Alex Kersten
16 May 2012

What is it?

We’re no stranger to the Renault Twizy electric quadracycle (as it’s officially known); we drove the Twizy in £7400 ‘Technic’ guise in March along the comparatively silky tarmac of Spain. This time around we’ve swapped sun and shades for the best of British in our first UK drive of the Twizy, which is on sale now.

‘Weirdly thrilling to drive’ were our words in Spain and in the UK it’s certainly no different. Being positioned centrally in a vehicle far narrower than the average person’s arm span (it’s just 1.4 metres wide and 2.33m long) takes some getting used to, but if you’ve ever piloted a moped, you’ll feel quite at ease.

Of course the main crux of our UK drive centres around how the Twizy rides and handles on our notoriously scarred roads.

What is it like?

Unfortunately, the news isn’t good. While you can literally see the suspension components on the Twizy, you will think that they’ve all but disappeared when on the move. Even the smallest bumps, usually glossed over in your average hatchback, are felt right to the core.

On the plus side, however, you’ll relish being able to navigate around potholes thanks to its small dimensions. Sharp steering inputs return direct steering responses and body roll is non-existent, giving the Twizy excellent stability at speed.

Decent traction in the dry is another plus, despite its narrow, low rolling resistance rubber; the Twizy’s Conti.eContact tyres (145/80 R13) have been specially designed for electric vehicles and seem to be a good pairing.

Push harder through a corner, however, and the Twizy’s firm suspension will wash the EV’s front-end wide. While softer spring rates would alleviate understeer, the risk of rolling the high-sided EV would probably be dramatically increased. Let’s also not forget, that Renault plans to introduce a 28mph-capped Twizy in 2013 for fearless 16-year-olds with no driving licence.

You’ll be pleased with the way the Twizy keeps up with city traffic, though. Acceleration to 30mph is surprisingly swift (around 6.0sec) and more than adequate for town commutes. The Twizy’s unservoed brakes are strong, too, (thanks to discs all round) and don’t require a particularly heavy foot to operate.

But back to Britain; our weather at the best of times is on the miserable side of fair, which is where the Twizy really loses its appeal. No doors (just ‘side blades’, which come as a £545 option) make progress in rain and wind particularly unpleasant. Add the fact that cold weather depletes battery life and the Twizy’s impracticality becomes even more apparent.

Should I buy one?

Yes you should, but only if you can answer the following pre-requisites with a resounding yes; firstly, you’ll need a private driveway for trouble-free charging, a thick skin to keep out the cold, and the desire to get noticed the whole time.

Otherwise the Renault Twizy’s impracticalities – including limited storage, no windows, door locks, heaters or radio – and rock-solid ride, plus the initial cost and  monthly battery leasing (from £40 per month) will leave you feeling short changed.

Nevertheless, everybody should at least spend a day behind the wheel of a Renault Twizy for its sheer novelty and, weather permitting, open-air thrills.

Price: £7690 (+£45pm); Top speed: 50mph; 0-28mph: 6.1sec; Economy: na; CO2: na; Kerb weight: 475kg; Engine type: Electric asynchronous; Installation: Mid, transverse, RWD: Power: 17bhp; Torque; 42lb ft at 2100rpm; Gearbox: none; Battery 6.1kWh lithium-ion: Boot; 31 litres; Wheels: 13-inch steel; Tyres:145/803 R13; Charge time:  3.5 hours

Join the debate

Comments
20

Novelty

1 year 47 weeks ago

Without full doors, I do not fancy sitting in a pool of water when it rains. Novelty value only. There are other quadricycles out there with doors, just seems crazy that this doesn't! Nice if you live in a hot and dry climate, but not for Northern Europe!

trouble is...

1 year 47 weeks ago

Now if they took out all the electric bits made it a much lower single seater. Throw in a 500cc cv transmission. Add proper rain protection.  It might be interesting proposition but as it stands it is another embarassment for the electric brigade.

And lets face it for this money you can actually buy a real car.

-

1 year 47 weeks ago

This 'car' is nothing short of a joke.

Autocar: "Nevertheless,

1 year 47 weeks ago

Autocar: "Nevertheless, everybody should at least spend a day behind the wheel of a Renault Twizy for its sheer novelty and, weather permitting, open-air thrills."

I have booked a test drive of this car on Renault's Z.E. road show.

I am going in with an open mind but I personally can't see how this will be a viable (either financially or practically) proposition for all but a hand full of it's target market.

 

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

I've crossed it one hour ago.

1 year 47 weeks ago

I've crossed it one hour ago. Refreshing, but for who?

 

 

:)

1 year 47 weeks ago

I've seen one and it looks amazing!

I just can't see the point of

1 year 47 weeks ago

I just can't see the point of this car.

If it is to replace a scooter, isn't it a little expensive?

They look fun, but are they

1 year 47 weeks ago

They look fun, but are they quick enough to be fun? 17 bhp for half a ton isnt much.

And if its just for fun, its quite expensive.

I might keep one at my place on the med, except i dont have a place on the Med, and i dont see it working in Yorkshire.

 

Twizy on the way...

1 year 47 weeks ago

I've got a Twizy Urban on order and it's due to arrive next week. I've opted for the optional doors but no other options. I've bought it through my company because 100% of its cost can be offset against tax. It'll be a fun novelty rather than a serious company vehicle. I realise it works out cheaper to buy a year old petrol city car and such a vehicle wouldn't have all the range anxiety issues, but it looks like it will be a great laugh to drive about it.

theadamh1234 wrote: I've

1 year 47 weeks ago

theadamh1234 wrote:

I've seen one and it looks amazing!

 

I too think thtoo look great and will have massive road presence, but the financial and practicality imperfections will harm so many potential sales in the UK. 

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Our Verdict

The Renault Twizy is surprisingly good fun with an endearing character, even though it has obvious flaws

  • First Drive

    Renault Twizy EV Technic

    Weirdly thrilling EV is a fabulous urban solution, despite a very hard ride and monthly contract included. There's nothing else like it.
  • First Drive

    Renault Twizy EV

    Doesn’t promise what it can’t deliver — just simple urban transport that’s as fun as it looks

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