Renault Twingo 1 (1992): design history

tags: , | in: Production Cars 21 March 2007
Renault Twingo 1 (1992): design history

We publish a brief design history of the original Twingo project, started by Renault in the 1980s with the W-60 name and developed under the direction of Patrick Le Quément, until the official debut in 1992 and the commercial launch in 1993.

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The W60 Concept by Marcello Gandini (1986)
The front side window has a Diablo-like design

The origin of Twingo dates back in 1980s, when Renault started to develop a minivan successor to the R4 model, originally launched in 1961.

Under the VBG (Véhicule Bas de Gamme) project several concept vehicles were created (Z in 1981-83, X49 in 1981-82, X44 in 1983-84 and X45 in 1984-85).

The difficult task was to create a car to be sold for less than the existing entry-level models (R5, SuperCinq, Clio), not to compete with these ones and to bring back money to the company.

At a certain point the development of the project – named W-60 – was arrested.

Renault Twingo - Design StudyIn 1987, president Raymond Lévy decided to restart the project, changing its codename into "X-06" and assigning its direction to Patrick Le Quément – who had just joined Renault – with a tiny 3,5 billion Francs ($700 million) budget.

Patrick Le Quément was given the two 1:1 scale models developed for the former W-60 project, one designed by Gaston Juchet’s tema, and the other one designed by Marcello Gandini.

From the start, Patrick Quément firmly believed in the concept: during the following months he developed the idea of a compact monospace vehicle (following the success of the Espace) whose exterior and interior styling had to be carefully crafted to make it a successful icon and not a simple "carrier".

Renault Twingo interior sketch Renault Twingo interior design

He gave this task to Jean-Pierre Ploué (exterior) and Gérard Gauvbry (interior), but he himself decided the general proportions, with the wheels at the corners of the car, the large front track – larger than the Clio’s one – and the "froggy" face.

The final design was frozen in 1988, but even if Raymond Lévy found it perfect, the car raised controversial comments within the Company.

It is said that a disappointed Patrick Le Quément sent a note to his Chairman: "The greatest risk is not to take any risks, and I ask you to vote for instinctive design against extinctive marketing" it read. Levy’s reply was "I agree." (Source: "Please Displease Me" – Fast Company, Issue 89, December 2004).

Renault Twingo at Paris 1992On 5th October 1992 the Twingo was unveiled at the 1992 Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris, and it was an instant hit, with 2240 reservation forms signed.

Among the original features of the car were the centrally mounted instrument panel, the unseen colors and the modular interior with the sliding rear seat, which could be moved to either increase boot space or rear seat legroom.

The "Twingo" name was a combination of the terms "Twist", "Swing" and "Tango" and put the accent on the fun and active character of the car.

Since its launch in 1993, the Twingo has undergone three restylings in 1998, 2000 and 2004 and has been sold in more than 2.4 million units.

The Beskid 106 Prototype

One of the main inspirations of the original Twingo project appears to be the Beskid 106 prototype, developed by Polish FSM and its controlled research center BOSMAL as a replacement for the 126p produced at FSM’s plants under Fiat’s license.

The Beskid 106 was created by a design team led by engineer Wieslaw Wiatrak. Following the final blueprints (1981-1982), the first prototype was completed in 1983.

Its most original feature was the aerodynamic body with a monovolume shape. It was designed by Krzysztof Meissner, from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, and underwent extensive wind-tunnel testing that resulted in a very low drag coefficient of 0.29.

Political and economic reasons prevented serial production. Government officials ordered all the seven prototypes to be destroyed. The engineers disobeyed them, and today the Beskid can be viewed at the Museum of Technology at the Warsaw Pałac Kultury i Nauki.

The novel monospace body was patented, but BOSMAL had no funds for the extention of the patent. When Renault launched the Twingo, more than 10 years later, the Polish patent had already expired. The similarities with the Twingo caused the Beskid 106 to be nicknamed the "Polish Twingo".

For more information about the Beskid 106 prototype, visit AutoHistories.com.

2004 Renault TwingoBibliography/Links on the Renault Twingo:

2004 Renault Twingo 2004 Renault Twingo

Renault Twingo I – History milestones

Twingo’s History Milestones Date
Commercial Launch in France April 1993
2nd Twingo Collection October 1994
Twingo Easy (manual gearbox without clutch pedal) September 1994
3rd Twingo Collection September 1996
Twingo’Matic (3-speed automatic gearbox) September 1996
New petrol engine D7F 1.2 60 hp September 1996
Production of 1,000,000th Twingo July 1997
Launch of Twingo 2 (4th Collection) September 1998
Launch of the New Twingo (5th Collection) September 2000
New petrol engine 1.2 16V 75 hp December 2000
Production of the 2,000,000th Twingo June 2002
Twingo New Collection September 2002
New Twingo range September 2004

(Source: Renault)

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