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New Smart-Based Renault Twingo Debuts In Geneva

Say it with us: "French automobile." Chances are your mind just drifted to images of cheeky - if not quirky - small cars. The new third-generation Renault Twingo, which debuts in early March at the 2014 Geneva auto show, certainly abides by that stereotype save for one pesky fact: it was developed in concert mit ze Germans.

If that collaboration was supposed to be a secret, it was a very poorly kept one. When Renault and Nissan forged a partnership with Daimler AG in 2010, one of the few joint projects disclosed was a new subcompact car platform that would underpin both the next-generation Smart ForTwo and ForFour, along with a third-generation Twingo.

That conjoined lineage helps explain at least one major change on the new Renault Twingo. For the first time in 22 years, the Twingo's engine isn't driving the front wheels. Nor is it located ahead of the passenger cabin. Instead, the new Renault Twingo places its engine - rumored to be a small three-cylinder - aft of the passenger cabin, where it powers the rear wheels.

Daimler may have influenced what's beneath the surface, but the new Renault Twingo's form appears to have been entirely fabriqué en France. In fact, the car appears to be the spitting image of both the Renault Twin'Z and the Twin'Run concepts shown late last year. The snub nose is decorated with rotund headlamps integrated into a narrow grille, and accented with round LED running lamps. A chamfered character line helps prevent the Twingo from looking too plump, and also echoes the chunky flares of the hallowed Renault 5 Turbo - a vehicle that also inspired the shape of the Twingo's hatch and rear fascia. We can only hope a proper performance model, perhaps branded under Renault's revived Gordini or Alpine nameplates, is waiting in the wings.

Firm details on the new Renault Twingo are fleeting, at best. Renault boasts about impressive interior space despite the car's miniscule dimensions, along with the ability to personalize the car's appearance through color, trim, and detail options - not surprising, considering similar options are found on the likes of the Fiat 500, MINI Cooper, and Opel Adam. Expect more details to emerge closer to the eve of the 2014 Geneva auto show, but like the Smart ForFour itself, don't expect the Renault Twingo to travel stateside anytime soon.