Renault Twingo – long-term test

Paul Hudson with his Renault Twingo
Paul Hudson is putting the Renault Twingo to the test

The rear-engined Renault Twingo should be just the thing to keep us mobile amid London's gridlock. Paul Hudson reports

Our car: 999cc Dynamique SCe 70 Stop & Start List price when new: £10,995 Price as tested: £11,985 Official fuel economy: 67.3mpg (EU Combined)

Read more long-term tests

July 4, 2016

Fuel economy this week: N/A

It's here, the new long-termer is here. I've only seen it in the Telegraph's deluxe underground car park, but I can't wait to drive it. What's not to love about that amazing turquoise body colour? And just look at that upholstery.

Shame it's only with us for a week, but already I can see a link between this original Twingo and the Mk3 version we've been running for a year - practical, yet cheeky and fun.

June 28, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 42.4mpg

The floods had receded by this point...

So. Farewell, then, Renault Twingo. Only a week before the car was due to end its time in our tenure, disaster struck.

Torrential  rains in London last Wednesday night and through early Thursday led to what our Gallic friends call an inondation in my street. The Twingo, along with my neighbour's two cars, bore the brunt of the rising water levels.

I looked out the window at 6.30am and saw the water around its axles, so I rushed outside (glad that I remembered to put on some wellies, even though I remained without a coat) and moved it to higher ground.

Phew, saved it, I thought. And then cycled to work.

It was only that evening that another neighbour said the water had been much higher. Sure enough, when I checked the Twingo, the footwells contained pools of water. Worse, the rear of all four seat squabs were wet.

The front mats drip-drying the day after

With trepidation, I tried the engine next morning and it struck up, so I decided to drive gently to work so I could leave it in the Telegraph's palatial underground car park with the windows open to help the interior dry out.

Best laid plans and all that. By the end of the road the 999cc, three-cylinder engine started spluttering then cut out, with the engine warning light illuminated. Merde.  

The water was still pooled in the footwells more than 24 hours after the Twingo had been extricated from the flood

A tow-truck was summoned to recover the car to Renault UK's technical team. 

The good news is that the damage might not be as bad as first feared. Apart from sodden carpets, it seems that the floodwater had somehow entered the fuel system but the car has subsequently run, so hopefully it's not an insurance write-off.

So. Farewell, then, Renault Twingo, and welcome to my "new" long-term test car, a Renault Twingo.

I had planned to do a farewell piece alongside the original Twingo, so the older car is to become my daily runabout for a week to see how cars made 20-odd years apart compare.

June 15, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 42.1mpg

I've finally arranged for the Twingo to meet its forebear, the innovative original Twingo, before waving goodbye to 'our' car.

As mentioned, the original Twingo was perhaps the zenith of Renault's monospace (one-box) ethos, cramming an incredible amount of space and practicality into such a small car. The other examples are the original Megane Scenic, which started the trend for family hatchback-sized people carriers, and, most famously, the larger Espace.

I've been told that you can sleep in the original Twingo if you fold the front passenger seat flat - and I'm sure the same novel feature will allow me to do the same in the latest version should I be stuck late at the Goodwood Festival of Speed next weekend.

June 7, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 41.4mpg

Another quiet few weeks. I'm not getting bored with the Twingo, honest, but it's been spending more time in the car park than zipping around the metropolis.

I'm planning on taking it to see its distant cousin, the original Twingo that was never officially sold in the UK, for a bit of a comparison. Both are novel approaches, with more interior space than their small size might suggest.

May 17, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 41.2mpg

We've had a surfeit of test cars at Telegraph Towers over the past few weeks so the poor old Twingo has been sitting in our underground bunker for much of that time.

When it does see the light of day, such as a quick hop to Brooklands for our shoot of historic Bentley racing cars, it dispatches the congested urban part of the journey with aplomb but still feels desperately slow on the fast A3 dual-carriageway leading south-west to Brooklands.

It will cruise at at true 70mph easily (if slightly noisily) enough, it's just that there's almost nothing in reserve should you wish to make an overtaking manoeuvre faster than anticipated.

But in the urban environment, it's still hard to beat.

April 26, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 39.7mpg

Another slow week in Twingo-land, chiefly because I've been abroad in our rather splendid long-term Jaguar XE.

