The French have always had a knack for bizarre hot hatches: Witness the mid-engine terror of the Renault 5 Turbo or the Renault Clio V6. Renault’s latest creation, the Twingo GT, has basic specs that sound like something straight out of Zuffenhausen: rear-engine, rear-wheel drive, manual gearbox. But the similarities stop when you get to the engine: a 0.9-liter three-cylinder turbo with 110 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque.
But before you dismiss those figures as déclassé, remember that the Twingo is a diminutive city car that shares its platform with the Smart Fortwo and Forfour. That means it should have plenty of get-up-and-go for such a little guy. Renault Sport tinkered with the three-pot’s air intake and engine mapping to extract the extra 20 horsepower compared with the standard Twingo, and also changed the gearing of the five-speed manual transmission for zippier acceleration.
The chassis also has been tweaked with revised suspension and steering tuning, along with new calibration for the stability control. And the Twingo’s rear-wheel-drive setup should make for plenty of good old-fashioned fun. “Fun” also applies to the Twingo GT’s cheeky styling, which incorporates a lower ride height, larger wheels, a few extra stripes and graphics, and a new orange color called Piment (which means “hot pepper”).
In Europe, the Twingo GT will do battle with other tiny hot hatches including the Vauxhall Adam S and the Fiat 500 Abarth. Sadly we won’t see it here in les États-Unis, but that doesn’t mean we can’t admire it from afar.