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Renault's baby RS finally here

2009-05-27 08:16
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Renault
Model Twingo RS
Engine 1.6l 16v
Power 98kW @ 6 750r/min
Torque 160Nm @ 4 400r/min
Transmission Five-speed manual
Zero To Hundred 8.7 seconds
Top Speed 201km/h
Fuel Tank 40l
Fuel Consumption 7l/100km
Weight 1 049kg
ABS Yes, with EBD
Airbags Dual front and side
Tyres Continental Sport 3 195/45 R16
Front Suspension MacPherson type with aluminium lower arm and anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension Programmed-deflection flexible beam with coil springs
Service Plan 3 year/45 000km
Price R195 500
Renault’s latest hot hatch might be the smallest of the local RS trio, yet this Dieppe-fettled Twingo is no toy. It might be the baby RS, but has all the verve of its bigger RS siblings.

Designed and engineered with the same intent and focus which has elevated its Clio and Megane Renaultsport offerings to the top echelons of the hot hatch hierarchy, this Twingo RS is one naughty little car.

Boy racer looks

Aesthetically, Twingo RS sports all the requisite boy racer styling paraphernalia expected of a junior hot hatch.

Factor in those wider fenders, deeper sills, new bumper with generous cut outs housing fog lights in metallic-finish surrounds and the cheeky rear hatch spoiler, and it’s practically impossible to mistake this for a standard Twingo.

Behind these boy racer styling embellishments are some dynamically validated running changes.

Dynamic intent

Those wider fenders house 195/45 profile tyres rolling on 16-inch alloy wheels, and perhaps more importantly, the additional width spaces out fore and aft increases in track (59mm and 60mm respectively) which should result in higher levels of grip.

Twingo RS rides 10mm lower than its standard siblings too, which in conjunction with a recalibrated power steering system, upgraded dampers and thicker rear anti-roll bars, should render a car which is every bit as agile as its R27 Clio and Megane big brothers.

Powering up the Twingo RS is a mildly tweaked version of Renault’s K4M RS 1.6l four-cylinder engine.

Featuring a stroke bias of only 1mm, the RS engine is nearly square in terms of architecture, and thanks to a new throttle valve unit, reprofiled camshafts operating increased valve lift duration and a 11,0:1 compression ratio, performance should be keen.

Renault quotes power figures of 98kW at 6 750r/min and peak rotational force of 160Nm at 4 400r/min. A four-into-one exhaust system should ensure market related acoustic appeal to the hot hatch customer base.

The 1.6l engine revs to 7 000r/min and features a performance exhaust which should appeal to the hot hatch kamikaze brigade Twingo RS is aimed at.

Driving through a Renaultsport optimised JR5, five-speed manua,l gearbox with closely spaced ratio’s, a 0-100km/h sprint of 8.7 seconds and 201km/h top speed is on the cards.

Thanks to a low 1049kg kerb weight, 7l/100km EU cycle consumption should be achievable with principled throttle discipline.

Considering this performance Twingo’s low weight and reasonable (instead of suicidal) straight line performance credentials, the braking system appears nearly over engineered.

At a shade over 1ton, Renault could probably have gotten away with rear drums, yet the Twingo RS features Megane II sourced 280mm front discs (ventilated) actuated by 57mm Laguna callipers. At the rear 240mm discs clamped by 34mm callipers.

Boosted by Bosch 8.1 ABS and EBD hydraulic assistance, track day antics should pose no problems for the Twingo’s stopping abilities…

The only hot hatch for under R200 000?

Inside, the Twingo RS retains the standard range’s peculiar cabin layout, devoid of a dead ahead instrument binnacle, with only the tachometer occupying position - all alone - behind the steering wheel. It features a shift light indicator, integrated into the tachometer dial, and is calibrated in a garish speed-demon font.

The speedometer is completely offset atop the centre console – which is the last place it should be in a hot hatch, as passengers can see how fast you’re travelling and comment.

Cabin's ergonomically eccentric layout features a central speedo for everyone to peruse and comment on, whilst the radio/CD player offset at such a sharp angle of inclination you'll never be inclined to operated it any other way than via the steering wheel sattelite controls.

Twingo RS standard equipment is quite comprehensive. Standard features include climate control, electrically operated front windows and exterior mirrors, a MP3-compatible single-CD receiver with satellite controls and an auxiliary input for MP3 players.

The smallest Renault RS model also features a thick-rimmed, four-spoke steering wheel, trimmed in perforated leather and ergonomically shaped to promote a ten-to-two hand position for dynamic driving.

Options include an elaborate exterior graphic treatment, whilst aluminium-trimmed pedals, embossed with very fetching pause, stop and play motifs for the clutch, brake and accelerator, can be ordered too.

Optional pause-stop-play aluminium pedal set is a neat Gallic design touch.

As part of Renault’s local RS marketing strategy, all Renaultsport products purchased after 1 April include a free high performance driving course conducted by Drive ’n Survive’s Gavin Kelsey and his team.

Priced at R195 000, the Twingo offers the only sub R200 000 entry point to hot hatch driving available locally - unless you consider Citroen's C2 VTS or Fiat's Grande Punto 1.4 T-Jet Sport 3-door viable aleternatives.

Toyota’s Yaris TS retails at R220 400, Ford’s previous generation Fiesta ST is off the market and VW’s Polo GTI priced way out of the comparison at R240 500.

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