Much as I enjoyed the Jaguar on a long run to Le Mans, with plenty of miles on and around the circuit for the 24 Hours race, I was pleased to grab the Twingo keys on my return to the capital.

I really do sound like a stuck record, but there's nothing to touch its manouevrability in town. This is due to its rear-engined configuration, which means that the steering is unencumbered by driveshafts. 

This results in a turning circle that's tighter than that of a London taxi, and maks parking in the tightest spaces an absolute cinch.

It will be going back soon and I shall genuinely miss it.

April 6, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 36.8mpg

Not much to report this week, as I've been mainly cycling to work to take advantage of some vaguely spring-like weather.

The economy has taken another turn for the worse, probably due to extensive roadworks on my short commute.

I'm looking forward to some longer distances this weekend, when I'll be joining Le Mans 24 Hours legend Derek Bell on a Telegraph Travel-organised tour taking in the circuit and the delights of the Loire Valley.

It won't be in the Twingo, however. It's ok for short motorway journeys but not the ideal motorway cruiser. Instead, I'm anticipating good things from our long-term Jaguar XE diesel, which should be just the ticket.

March 29, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 37.3mpg

What a difference a wash makes to a car - and not just its appearance.

After a one-year service the Twingo has been returned spaick and span, but there's also a difference to the way it drives. I've mentioned the transmission 'shunt' especially when releasing the clutch when changing from first to second gear, but it has become much smoother.

Perhaps a clutch adjustment during the routine service has made the difference, but it's a welcome change.

Not so welcome is the economy plummeting to 37.3mpg over the last few days. I had thought that with the warmer weather the economy might improve, but it's that old bugbear of short runs from cold that's doing the damage, without a doubt.

March 22, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 48.4mpg

Firstly, apologies for the lack of recent updates. I've been away a lot and the Renault Twingo - which has been with us for precisely one year - blotted its copybook by requesting a service after only 3,200 miles.

Clean machine: the Twingo looks as good as new after a thorough clean while it was away being serviced

As soon as the service warning light came on I checked the vital fluids. Getting to the rear-mounted engine involves unscrewing a cover in the boot before you can check the oil. Opening the bonnet to check the coolant and brake fluid levels is even more fiddly, not at all intuitive but easy once you know how.

To be fair, the service schedule is one year/12,500 miles, so it was perhaps due some attention after 12 months of hard use in the capital. Fortunately, nothing was amiss and it's back in our underground bunker looking like a new car after a rigorous clean while the first service was carried out.

It really has had a hard life thus far but that's the fate of city cars, they invariably spend their time in stop-start traffic from cold starts.

I must admit I'm glad to have it back for a while longer, as nothing else comes close to matching its cheeky character and general nippiness.

February 17, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 49.3mpg

Spectacular. That's the only word to describe a sudden increase in economy this week.

Having been stuck in the mid- to low-40s mpg for the best part of a year, this week it has crept up to 49.3mpg - and I've no idea how.

Usually a diet of very cold starts (scraping frost from the screen most mornings) and short journeys is a disaster for fuel consumption.

That's still a long way short of the official economy, of course, but as we keep saying the current system of measuring fuel consumption is not representative of real-world driving.

Long may it continue. I'll be really careful with the accelerator pedal over the coming week to see whether I can nudge past the 'magic' 50mpg.

February 4, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 43.5mpg

Not much to report this week, other than the 3,000-mile landmark that's finally been reached on the Renault Twingo's odometer.

Otherwise it's business as usual, with yet another flog up the M40 to drive a classic Lamborghini Countach - one of my dream cars. As you might expect, the Countach was  utterly thrilling but, as I've said before, once back in London the Twingo's small size and general nippiness make it a winner.

3,000 miles and still going strong - of course

I dread to think what driving a 1981 Countach would be like in the capital...

Oh, and the pesky low tyre pressure warning light has come on again, as you can see in the picture (by the way, I'm also vying for the Telegraph Cars unofficial Most Boring Picture of the Week award). 

Just to make things more interesting, here's an image of the aforementioned Countach.

I love the Twingo, but it doesn't quite have the visual and dynamic drama of a 1981 Lamborghini Countach LP400S Credit: Philip Hollis

The tyres certainly don't look under-inflated, but I shall dutifully check the pressures this weekend.

