French car designer Patrick Le Quement’s career was marked by involvement in the radical; he was part of the Ford team that produced the Sierra and ‘aero’ Granada and the rejection of the staid. After two years as VW’s design boss, he left for a job with the greatest possibility of making design statements. In 1988 Le Querment took over as the head of the Renault’s design department. Not surprisingly, his first production car was one of the most radical to come out of Europe in over a decade. The Twingo city was a serious jolt for rival car makers, the majority of whom had become very complacent about the importance of design and the need to produce fresh and exciting ideas. Le Quement revived a previous city project that had been shelved, and saw his opportunity to break away from the conventional. However, he did have to placed directly with Renault’s chairman to get the go ahead, Le Quement claimed that he was put under pressure to normalize the Twingo, by removing details such as the semi circular headlamps.
Early in the project, when the design was being rated at customer clinics, over 40 percent of those questioned actively disliked the car, Le Quement’s now famous reply was the, “the greatest risk was to take no risk at all.” The one box Twingo went on sale replete with wacky design details, including the unusual dashboard with a centrally mounted digital instrument binnacle, and efficient pantograph wiper arm. The Twingo was a massive sales success, and laid the foundations for more radical designer from Le Quement’s studio.