Renault’s rear-engined Twingo — Sharing with smart

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(February 25, 2014) Mercedes and Renault are partners in the luxury sphere (Infiniti and Mercedes will share technology, powertrains and, possibly, platforms), but the first fruits of this collaboration will combine the talents of Renault and smart to produce a replacement for Renault’s Twingo and smart’s ForFour.

Renault was looking to make the Twingo roomier and more nimble, and focused on a rear-engined layout similar to that found on smart’s two-seat ForTwo. It’s no longer a popular layout for mainstream cars, having had its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s when rear-mounted engines were used on everything from the VW Beetle to the Chevrolet Corvair, the Hillman Imp and Renault’s Dauphine.

Interestingly, VW showed the Up! concept with a rear-mounted engine, but chose front-driv
e for the production car as the Beetle-like layout proved to show signs of directional instability in side winds.

That hasn’t stopped Renault, or smart for that matter. Few details about the new Twingo exist, including its dimensions, powertrain and more, but you can expect those to filter out
after the Geneva Motor Show. Britain’s Autocar suggests the three-cylinder turbo motor will be mounted on its side between the rear wheels, a layout very similar to the Porsche-designed EA76 concept created for VW prior to the introduction of the Golf. Whether the cars will continue to use the aging 1.0-liter Mitsubishi 3B21 engine remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely.

However, one can only hope the companies replace the pathetic automated manual used in the current smart with something less agricultural.

The Virtual Driver