn’t quite cut the mustard, we might explain the Twingo’s failure with overly long gearing or tightness in the engine.

But, frankly, so what? Most of the comparable cars that have braved our timing gear in the past five years have done so with little more than 1000 miles on the odometer, and every one – from Chevrolet Spark to Toyota Aygo via i10, Picanto, Ford Ka, Vauxhall Adam and Up – needed less than 15sec to hit 60mph from rest. The Twingo took 17.6sec.

It’s a shortfall that you inevitably perceive on the road. Seldom are you afforded the opportunity to accelerate from low speeds in this car using less than about 90 percent throttle, out of duty to avoid holding up traffic behind.

Overtaking is possible out of town, but you need lots of room and, ideally, a descending gradient. On the motorway, the car’s cruise control often fails to conjure enough power to maintain 70mph up a long climb in top gear. Such concerns may be unlikely to bother city dwellers, but a torquier delivery would certainly give the car more authority in the cut and thrust of urban traffic and make it feel less exposed the rest of the time.

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Whether you’re in town or out of it, the engine’s relatively rough manners at low crank speeds, where it grumbles and thumps a bit before settling down to work, don’t speak of attentive engineering.

The turbocharged version, however, makes up for some of the naturally aspirated unit's shortcomings. Renault quote a much more spritely time of 10.8sec for the 0-62mph sprint, while the additional torque results in a car which feels much brisker – particularly during in-gear acceleration.

Renault's turbocharged Twingo is also quiet. Its clutch action is less progressive than the other cars though, which can make it more difficult to drive in urban environments. The Twingo GT is also hushed, but is capable of reaching 62mph in a more palatable 9.6sec and on to a top speed of 113mph.

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