Sold in more than 2.5 million units, the first generation launched in early 1993 is entitled to an exhibition at the heart of the Retromobile show, which opened its doors on Wednesday in Paris.

There is of course the original Twingo, 3.43 meters long and yellow with the sunroof (optional), a racing prototype with the "Elf" logo and an electric version "tuned" like a Californian "hot rod", with gold wheels and pink carpet.

"She is one of the brand's popular icons", describes Hugues Portron, head of Renault Classics.

"It's the replacement for the 4L with the same philosophy: a car for everyone".

The chip will have no replacement in the segment of small non-electric city cars, according to Renault.

The third generation of Twingo, which just won an electric version in December 2020, could therefore be the last.

Inexpensive, practical and colorful

The project for a small low-end vehicle was born in the 1970s at Renault, before being harshly criticized internally.

The interior of a Twingo, December 21, 2001, in Paris © - / OFF/AFP/Archives

The designers Jean-Pierre Ploué and Patrick Le Quément relaunched the idea in 1988. It was then a tiny version (about 800 kilos on the scale) of the "monospace", the versatile format that the Grand Espace had inaugurated.

"The roominess is almost as large as the car, the bench seat is foldable and the front seats extend; you can even sleep there", underlines Mr. Portron.

"But I had a lot of Twingo, and I tried: you really have to be very tired".

Above all, the manufacture of this entry-level must cost 20% less than a classic car.

There will therefore be only one version (single option: the sunroof), no right-hand steering wheel (therefore no exports to the United Kingdom), and fixed rear windows.

Even the radio aerial is on a rear-view mirror, to save cable lengths and make assembly faster.

The only engine available at launch is the "Cléon Fonte", a small engine already proven on the 4L, modernized, but still a bit greedy.

Renault adds tinted windows, a cigarette lighter, an LCD screen and a clown-nose distress button.

It is offered at 55,000 francs, around 13,000 euros today.

But why this name?

For TWist, sWING and tanGO, enough to give it an offbeat image.

It is also available at the beginning only in yellow, red, blue and green.


The success is there, with versions first manufactured in Flins (Yvelines) but also in Spain, and in Colombia until 2012.

A latest model Twingo at the Tokyo Auto Show on January 15, 2016 © KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP/Archives

Renault will draw inspiration from ready-to-wear to offer "collections", with changing colors and a host of special series, such as the "Benetton" with colored seats.

More than 400,000 first-generation Twingos were still driving in France in 2022, according to the AAAdata firm.

When it arrived in Colombia, it was "innovative, daring", but also "cheap and economical at the pump" compared to other models, testifies Monica Rincon, who sells Renaults in Cali, in the south-west of the country. country.

Alongside thousands of Renault 4s, many Twingos still drive there and exceed 300,000 kilometres, she testifies.

In January, the Colombian star Shakira also quoted the model in a song to make fun of her ex-partner, accusing him of having "left a Ferrari for a Twingo".

But if the old Twingo may be dead… long live the electric Twingo!

Renault successfully manufactures a battery-powered version in Slovenia.

In France, the company R-Fit is preparing a kit for converting Twingos to electric, while the start-up Lormauto plans to soon offer renovated and electrified models, from 200 euros per month.

© 2023 AFP