Hello! I am a 22-year-old arts student and I’ve just graduated with honours. Dad wants to buy me a car after doing so well, but I don’t want a boring everyday commuter which every second person drives…

Alright, I give up on the shenanigans. I’ll admit I am none of the above really and I can only wish to be so lucky as to be given a new car, but there is good reason for me starting this review so unconventionally.

What if you are looking for a car in the upper levels of the compact hatch segment but don’t want to go for the popular Polo, innocuous Jazz or a boring Auris and the like? Something with flair is needed; something not many people have and something that is exciting to drive. Boys and girls, I give you the Renault Twingo.

Not any Twingo, though. I’m talking about the range-topper – the Gordini. To use its full title, the Renault Twingo Renault Sport Gordini was launched late last year and gives the Twingo model series a very special daddy, and I’ll delve into the details of why in a paragraph or two. You probably haven’t ever seen one on the road and that’s good – we’re going for exclusivity here, remember?

And exclusive it certainly is! The Gordini builds on the design differences introduced by the normal Twingo RS and gives them a special touch of French flair. White-painted fog light surrounds make the front end stand out while the deep black-bottomed air intake grille enhances the lowered look.

Two signature white stripes then adorn the bonnet and flow over the roof, and with metallic “G” logos imprinted, they are much more than two licks of paint casually strewn over the car. The stubby side profile is beefed up by sculpted side skirts and with beautiful diamond-finish 17-inch wheels,

Twingo Gordini sure means business. White door mirrors and a “Gordini Series” badge complete the look, along with flared wheel arches. The rear is finished off by a white-painted roof spoiler, a diffuser-look bumper design and a cheeky little exhaust outlet, while the white stripes come to an end on the tailgate. Finished in exclusive Malta Blue, the Gordini is a beautiful example of French zest.

On the inside, the blue and white theme is continued, with the black interior surfaces and features being interspersed by the signature colours. The layout is cute and funky, with a quirky dial arrangement atop the middle of the dashboard, and a pod-style rev counter perched above the steering wheel. Featuring a shift indicator light and a printed background, the white stripes are continued in the dial and onto the steering wheel which features a blue leather upper rim section and two white stripes denoting the centre point.

The leather seats also feature blue inserts and the gear lever exhibits the Gordini badge set on a metallic blue 3D-look knob. The centre console is neatly laid out with audio and climate buttons and while it doesn’t really have any highlights, there are no problems either. A special Gordini model number plate also features, with the car’s number in the series proudly on show.

Space in the diminutive Twingo has been expertly managed in typical Renault fashion, and up front you should have no trouble getting comfortable even if you’re of the taller disposition. The rear seats are fairly easy to access given the size of the car and because they slide fore and aft, rear leg room shouldn’t be a problem either.

They can also be completely removed and easily so, turning this little hot hatch into a DIY weekend shopping car if need be. Boot space isn’t what I would call generous but with the rear seats as far back as they will go, even a Saturday trip to Sandton should be fine, doll.

The engine department is where people like me will be salivating, though. Powered by the same normally-aspirated 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine as the normal Twingo RS, the Gordini’s character really comes to light when you fire it up. A fizzy idle and naughty exhaust note are just a front to what is more a driver’s car than a city runabout. Flooring the throttle introduces a glorious induction sound and because the Gordini revs past 7000rpm, the rumble quickly turns into a shriek.

Then you have the 5-speed manual gearbox, which is not only slick and precise but also offers great control and fun thanks to a well-weighted clutch. Coupled to the shift indicator light, you’ll end up having more fun driving the Gordini between robots than a dog chasing after a tennis ball. Suspension is on the firm side but appropriately so, and the Gordini handles like a go-kart with sure-footed responses and high levels of grip. Brakes are also pin-sharp, inspiring confidence when the distance between said robots isn’t very much.

A very meaty 98kW are on tap along with 160Nm of torque, making the Gordini a pleasure to potter around town in and also a little menace when your right foot gets itchy. Fuel consumption is claimed at a reasonable 7.0-litres per 100km with carbon emissions at 165g/km. After my evaluation, which naturally consisted mostly of lead-footed driving, I returned a less-mild 9.4-litres per 100km. Remember why you’re buying this, though. The 0-100km/h sprint takes just 8.7 seconds and top speed is pegged at 201km/h.

The features list is decent and with all the usual comfort items like climate control, electric windows and mirrors and remote central locking on hand, you won’t really complain. Cruise control also features, along with auto lights and wipers. The few options include a panoramic sunroof, special Gordini mats and a Gordini key cover. Perhaps the quirkiest feature of the entire car was the hooter, which is a button on the end of the indicator stalk rather than on the steering wheel, believe it or not! Safety is of course Renault’s game and the Gordini achieves five EuroNCAP stars thanks to six airbags, ABS brakes with EBD (anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution) and ESP traction control (electronic stability program).

Gordini is to Renault what Black Series is to Mercedes-Benz AMG – the better, even better. Riding on a rich history which stretches back to the late 1950’s, Gordini-badged Renaults have always been extra-special, and finished in this iconic paint scheme. And you really do sense that special attention the car has received in factory, with typical French oddities and quirks. Yes, there were a few rattles on the test car and yes, there are better cars for the same money but as I know many petrol heads will agree with me, a perfect car is boring, and that’s exactly what I don’t want after my arts degree.

For R214 900 including emissions tax, a 3-year/60 000km service plan and 5-year/150 000km warranty, Twingo Gordini is sitting at the table with the likes of the VW Polo 1.6 TDI, the Honda Jazz 1.5 Executive, Toyota’s Auris XS and the Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sport, amongst others. And quite frankly, all of those cars are better. Which puzzled me while testing the Gordini, because who in their right financial mind would buy this car over the others, all of which offer more space, practicality and thus value for money?


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