At Renault, the small city car project has been underway since the early 1980s. Several ideas follow each other in the management’s design office about a low-cost city car. In 1985, the simple little car X45 project fell off the road again.
One year later, on November 7, 1986, another replacement project was presented to Georges Besse, CEO of Renault. Another Renault 4 replacement model, presented by CGT! In fact, the union, worried about the future of the brand, is confident that a new 4L, simple to manufacture and powered by a Superfive engine, could save the brand.
A project neglected by Georges Besse. Ten days later, on November 17, the CEO was found murdered. Its successor inherited an accounting system in poor condition and had to cut with a chainsaw in all the brand’s projects, Renault 4 was not ready to get a replacement.
A secret project
While everyone thinks the project with a basic little car is definitely buried, some at Renault continue to believe it. However, it will be necessary to wait two years for the W06 project to be launched, at the greatest discretion.
We entrust Jean-Pierre Ploué, designer of the brand, with the pencil stroke on this hypothetical future city car. Over the months, the project takes shape before it finally gets the green light. Between the first pencil stroke and the first Twingo out of line, only thirty-three months will pass.
Never seen !
The brand’s engineers will give free rein to their imagination. In Twingo, everything is creativity. The shape surprises with this unibody body never seen at this level in the series.
Also designed with its crescent headlights and look that some would call a frog. Inside, everything changes, too. Needles disappear in favor of digital instrumentation.
In front of the driver there is nothing! Only a small screen dedicated to the indicators. The speedometer migrates to the center of the dashboard and is also displayed in digital mode. But customers are not at the end of their surprises.
A smart car
It’s inside that Twingo hides its biggest secret: surprising and modular interior space. The seat in the second row surprises the most worn, while you can also push the rear bench seat to favor the trunk or knee space, smart! The Twingo is unlike any other, and the initial reactions fluctuate between rejection and love at first sight.
The Twingo we love it or we hate it. But the little Frenchman will quickly put motorists in his pocket. Renault is aware that the main criticisms focus on its shape and its possible danger in the event of a collision, and will communicate on safety.
We multiply the explanations with the media to praise the resistance to crash tests. Renault broadcasts a video of a crash between Twingo and a heavy Safrane in all the TV news, to demonstrate that the one-box shape and size of the mini-city car is not a handicap.
Everyone understood that the Twingo was safe, now it has to be sold!
A range simplified to the maximum
While competitors Peugeot and Citroën multiply the versions, engines and capabilities of their 106 and AX, Renault will go the opposite way. Only one body is available, the three-door.
The Twingo can only be ordered with the unique Cleon cast iron 1.2-liter 55 hp engine. An old engine, but which has the advantage of being profitable for a long time. Everything is offered only with a single finish, without options, at a single price of 54,000 F.
The only traces of luxury are the tinted windows, the radio equipment, the modular rear seat and for those who love fresh air, a canvas sunroof.
A lasting success
Available in only four opaque but not very discreet colors, coriander green, ultramarine blue, coral red and Indian yellow, Twingo initially does not offer metallic paint. During his fifteen-year career, the success is undeniable.
Customers love their Twingo and appreciate its low price, spaciousness and simplicity. After 2.4 million Twingos sold, Renault presents another generation. More expensive, more bourgeois, less practical and less cheerful, it falls in line.
This Twingo 2 will only be produced in 900,000 units before making room for a third generation that will complete the concept. To think that it is complicated to do simple.
In 1993, the Twingo was billed at 54,000 F. The minimum hourly wage was 34.83 F. It was therefore necessary to work 1551 hours to get advice. Today, a Twingo 3 starts at € 15,750. The minimum wage on an hourly basis is € 10.57. It is therefore necessary to work 1490 hours to afford one.