Renault Twingo I, a curiosity in the civilised Europe, a miserable car in the Balkans, and a cult classic in America. Renault Twingo I, one of the cheapest ways to have fun on four wheels.

The Renault Twingo I remained on the market from 1993 until 2007. Why so long? Partly because it was such a good car, partly because the French wanted to retire it in 2003 but changed their mind, and partly because nobody was interested in the concept of the city car back then. It’s not like it wasn’t bad enough that people were barely buying Opel Corsa, Ford Fiesta, or VW Polo, to go even one class down was hard to conceive in the 2000s. At a time when everyone was buying VW Golf IV and Passat B5.5 and normal people were buying Megane II or Ford Focus II, it’s not hard to see why the Renault Twingo I didn’t catch on with the public.

Why was it a miserable car in Eastern Europe?

Because in 2004 the Dacia Logan came along, the quintessential A-to-B, barebones cheap car. A Renault Twingo I cost almost twice as much as a Logan in 2004. Yes, you read that right, almost double. Almost double the price of the Logan for a car with no boot and a design that dates back to 1993. If you needed a practical new car, you’d get a Logan. If you wanted something somewhat reliable used, you’d get a Ford Focus II. If you were a real man, you’d buy a second-hand E46 or E39 from Germany and show the suckers who’s the boss of the streets.

Why was it a brilliant car and does it have a cult following in America?

  • For one thing, Americans were taken by surprise by the inoffensive looks of the Renault Twingo I. I’m not discussing that look because to me it just looks like a more curvaceous Lupo.
  • Surprisingly, the Renault Twingo I comes with an independent MacPherson strut suspension, just like the Ford Focus I. I won’t go into detail about the suspension, but if you’ve driven a Focus I, you know what I mean and especially the stability in bends and at high speeds.

And while we’re on the subject of high speeds, even the first Twingo was a comically fast car. Yes, it got a maximum of 75 horsepower, but the car weighs as much as a bag of potatoes so those horses feel much more intense than in other cars. The fact that it’s a very light car also means you don’t need power steering, which is probably why power steering was optional for a long time.


Renault Twingo I Engines


  • 1.0 D7D of 59 horsepower – Launched only in 2000-2001, this engine is quite hard to find. Unless you insist. But why would you insist on a 1.0 engine?
  • 1.2 D7F, D4F, and C3G of 58 and 75 horsepower – Same engine but went through various stages of power and emissions restrictions. If you change the timing belt every 4 years or 50,000 km, change the spark plugs occasionally, and start cleaning the valves every 100,000 km, this engine will still be turning over long after the car has met its sudden end either in a ditch, a car park or in exchange for cash for clunkers.

Renault Twingo I General Issues

  • Like any Renault from the 2000s, watch out for the electrics. At least there aren’t so many electrics on the Twingo. Special mention for the headlights that tend to fall off.
  • There aren’t many electrics on Twingo because the car is as bald as Johnny Sins. Many of them don’t have power steering, power brakes, electric windows, windows of any kind, or seats.
  • The steering wheel vibrates and shakes because nobody cared about the geometry of the wheels or the overall stability of the car. Renault Twingo I, a car you really don’t want to drive out of town.
  • Somewhere around 2001, the Twingo got a semi-automatic gearbox. You don’t have to be a graduate of the school of streetsmarts to realize why you’d make a mistake buying one.


Renault Twingo I Verdict

If you want a semi-sporty car to have fun with on a budget, you’ll be deeply impressed by what a Twingo can do. If you want to deliver food but don’t want to spend 1500 euros on a Lupo, then a Twingo does the same job, at half the price. If you want a cheap car to do your job in, get a Logan.

Which engine do I recommend? Absolutely, without a doubt, the 75 horsepower 1.2 petrol. Believe me, in a car that weighs as much as two bottles of whiskeys, in the 75 horsepower vs 58 horsepower battle you can really feel the difference coming from those 17 bhp.