Geneva 2014: New Twingo product manager talks about the new car
We met up with New Twingo product manager Sébastien Crochemore on the Renault stand and asked him a few questions about the car he refers to as his “baby”.
Sébastien, can you tell us about the origin of the project? Starting out from scratch, what was the design brief?
The design brief was to meet the needs of urban drivers, so we had to design a compact, manoeuvrable car but with a spacious interior. The challenge was making the car shorter outside and bigger inside. Asking an engineer to do that is like asking him to square the circle! To meet the challenge, as early as 2008 we looked at the possibility of mounting the engine at the rear to free up space at the front and improve the car’s handling.
So what was the trigger?
To develop the rear-engined architecture, we needed a partner, because the investment in that kind of platform couldn’t be recouped with just one vehicle. That’s when we met the teams at Daimler, who had the experience we needed. We began the co-development project, dividing up our respective tasks. We worked on a daily basis with the people at Daimler, who even set up shop with us at the Technocentre offices.
Practically speaking, what are the advantages of the rear-engined architecture?
By putting the engine at the rear, we made the car more manoeuvrable, with a turning diameter of 8.65 m, or the same as a two-seater Smart. It also enabled us to increase cabin space (+22 cm inside despite being 10 cm shorter than the current Twingo). And we maintained trunk volume, obtaining a fully usable 219 liters by using a rectangular shape, with no loss in volume (no wheel arches, etc.).
And no problems with overheating in the trunk with the rear-mounted engine?
The engine is insulated with foam and a cast-iron plate for thermal and acoustic protection. So there’s no risk of overheating. Come to think of it, when driving a front-engined car, does your glove box heat up?
How did you succeed in giving new life to the Twingo spirit?
First of all, what is the Twingo spirit? I’d say it’s about modernity, doing something new, the fun and personalized side, as well as reassurance. We tried to infuse the new car with all that, but obviously without copying the older models. In terms of saying something new, we were able to make the car smaller outside and bigger inside, and easier to handle. The fun element is in the front end and in all the customizable components, including the wheels, side moldings, wing mirrors, grilles, seats, armrests, and dashboard. Also fun are the four launch colors, which make a nod to the first Twingo. All of these touches lend the car a joyous side – a true Twingo feature.
What are the major new features on the third-generation model?
As I said earlier, we wanted the interior to be practical. Customers get 52 liters of storage compartments, with nets under the rear bench and cubbies in the rear door panels, as well as rear-seat roominess worthy of the segment above. This is also the first five-door Twingo, which is a real plus for customers. One of the real advantages of the car is its connectivity. Witt the R&Go app, customers can hook up their smartphones to the car radio using a universal media and use the satnav, onboard computer and so on. Twingo will also be available with R-Link Evolution, the built-in capacitive screen.
Between us, are you proud when you look at it today on the stand?
Of course I am. It’s a great result. But for now only journalists have been able to see it. Just one day after the reveal, I’m still in cautious mode, waiting to see what the general public thinks about it!