Here's everything you need to know about the Renault Twingo.

Twingo key
Twingo switches
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Twingo logo

Quirks and Features – What makes the Twingo so special? Here's a quick rundown on the main features that made the Twingo one of the most popular small cars of it's time and a potential future classic.

Name – Twingo is a portmanteau of the words twist and tango.¹ The name can also be interpreted as a combination of the words twin and go, where the word "twin" refers to the idea of having two cars in one, a compact car and a minivan. This memorable name was coined by Manfred Gotta.

¹ In many places (such as on Wikipedia) it is said that the name comes from three words; twist, swing and tango. I'm quite sure this is incorrect. There is no swing in twingo. This is most likely a so-called canard. If I'm wrong on this, let me know.

Twingo ad with a woman standing through sunroof

Affordability – The first generation Twingo was sold in France for FF 55,000. Everything in the Twingo was designed with cost in mind. A good example of Renault's attempts to reduce costs is the radio antenna housed on the side mirror. Why is it there? Because it saves on the length of the antenna cable. This "design-to-cost" strategy resulted in a lot of small unique quirks that made the Twingo like no other.

Twingo adjstable back seat

Packaging – When the Twingo launched in 1992, Patrick le Quément’s design was a masterclass in small car packaging. The car’s wheels were pushed as far to each corner as possible to maximize interior space, while oversized windows ensured the cabin remained light and airy. The ingenious sliding foldable rear seats were a feature that was never seen before in a car this size. Nowadays, many of these features pioneered by the Twingo are a standard in every compact city car.

Twingo air scoop

Economy – Not just affordable to buy, Renault’s small cars have historically been cheap to run. The first generation Twingo followed suit, with its technical simplicity, low weight and low fuel consumption. Many components were reused from Clio and other Renault cars, further reducing the cost of maintenance.

Twingo ad with people waving

Ride – the Twingo had that famed cushy French ride. The suspension swallows almost everything that awaits on the French roads. It really is a surprisingly comfortable car. As this car was designed for the streets of Paris, the turning circle is only 9.7m. You can do a U-turn on a two lane street.

Twingo front

Style – What the Twingo lacked in equipment, it made up for in style. The exterior was utilitarian but playful, while the sparse interior was livened up by vibrant patterns and colourful switches and door handles. The Twingo is a perfect example of the expressive and playful design of the 90's.

Especially with the current trend of angry and aggressive car design, the sight of Twingo's joyful smile reminds you that maybe the world isn't so bad after all.

See also: Five decades of design, the 90's (YouTube)
TopGear 1993 Renault Twingo Test Drive (YouTube)

Twingo ad with business man

Timeline – Along the almost 20-year lifespan the Twingo never had an actual facelift, but instead it had multiple smaller under-the-hood updates and a couple of slightly larger visual updates called "phases". Here's a quick visual guide on what's changed over the years and how to recognize different Twingos.

1992

Twingo unveiling in Paris car show
  • On 5th October 1992 the Twingo was unveiled at the 1992 Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris

1993 • Phase 1

  • Twingo launched in April 1993

  • At first Twingo was a very minimalistic car

  • Just a single model available with no airbags, no ABS, no central locking, no power windows, no power mirrors, no power steering, no AC, no automatic transmission

  • Just 790kg of pure cuteness

Sumo wrestlers next to Twingo ad
  • Orange blinkers

Sumo wrestlers on Twingo ad
  • Unpainted bumpers

Sumo wrestlers inside Twingo ad
1993 Twingo phase 1 interior
  • Two-spoke steering wheel

  • No adjustment lever for right wing mirror

1993 Twingo phase 1 interior
  • Interior light above driver's door

  • Tailgate openable only with a key

  • See also: 1993 Renault Twingo (YouTube)

  • See also: Renault Twingo Phase 1 User Manual (YouTube)

  • In July 1993 first changes were made to the Twingo, including the addition of adjustment lever to passenger side mirror and better side-impact protection

1994

  • In June a range of new models were launched

  • Push-button added to tailgate

  • Interior light moved from above the driver's door to more central position between the sun visors

  • Twingo Easy transmission without a clutch pedal introduced

  • Renault started to offer a bunch of optional extras, such as "Pack Électrique" (power windows and mirrors, central locking), air conditioning, ABS

1995

  • Half a million Twingos produced

  • Driver and passenger airbags now available as an option

Twingo Coupe
Twingo Coupe interior
  • Twingo Coupe unveiled. Prototypes were made with Renault F7P and F7R engines, producing 135hp and 150hp respectively. Sadly, it never raced.

