PARIS -- Renault SA will unveil a redesigned Twingo minicar in September, marking the start of an effort to freshen the brand's styling to revive flagging sales.
The updated Twingo, which will go on sale shortly after being shown at the Frankfurt auto show, is the first test of Renault's new design chief to help sales since he joined the carmaker in late 2009.
The Twingo upgrade is a "quick and dirty" mid-life face-lift rather than an all-new vehicle, Laurens van den Acker, Renault's top designer, said in an interview last week. "We've tried to give the car more personality, so that you feel you're connected with it."
Production of the 4-year-old Twingo in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, dropped 14 percent to 153,599 vehicles in 2010, almost three times the rate of the European auto market's overall decline.
The new Twingo is limited to upgrades of the front and rear end, "because the investments are otherwise too high," van den Acker said. "I think it came out all right."
The 45-year-old design chief, who joined the carmaker from Mazda Motor Corp., said he has finalized the design for the next-generation Clio subcompact, his first complete overhaul of a Renault model. The vehicle, which will be premiered next year, has more "muscular" lines, he said, adding that the model will be unveiled ahead of the 2012 Paris Motor Show.
Renault's share of the western European market declined to 8.4 percent last year from 10.7 percent in 2002.