Heritage | 16 July 2014

Small Renaults, long-standing players in changes in society

For the launch of new Twingo, let’s look back at the history of small Renault cars, each one of which has successfully responded to changes in society and still holds a special place in the hearts of motorists.
by Groupe Renault

1946: 4 CV, the first small Renault with mass appeal

The war has been over for a few months. Europe is starting to rebuild and the population is once again able to think about the future and return to a more peaceful reality. For those looking to head out on the roads and enjoy their new freedom, the 4 CV was the perfect solution. The rear-engined car, designed by engineers in secret during the war, was roomy enough for a family and its luggage. The new model’s competitive price tag made car ownership a possibility for a large part of the population. The 4 CV marked the postwar years, appealing with its self-derision and simplicity to a broad public, from the working classes to the middle classes.


1961: Renault 4L, the first “car for living”

The postwar boom is on. The economy is recovering, innovation is rife and living standards are improving with the widespread availability of new consumer goods, including household appliances and automobiles. Families are going out, enjoying their free time, travelling, and mad about exploring wide open spaces.
It was for these families that Renault created the Renault 4L. The 4L would become a legend with its revolutionary and practical tailgate, offering easy loading access for all the family and its luggage. Renault’s first real “car for living”, the 4L is the third best-selling car model in automotive history, selling in over eight million units worldwide between 1961 and the 1990s.


1972: Renault 5, the spirit of 1968

Morals have loosened in the wake of the events of 1968. Most Europeans enjoy greater freedom and their leisure activities and travel are becoming more diverse.
This euphoric period was to come to an abrupt end in 1973 with the first oil crisis. The Renault 5, with its low fuel consumption (4.5 l/100 km at 90 kph), arrived at exactly the right time. It was a new kind of small car, boasting appeal, with its friendly face, and versatility, with its “smart” bumpers made out of synthetic materials for protection when parking. Launched in 1972, the Renault 5 quickly found its public (31% women and 35% people under 30 in the first year) and went on to achieve lasting success. In the mid-1980s, Renault replaced the Renault 5 with the Super Five. Produced in 8.5 million units between 1972 and 1996, the Renault 5 enjoyed a long career and continues to hold a special place in the hearts of motorists. It was also released in high-energy sports versions that gained legendary status, including the R5 Alpine and R5 Turbo. 


1993: Twingo, the “crisis-proof” car

The crisis continues, economies are undermined by the stock-market crash, and fuel prices are on the rise, largely owing to the Gulf War. But the Berlin Wall has recently fallen, opening up a new future for Europe. The dichotomy is in place: we want to dream of a better future but everyday life keeps us from doing so.
And then came Twingo, a thoroughly original city car that shook up the automotive paradigm. Launched with one engine, one trim level and four bright colors, Twingo put a smile on people’s faces, even by dint of its name, a blend of the words “twist”, “swing” and “tango”. The first small single-box car on the market, it boasted an irresistibly joyful “gaze” and unique body styling, with an ultra-short nose and a useful cabin length of 1.78 m. The new model was an unprecedented success on reveal at the Paris Motor Show, standing as Renault’s little “crisis-proof” car. With its modular design and versatility, Twingo was perfect for all kinds of motoring, and was sighted as much on the open road as it was in the city – and often full to bursting!


Today: Twingo’s eternal optimism

In a globalized – and some would say, homogenized – world, we have a right to seek out distinction. New technologies are opening up a new world of expression and freedom, one in which taking part and playing are key.
It is in this new society that new Twingo is to carve out its place and put smiles on people’s faces. Fun, ultra-maneuverable and connected, still small outside and big inside, the new model is designed for the city, with a class-leading turning radius of 4.30 m. It once again sets the tone with its bright body colors, giving owners full rein to express themselves. New Twingo is a worthy heir to Renault’s classic small cars and the eternal optimism of Twingo. While boasting its own distinct personality, like its forerunners it is innovative, “for living” and full of soul.


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