And I might even treat the poor thing to a wash.

January 27, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 42.8mpg

As expected, cooler weather has hammered the Renault Twingo's fuel economy - not helped by a succession of short journeys from cold.

Because my mileage isn't vast - I'm approaching 3,000 mainly urban miles since March 2015 - I don't spend much time at the pumps so yesterday's fill-up was a refreshing experience.

With standard unleaded at only £1.039 per litre, it's almost unbelievable to watch the digits in the "litres" and "total" windows increase at the same rate.

Long may it continue.

January 21, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 44.7mpg

A minor shortcoming has emerged after a couple of frosty morning starts. I thought the Renault Twingo was fine, if not exceptional, at clearing ice off the screen, but a Volkswagen Golf diesel I had overnight defrosted a harsher frost in half the time.

It's a small detail, but it's things such as this that show the value of running a car over a period of months.

Otherwise all is as normal, except that the economy has dropped slightly due to the cooler weather - but that's only to be expected at this time of the year.

January 13, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 45.7mpg

After light traffic over the festive season it's back to the usual gridlock on my commute to work. Perhaps it's because I haven't driven the Renault Twingo much in recent weeks, but the transmission shunt - which manifests as a noticeable shudder when releasing the clutch in first and second gears -  seems to have become worse. 

You can drive around it by being super-sensitive with the clutch pedal, but I can't help thinking that it's far from ideal in a city car that will spend much of its time shuffling between first and second gears.

Then again, it's not serious enough to warrant attention.

Do other Twingo owners find this irritating? 

January 6, 2016

Fuel economy this week: 45.6mpg

Firstly, apologies for the lack of updates over the festive season. I was fortunate in that I didn't have to drive anywhere so the Renault Twingo barely turned a wheel.

Not much to report, then, apart from a mildly irritating occasional squeak from the passenger-side front door which,  like the stop-start system before it, magically cured itself after a couple of days.

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I really can't believe that the latest version of the Twingo hasn't found more homes in the UK. It makes such light work of urban driving that I'm concerned I won't be able to find an adequate replacement come March.

Until the sad day when it departs, I'll continue to enjoy its nippiness and sheer verve around town. Only the spongy brake pedal and slight transmission shunt have let the side down so far.

December 2, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 46.1mpg

Another quiet week for our Renault Twingo. After kerbing an alloy wheel last week I've decided not to get it refurbished now - mainly because the damage isn't too obvious and, given the car's use, it's likely to happen again.

I'll try to avoid it, obviously.

At least there has been a slight improvement in fuel economy, although as I mentioned earlier I'm resigned to getting no better than mid-40s mpg.

November 25, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 45.9mpg

It had to happen. After surviving unscathed for just over eight months, one of the Renault Twingo's lovely wheels came off second best against a kerb.

Don't you hate it when people don't use the available road space? A van was turning right but its driver failed to move to the crown of the road. In my impatience to drive straight ahead on a clear road, I misjudged the resulting gap and was rewarded by the awful graunching of alloy against kerbstone.

It's only a graze, but it's around the entire circumference of the 15in Exception wheel.

I'm debating whether to get it refurbished now or wait until Renault wants the car back in March.

November 18, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 45.7mpg

A curse of having a wood-burning domestic stove is maintaining a sufficient supply of fuel, so when I saw a handmade sign reading "Free logs" I simply had to investigate.

As ever, nothing is for free. It turned out that the tree feller's "Free logs" should have read "Free sections of freshly felled tree". 

Not to be deterred, I loaded the smallest sections into the Renault Twingo. Can anyone lend me a chainsaw?

I've also been contacted by Richard Fisher, who owns a similar car - and is also only getting 45mpg. 

I'm sure Mr Fisher is more feather-footed than me, so it seems three-quarters of the official EU Combined figure - the only figure Renault is allowed to quote - is the norm.

November 11, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 45.9mpg

Following last week's update, I've been researching Renault Twingo sales and discovered that Renault has sold 5,191 in the UK since the car's launch in the final quarter of 2014.

Perhaps its badge snobbery, as Volkswagen has sold more than three times as many Up city cars in about the same period.

