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Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Twingo is the modern day Renault 5

SOMETIMES you can have too much technology for your own good.

Take my mobile, for instance, which for the past few days has been at the menders, looking sorry for itself. The smartypants smartphone in question has more computing power than an Apollo Moon mission, the ability to upload any of the thousands of photographs it’s taken to Facebook in an instant AND the ability to phone home. Yet all it took to render its armada of tech completely useless was a hairline crack in the screen.

That’s why I’ve done the mobile phone equivalent of getting a courtesy car while the Lexus is being repaired – and entrusted the job to a phone I bought brand new for a tenner. I might have gone back 15 years but there’s something hugely fun about having a bargain basement phone whose luxuries stop at an FM-only radio, a torch, and the ability to go three days – not a couple of hours – without running out of juice. Imagine if you could have that frills-free fun factor in a car!

Happily, the automotive answer to the £10 mobile is alive and well – and no, it’s not the Dacia Sandero I was hoping – but didn’t – to discover it in last year. I’d suggest looking to Renault – Dacia’s parent company, don’t forget – and its new Twingo.

It couldn’t be more different from its predecessor if it tried – while that car was front-engined, front-wheel-drive and not all that exciting to look at, the new one’s shoved a tiny little three cylinder engine in the boot and has the rounded cuteness of a newly-born Pug.

Inside, it’s all big dials, bright colours and not much else. You can spec it up with a tablet-style multimedia system with voice control and DAB radio but that’s missing the point – if it’s big car luxuries in a little package, you might as well as go for the downsized Golf ambience you get in a Volkswagen Up. The Twingo’s fun comes from its flyweight feel – it’ll feel a bit thrashier on the motorway, but around town and on tight, twisty roads it’s big fun.

Anyone who loved the old Renault 5 – and I should know, I used to run around in one – will appreciate the old car’s focus on fun and function lives on in the new Twingo. It is that rare thing – a small car that isn’t pretending to be an executive express in half the length.

I’d happily have a Twingo for the same reason I’m quite attached to my £10 phone. It’s got all the fun you need, and all the clutter you don’t.

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