Road test 

Car: Renault Twingo Renaultsport 133 Cup

Prices: £12,100

Insurance groups: 8

Performance: Max Speed 124mph / 0-60mph 8.7s

Fuel consumption: 40mpg

Standard safety features: ABS with EBD, Driver and passenger airbags, front lateral airbags.

Dimensions: L3601/w1640/h1472 mm

Renault Twingo Renaultsport 133 Cup
The hardcore Twingo Renaultsport 133 goes a little crazier in Cup guise.

It’s said that little dogs are more likely to bite and this Twingo isn’t shy of baring its teeth

The Cup version of the Renaultsport Twingo 133 ditches features like air-conditioning and automatic headlights in favour of yet firmer suspension and sharper responses. The hardcore set-up won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but hot-hatch fans should lap it up.

Renault’s hot hatchback reputation has never been stronger than it is today and with every new addition to the firm’s Renaultsport stable, the rose tinting through which fans view the brand grows a fraction heavier. Amongst the enthusiasts that lust after and prop-up the market for fast small cars, there’s a particular strata of Renaultsport model that’s prized above all others. We’re talking about the hardcore Cup variants and despite its roots as a lovable city car, the French brand’s Twingo model in Renaultsport Twingo 133 Cup guise looks destined for the usual adulation.

When it comes to performance cars, power is less important than the ability to use it. The philosophy behind Renaultsport Cup models is to do with enhancing their performance not by tweaking turbochargers and re-mapping engines to generate extra bhp, but by allowing the car to carry more speed through corners and shedding weight to enhance the effect of what power there already is. Through various Cup versions of the Clio and Megane, the results have never been less than impressive, so hopes are high for the Twingo.

As its name suggests, the Twingo Renaultsport 133 Cup packs a 133bhp punch: that’s quite a hit in a car this small. The engine, a 1.6-litre unit, delivers its peak power at 6,750rpm, so you’ll need to be quite aggressive with the throttle if you want to extract optimum performance. You’ll be rewarded with a decidedly rude exhaust note from the four-into-one system and a deep-chested timbre from the induction system up front. This is not your average warmed over shopping trolley.

The Cup chassis is a series of modifications and component upgrades made to the standard Renaultsport Twingo package. The Cup car rides 4mm lower, has revised damper settings and its springs are ten percent stiffer front and rear. It all serves to tighten up the Renaultsport Twingo’s already strict body control, reduce weight transfer and increase stability in corners. That, in turn, helps the car go faster.

It’s said that little dogs are more likely to bite and this Twingo isn’t shy of baring its teeth. The exterior highlights would take some time to cover in detail but include 17-inch anthracite-coloured alloy wheels shod with Continental Sport Contact3 tyres, a wide air intake in the front bumper, side sills, front and rear wings, a chrome tail pipe and quite a bit more besides.

Build quality seems decent enough, the Slovenian factory where the Twingo is built enjoying a good reputation for low warranty claims. The car’s interior is also spacious for the citycar sector but boot is a bit pokey. Improving the look of the interior are figure-hugging sports seats, a perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel and a rev counter located in the straight ahead position.

Some of the boy-racer accoutrements are a little OTT but the Twingo Renaultsport is too likeable to get sniffy about and ‘boy-racer’ pretty much defines its target market. How many other cars combine a rev counter with a number font that gets bigger as you approach 7,000rpm, a stitched marker on the steering wheel to indicate the straight ahead position and gearshift up warning lights?

The Cup chassis has been an option on the normal car from the outset but this Twingo Renaultsport 133 Cup model does away with lots of standard equipment to shed weight and cost. It ultimately means that the Cup is some £700 less than a Twingo Renaultsport 133 and £1,350 less than a Twingo Renaultsport 133 with the Cup chassis fitted as an option.

So what exactly has been stripped away and should it be a problem? The Cup model has no air-conditioning, no automatic headlamps, no automatic wipers and no tinted windows. In the rear is has a one-piece fixed bench seat in place of the two individually sliding chairs in the standard car. Whether that stuff is a major loss or not depends on your point of view but one suspects that the fast Twingo’s core market of younger drivers who may want to take the car on track will happily swap some creature comforts for a more favourable price and better chance of embarrassing the driver of something expensive on a twisty circuit.

Being a compact city car as well as a hot hatch, the Renaultsport Twingo was developed with the big environment issue very much in mind and that means Twingo buyers should be able to run one with their green conscience and their bank balance relatively intact. Achieving around 42mpg on the combined cycle, the 1.6-litre engine has one of the lowest fuel consumption figures of any petrol-powered shopping rocket and relatively tax-friendly CO2 emissions of 160g/km will also benefit the car’s bottom line. The group 8 insurance will be another boon.

Stripped back almost to the bare necessities of looking good, going quickly and not costing too much, the Renault Twingo Renaultsport 133 Cup looks like another hot hatchback success story for Renault. By removing a few creature comforts, sharpening up the dynamics and lowering the price, Renault has made its fastest Twingo yet more appealing to the young enthusiast buyers who were most likely to covet the standard car anyway. There can’t be many new cars that will deliver more fun for less.
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