No matter, I'll keep flying the flag for the super Twingo.

This week it's been pressed into service as a camera car for our video shoot of a classic - not to mention utterly gorgeous - Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing.

This 1955 example was once owned by renowned General Motors stylist Harley Earl and is coming up for auction with Historics at Brooklands on November 28.

It's estimated at £925,000 to £1,125,000 - and I reckon it's worth every penny.

Back in the real world, the Twingo continues to impress, its tight turning circle - thanks to the engine located at the rear - coming in useful while shooting the Gullwing video when we had to perform countless manoeuvres in enclosed spaces, as well as the occasional U-turn on narrow lanes.

The Gullwing had to perform a five-point turn, whereas the Twingo whizzed around in one go.

November 4, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 46.2mpg

Another quiet week in Renault Twingo land. I've taken to wondering why I've not seen more of them on the road.

Admittedly, I rarely get out out of London these days but I've only seen one other example in the seven months that I've been running 'our' Twingo.

I think it's fair to say that I'm a fan - so much so that I'm beginning to worry that I'm in the minority. Yet my colleagues all appreciate its charm, practicality and ease of use, so I hope there are plenty more out there.

Maybe I should get out more...

October 28, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 43.3mpg

A second opinion is always worth having, whether we're talking cars or medical diagnosis.

This week the Renault Twingo has been seconded to Chris Stone of our video department so we could find out if it suits the needs of a young family as well as it does men of a certain age such as myself.

The first thing Chris mentioned was the Twingo's amazing tight turning circle and the ease with which it can be parked in the tightest of spaces.

He also admired the folding front passenger seat - I use it to fit in my bicycle without having to remove the wheels.

Less popular were the performance and engine noise on the motorway, while Chris also felt the interior design would date pretty quickly.

His main criticism was when fitting his one-year-old son's car seat in the back. The Twingo has five doors but its compact size meant that the child seat was a tight fit behind the driver's seat.

Overall, however, he backed up my opinion that the Twingo is the perfect size and shape for nipping around town.

I've saved the best news till last. I've just discovered that Renault is loaning us the Twingo for a full year, so it's with us until next March.

October 21, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 42.9mpg

Firstly, apologies for missing last week's Renault Twingo update, but there was nothing to report because I've been driving other cars.

All of which serves to remind me that in my opinion there's nothing better than the Twingo for urban transport. To prove this I, er, did a high-speed run to Luton airport to (only just) catch a plane to attend the launch of the Ferrari 488 Spider.

Predictably, the economy took a hammering. Much as I enjoyed the Ferrari, however, back in the real world of commuting in the capital I'd take the Twingo any day.

October 7, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 44.3mpg

Not much to report from Renault Twingo land this week, with only 2.7 miles added to the odometer, because of a deluge of other test cars at Telegraph Towers.

The fuel economy took another hammering with that short journey from a cold start but I'm resigned to never bettering mid-40s mpg. I stress it's not Renault's fault, because the official figures it is obliged to quote are based on a clearly outdated, laboratory-based test rather than real world driving.

I sincerely hope that one outcome of the VW emissions testing furore will be to hasten the adoption of a realistic fuel consumption test.

September 30, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 46.7mpg

This is what 188 litres of boot space looks like

Another quiet week for the Renault Twingo as I've been cycling to work to take advantage of some glorious early-autumn weather.

Like a great many urban cars, shopping trips are its most frequent use. Renault quotes 188 litres of boot space to the window line with the rear seats upright, but no one has a clue what that looks like so the accompanying image of a week's groceries in the boot should give you some idea.

As with most things about this car, at first glance the boot might seem a little disappointing but in day-to-day use (where it really matters) it's been more than sufficient.

And, as I've pointed out before, folding those rear seats gives 980 litres of load space. Sorry, I mean the carrying capacity of a small van.

September 22, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 46.3mpg

Apologies if you've been dismayed by a lack of updates, but I've been on holiday (but not for a whole month, I hasten to add).

Anyway, back to business. The Renault Twingo sat unused in our underground bunker for the duration of my break - I've mentioned that it's better than expected on a long run, but I didn't fancy driving it all the way to the south of France.

It's good to be back in it, though. The Twingo's nippiness and sheer fun are much appreciated now that my driving is urban slog again rather than vineyard grog.

