Monday, September 7, 2009

Twingo Quote

One of my favourite quotes, in French, is:
"Ce n'est pas en tappant plus fort à coté d'un clou qu'on l'enfonce."

I keep scratching my head for an equally efficient & punchy translation in English, but keep failing.
The best I can manage is:
"If you are not hitting the nail on the head, there is no point in striking harder".
It's not as good as the original.

The quote is by Yves Dubreuil, then head of the first Twingo project at Renault.
During my time at GM, I could have sent that message back up the communication channels every day.

The Twingo (original version) was produced from 1992 to 2007 and has been consistently & deservedly popular, at least in France & its selected marketing regions.
It was a smart attempt at a low-cost vehicle, being small, light, & simple, but also drastically avoiding options & variants.
All were 2-door (+ hatchback) 1.2-litre models.
There were never even any right-hand-drive versions, which explains the sad absence from the UK market, for which it would otherwise have been well suited.

Aimed primarily at young females (I suppose) it was overwhelmingly cute.
Sometimes insulted as a "jelly-bean", the styling was anti-macho un-aggressive, with a one-box layout, steeply sloping screen & baby-animal-eyes headlamps.
Practically, this resulted in really remarkable space efficiency (ratio of size inside to size outside) and feeling of spaciousness, together with huge glass area, low belt-line & outstanding all-round visibility.
Helped by sensibly small wheels.
As far as I know, it was the originator of sliding rear seats, so that the deliberately little space there could at least be optimised for the prevailing passenger/luggage ratio.

On the down-side, from my point of view (but I am not young or female) they completely failed with their interior & exterior colour schemes and wheel trims.
Especially at first.
The early non-metallic paints were ugly flattish yellow, red, blue & green & looked like cheap polythene toys.
Fortunately, they gradually added better paints over the years.
The interior was deliberately "Fisher-Price" with big coloured plastic knobs & controls.
Well – I see the point, but would much prefer something less cheap-looking, at least the colours.

I think that, if they had added models with good metallic paint, better trim & smart wheels, right at the start, they could have captured what became the (new) Mini / Fiat 500 market.
Later on, with the Initiale model in 1998, they did all of that, but too little, too late – the cheap image had stuck for good.

No doubt the new 2007 model is a better car, especially in safety & durability, but it has completely lost the special charm of the original.

Parting thot: "Ce n'est pas en tappant plus fort à coté d'un clou qu'on l'enfonce." - Yves Dubreuil

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