1996

  • D7F engine was introduced and eventually it replaced the old C3G engine on all models

  • Third brake light added

  • Air recirculation added

  • Reinforcements for the car body

  • Interior was updated slightly

1996 Twingo interior
  • 2-spoke steering wheel

  • Twingo'Matic with a 3-speed automatic introduced

1996 Twingo'Matic interior
  • 3-spoke steering wheel with driver airbag

1997

  • 1 million Twingos produced

1998 • Phase 2

Twingo phase 2 front quarter
  • New body-color bumpers with a simpler design

  • Base models still had unpainted bumpers

  • Blinker and headlamp now integrated into one unit

Twingo phase 2 rear quarter
  • Updated tail lights

1998 Twingo phase 2 interior
  • New interior, including a new 3-spoke steering wheel

  • Driver and passenger airbags now standard

  • Speakers moved from below the dashboard to the top of the dash

  • Proper glove box added

  • Models with AC continue not to have a glove box due to space constraints

  • Fuel level is now shown in lines instead of dots

  • Immobilizer added

  • EOBD (OBD-II) added

  • Reinforced body for crash safety

1999

  • Top of the line model "Initiale" launched

Initiale ad
  • Most notably it had a leather upholstery

Initiale Paris emblem
  • "Initiale" emblem above the side turn signal

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  • Panoramic glass sunroof available

2000 • Phase 3

  • 13-inch wheels updated to 14-inch

  • Bigger brakes

  • ABS now standard

  • Electric windows now standard

  • Reinforced body

  • Front anti-roll bar added

  • Fully galvanized front subframe for better protection against rust

Twingo phase 3 front quarter
  • Headlights slightly updated with clearer design

  • Body-color side mirrors

Twingo phase 3 rear quarter
  • The boot lid has no keyhole anymore, just a black button to open it

  • Remote centralized door locking now standard, so you can lock and unlock the tailgate by using the key fob

2000 Twingo phase 3 interior
  • Speakers added to door panels

  • Tiny cupholders added in front of the gear lever

2001

D4F 16V emblem
  • Models with D4F engine had a "16V" emblem above the side turn signal

2002

  • 2 million Twingos produced

  • Side airbags as standard

  • ISOFIX added to rear seats

2003

2004 • Phase 4

Twingo phase 4 front quarter
Twingo phase 4 rear quarter
  • Renault emblem on the tailgate

  • Side rubbing strips added

  • Clear side turn signals

  • Over the years, due to reinforcing of the body and all the other added safety features, the Twingo has become a hefty boy with a weight up to 920kg depending on options

2007

  • Twingo II was launched in 2007, but the production of the first generation Twingo continued in Colombia for South American markets all the way to 2012

2012

  • The production of 1st gen Twingo has now fully ended

  • In total over 2.6 million units of were produced

  • In comparison: Original Beetle (21.5 million units), Citroën 2CV (9 million units), original Mini (5 million units), Trabant (3 million units)

2014

  • Twingo III entered into production

2019

  • This website was created to commemorate the colorful history of the first generation Renault Twingo

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Engines – Over the years the Twingo had three different (but equally low-powered) engines available. The engine bay was super tiny, so the engine had to be tiny too. A 1.2 liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder was the most compact and economical solution back then.

In addition to the gasoline engines mentioned below, there was also a LPG bi-fuel variant of the D7F engine available, and for South American markets Renault developed smaller D7D and D4D engines, as the local regulations favored 1.0 liter engines there.

C3G • 1993 – 1997

  • 1239cc 8V 55hp

  • Old and bulletproof design from the 60s

  • Pushrods

  • Timing chain

D7F • 1996 –

  • 1149cc 8V 60hp

  • More modern, fuel efficient and quieter

D4F • 2001 –

  • 1149cc 16V 75hp

  • Newest and the most powerful engine available for the Twingo

  • Drive-by-wire (with awful throttle lag)

  • In 2004 a 60hp variant was introduced

D4F engine cover

Transmissions – Vast majority of Twingos were sold with a 5-speed manual transmission, but there were also all kinds of quirky automatics available.

Easy • 1994 – 2000

  • 5-speed semi-automatic transmission

  • It had a manual gear lever but no clutch pedal

  • You still change gears like in a manual, but the car controls the clutch

  • Similar to Saab Sensonic

  • The hydraulic clutch actuator is prone to fail

'Matic • 1996 – 2000

  • Traditional 3-speed automatic with torque converter

Quickshift • 2001 –

  • 5-speed semi-automatic transmission

  • Essentially a normal gearbox with a normal clutch, but the car controlled the clutch and the gear changes

  • It had a manual mode too with +/- gearshifts

  • The clutch wear on this transmission is quite significant

Twingo tailgate logo
Quickshift shifter

More info – Now you should know everything you need to know about the first generation Renault Twingo, but if you want to learn even more, here's some links for more reading.

Most of the info on this site is collected from these sources mentioned below and from all kinds of blogs and old articles around the internet. I've tried to cross-reference multiple sources when available to gather the most correct information.

Sadly, websites die, entire forums full of valuable information disappear. I have a bunch of bookmarks about Twingo I saved over the years that don't work anymore. There's not much left of the 90s/early 00s internet, which is why I wanted to create this site. I wanted to gather all the interesting bits of Twingo in one place and in English so everyone can learn about this French gem of the 90s. I'm quite sure this car will become a collector's item in the future. An early model Twingo is definitely a great investment right now. I hope this site will inspire more people to see the value in this car and take better care of them.

All images on this site are copyright to their respective owners.
High-resolution versions can be found here: Imgur gallery

Group of Twingos

Contact – Anything to add? Questions? Feel free to contact me using the form below.

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