The long travel of the brake pedal remains disconcerting on reacquaintance after a while away, but there's no doubting the stopping power. Even the economy edges towards 50mpg as the mileage has passed 2,000.

August 25, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 45.7mpg

After last week's startling improvement in economy, another urban cut-and-thrust followed by long motorway journey has put things back to normal.

The Renault Twingo never ceases to amaze me during this type of use, however. It's not ideal for a long haul but, once up to cruising speed, it rides well and is far more stable and refined than a car with such a short wheelbase and small-capacity engine has any right to be.

One gremlin appeared however - then disappeared equally quickly. The standard Stop & Start system stopped stopping and restarting while I was heading out of the capital. It didn't matter on a long run, but I was just about to report this misdemeanour on my return home when the Twingo took me by surprise and cut out on cue at the first red traffic light. 

The system has worked perfectly ever since.

August 18, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 47.6mpg

Blimey, fuel consumption nudging 50mpg. Have I traded in my lead-soled diving boots for some gossamer loafers? Simple, really: just drive more gently and economy will follow.

Although this particular piece of economy came on a motorway run of the sort that doesn't suit the Renault Twingo, it just goes to show that slower is cheaper. Light August traffic leaving London meant that I was way too early for my appointment with a million-pound Ferrari (keep an eye out for the video in the next week or so) which meant sub-60mph cruising rather than an indicated 70mph.

As well as being less stressful (on the car, as well as my delicate nerves), the marked improvement in economy is more than welcome. As the mileage climbs towards 1,800 the engine is also bedded in, which should help.

August 12, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 44.3mpg

What was I saying about Chelsea tractors last week? This week the Renault Twingo has been literally overshadowed by a 2016-spec Range Rover in the Telegraph's underground bunker.

There's no denying that the Range Rover is a wonderful piece of kit, but in terms of price alone I doubt whether it's almost 10 times better than the Twingo. Certainly, in my predominantly urban use the big Range Rover was unwieldy, not to mention thirsty (even though it's a V8 diesel). It's difficult to manoeuvre and park, too - both areas where the Twingo is nigh unbeatable.

And, after the Range Rover, I'll never complain about the Twingo's fuel economy again. Until the next time.

August 3, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 44.4mpg

I'd love to be able to report traffic-free miles of sun-drenched motoring, but as ever the reality of day-to-day driving in and around central London is somewhat more prosaic.

That the Renault Twingo always puts a smile on my face is testament to its sheer zest allied to a practicality that eludes other, larger cars.

My colleagues all agree - and the few who haven't driven it yet are eager to have a go.

The economy seems to have stabilised in the mid-40s mpg. Disappointing compared with the official EU figure, agreed, but not bad considering its use - the Twingo hasn't been out of town since Chris's high-speed run back from the Goodwood Festival of Speed more than a month ago.

July 28, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 44.5mpg

It's on or off with the our long-term Renault Twingo - either I drive it almost all day every day, or it sits in the car park at Telegraph Towers for days on end.

The fuel economy is still improving gradually but, like most owners of new cars, have come to accept that no matter how feather-footed my driving I'm never going to achieve anywhere near the official consumption that Renault is obliged to quote.

Predominantly urban use won't help the economy, either. 

July 21, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 44.2mpg

A rare week off for the Renault Twingo as I've been catching up with other product.

Some large cars, some medium hatchbacks and a couple of small cars - and none has changed my opinion that the Twingo is the most fun in predominantly urban driving.

July 14, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 44.2mpg

Gardening was on the agenda at the weekend so the Renault Twingo has been pressed into service as a light urban van.

I had thought the 999cc engine would struggle when the car was laden with bags of topsoil but, as ever, it gamely coped with everything I could throw at it. The load area with the rear seats folded is remarkable for a car with such a small footprint - and there's always the fold-flat front seat to accommodate longer items (although I'm not sure Mrs H would be happy having to walk home from the garden centre).

French car, French wife - Bastille Day had to be celebrated in style (apologies to all royalists). The load-lugging continued with a couple of cases of finest Champagne (ie the cheapest we could find).

As the mileage passes 1,500 it's even using a tad less fuel, it must be the engine bedding in because my driving style seems to have become harsher rather than smoother.

