August 24th, 2010

Rounding up the Renault Twingo Gordini

While Citroen have been battering us to death with their ‘Anti-Retro’ campaign for the new DS3, Fiat has been shifting their 500 Abarth by the truck-load. It would seem its combination of raw power and good looks, garnished with retro charm is what the youth of Britain want. So the French are having another go at charming the young Brits away from the yellow and red scorpion by placing them firmly into the blue driving seat of another iconic name – Gordini.

This is it, the Renault Twingo Gordini RenaultSport 133. Being the first Renault to have a Gordini badge gracing its flanks for over thirty years (the last was the Renault 5 Gordini Turbo in 1982), the French giant has played up its association with the Gordini name with enthusiastic joie de vive. Arguably more famous than the red scorpion logo and red checkered colour scheme of Abarth, the Gordini livery of blue and two white stripes makes a return on the Twingo, but this time with the added benefit of polished alloy wheels, shiny black bumper inserts and white trimmings.

And there’s more. Inside, the Twingo Gordini gets a unique blue and black leather interior, climate control, MP3-connectivity, automatic lights and wipers, and a blue colour-topped steering wheel with two white stripes. Naff? No, just ‘different’.

But young hot hatch lovers won’t mind if they’ve never heard of Gordini as long as the Twingo is fast – that’s all that matters.  Unfortunately, however, in complete contrast with Gordini’s heritage, the Twingo Gordini is no different to the Twingo RenaultSport 133 on which it is based.

You still get the same rev-happy, 8.7 seconds to 60, 40 mpg 133 bhp, 1.6 litre engine that you get in the standard, stripped-out Twingo 133 Cup – which is no bad thing; the 133 Cup is one of the rawest and most visceral little hot hatchbacks money can buy. But the Gordini version should have more. Not necessarily more power, but more charm than the rambunctious 133 Cup.

What it does have more of than the 133 Cup though is nerve. At £14,600 it may well have a leather interior and white air-vent surrounds that look as though they’ve come from Claire’s Accessories, but the Gordini Twingo is £2500 more expensive than the 133 Cup. And that’s not to mention Fiat asking for £1100 less for its Abarth 500 – which is faster, better-looking, and has, arguably, a more renowned badge – and the Renault Clio 200 Cup being only £300 more than the Gordini Twingo.

You would have to be an absolute Gordini fanatic to appreciate this car – someone who remembers the old Renault-Gordinis and therefore someone who is not young. For that reason, if you are over-50, you’d better get to your local Renault dealer as quick as you can to get one – there are only 200 coming to the UK.

To get there even quicker, may I suggest using an Abarth 500?

James Batchelor