July 7, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 42.3mpg

The Renault Twingo hasn't seen much use over the past few weeks, what with the Goodwood Festival of Speed long weekend, a couple of new-car launches and slumming it in a classic Ferrari Daytona for a day.

I drove to Goodwood then parked the Twingo for the duration. It gets really complicated co-ordinating cars at times, so it fell to Chris Knapman to put some miles on it. Here's what he had to say:

"Ah, the life of a motoring journalist. One day it's a Porsche 911 GT3, the next a brand new BMW 6-series. And then came the Twingo. To be absolutely clear, I'm not a car snob, so this isn't a rant about how slow and cheap the Renault felt compared with cars costing more than five times the price.

"However, I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the performance and long-distance comfort of those bigger, more expensive cars when Paul first threw me the Twingo's key (not least because the one I threw back in exchange was for the GT3...) for the 50-mile sprint back from the Goodwood Festival of Speed to home.

"This is one of my favourite test routes, although to be able to really enjoy it requires having a car with enough poke to overtake. The Twingo definitely doesn't, although if you time your run-up just so, and traffic permits, you can steal the odd opportunity.

"Paul is right about the brakes, too. There's definitely some squishiness at the top of the middle pedal's travel, which can be disconcerting, not least because when the pads do bite it's with quite a lot of force. I think it's more a characteristic than a fault, but I can understand why it's been bothering Paul.

"Other than the fact it's slow and the brakes are weird, I found the Twingo to be a rather charming companion. Flawed, yes, but then most interesting things are."

June 23, 2015

Fuel economy this week:42.2mpg

The Queen song Don't Stop Me Now leaped into my brain as I contemplated the inevitable crash - but it never came. 

A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but after driving a rival city car this week which had extremely abrupt brakes, the Renault Twingo's soggy stoppers were initially alarming.

The fluid level is fine and obviously the pads can't be stupidly worn after only 1,300 miles, so I'll speak to a Renault agent to see whether they're all like this or whether anything can be done to firm up the pedal.

I stress, nothing dangerous, it's just that the system lacks the initial bite I'd like.

June 9, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 40.9mpg

I've been driving in the capital for about 30 years and I've never known such chaos. Maybe it's all the roadworks.

Even a car that's as nippy as the Twingo can't escape the gridlock that greets me each morn, to the detriment of fuel economy and my sanity.

When the traffic does ease, no matter how slightly, the little Renault is totally at home.

I've also found a new way to drive it. I've mentioned the minuscule amount of torque from the 999cc, three-cylinder engine, which means it can bog down between gearchanges. However, I've discovered a slug of torque at extremely low revs that maintains momentum around tight corners at slow speeds, such as 90-degree turns into side roads.

I'll report on this further - and, hopefully, an improvement in economy now that there's 1,200 miles showing on the odometer.

June 2, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 41.2mpg

We're into June already and the Renault Twingo continues to impress with its cheeky character and sheer manoeuvrability. As mentioned, the tight turning circle is a boon in urban driving and, combined with the car's diminutive dimensions (except the height), makes it a cinch to park in the tightest of spots.

Many testers have commented on transmission shunt in the Twingo and its Smart Forfour sister car (above). Maybe I'm just getting used to it, but it doesn't seem as bad as it was.

Having said that, brutal use of the clutch isn't recommended - but you can't be too slow to release it when changing from first to second or the revs drop and there's precious little torque to haul you along.

It's not a deal-breaker - I still love this car.

May 26, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 42.3mpg

No change this week. I'd love to report miles of pleasure with the Renault Twingo but a spell of jury service has taken over my life and I've barely driven it.

Now the mileage has passed 1,000 it's bedded in well, but there are a couple of things that I'd like addressed. Nothing serious, but the brakes seem to have become a little bit spongey, necessitating braking earlier and more softly than I'd like, while the driver's side electric window is a little arthrithic in operation.

The verdict? I cannot comment on the court case but rest assured I'm not going off the Twingo - if anything, I'm becoming more impressed with its all-round ability and sheer sense of fun.

My wife is tiring of the phrase "You can't do that in a Bentley" as I scythe my way around London.

May 19, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 42.3mpg

Fortunately the economy is rising gradually as the mileage has passed 1,000, although I fear it won't improve massively due to the Renault Twingo's predominantly urban use and the engine's rev-happy nature.

Head of Cars Steve Huntingford was keen to sample the cheeky Renault this week. Like me when the car arrived, he decided on a fast A-road blast. Also like me, he was suitably impressed by how well it copes with such use - it takes a while to get up to cruising speed, and gradual inclines take their toll, but once at the legal limit it will happily sit there for mile after mile.

Also, the steering goes quite light at higher speeds, but the Twingo has clearly demonstrated an ability beyond its city car tag.

May 12, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 39.9mpg

My feather-footed driving (ok, slightly less enthusiastic than usual) has almost cracked the 40mpg barrier. It must be the engine bedding in, as in truth my driving style - and the Renault Twingo's hard use - haven't changed much over four weeks.

I mentioned the brilliant fold-flat front passenger seat in last week's report. It's part of this car's reportoire (shared with its Smart Forfour sister) of being able to carry way more than you'd imagine.

Excuse my rubbish photography, but trust me that seat does fold fully flat. Together with the level rear (and wide-opening doors), it's primed for a garden centre run this weekend because my patio pots are crying out for fresh earth.

With all that weight, I bet the economy suffers...

May 5, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 39.6mpg

The poor old Renault Twingo has had a week off from its hard life. I suppose that's a good way to improve the average fuel consumption!

In the little, gentler use it's had since the start of May, economy has improved to almost 40mpg. Still not even two-thirds of the official EU Combined figure that Renault is obliged to quote, but that's the problem with small engines such as this and Fiat's Twinair two-cylinder unit - they spend a lot of the time working extremely hard.

Pedal power was on the agenda this week, with the 67-mile sportive ahead of the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. Although it's possible to fit my bicycle in the Twingo without removing a wheel (thanks to the brilliant fold-flat front passenger seat), it wasn't ideal for a high-speed motorway run to Leeds and back so in the end I lobbed the Bianchi in the back seat of a Bentley (well, this is the Telegraph, after all).

Why not the boot? Because a large chunk of it is taken up by the fridge. Yes, the fridge.

No such problems with the Twingo - and I was mightily relieved to get rid of the Bentley and be able to zip around and park at will once again.

April 28, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 36.7mpg

A couple of weeks into running the Twingo and things are mostly positive. However, like any new relationship, a couple of minor - and they are very minor - niggles are beginning to creep in. 

For example, the key fob needs to be pressed for seemingly ages before the tailgate pops open. Why didn't Renault just adopt the double press button favoured by seemingly every other manufacturer?

Also at the rear, the wiper on the all-glass tailgate is too short and doesn't clear enough of the screen, thus hampering what is otherwise superb visibility.

Finally, inside, there's no clutch-foot rest. The same problem afflicts the Smart Fortwo and Forfour, which Renault helped to develop. In all three models, it's a real pain, particularly when you consider that they are all designed primarily with urban use in mind.

April 21, 2015

Fuel economy this week: 36.9mpg

We were excited by the Twingo when it was unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March 2014 - so much so that we now have one our the long-term test fleet.

On paper, it's perfect. Fun, funky, rear-engined for maximum turning circle in tight urban situations, cheap to run, easy to park. There was no downside. OK, so it lacks a Range Rover's heated steering wheel, but I can take my chances with that.

So far it's more than lived up to expectations as an urban car par excellence, with great visibility and five doors. That steering is amazing - it's almost tempting to perform U-turns just for the hell of it. In fact, its turning circle is tighter than that of a London black cab.

Just take a look at that fuel economy, however. In the car's defence, all it has done since arriving with us is sit in stop-start urban traffic or hack along the motorway to reach photoshoot locations, with very little general driving in between.

It's designed for the former, but the latter is not its forte.

Also in the car's defence, it's such a hoot to drive in town - nimble and nippy - that you can end up using the revs. The 999cc, three-cylinder engine is a bit like Fiat's even more diminutive Twinair two-cylinder unit, which is spectacularly wide of the mark when compared with the official figures that Fiat is forced to quote.

So, it's resolution time. Try a lighter touch - or hope that as the mileage builds past 500 the engine will magically become more economical.

Read more long-term tests

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