From £6,590
Doesn’t promise what it can’t deliver — just simple urban transport that’s as fun as it looks

Our Verdict

Renault Twizy
Renault takes its electric charge to a fully urban audience

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

  • First Drive

    Renault Twizy Colour

    Renault Twizy makes for an entertaining and novel EV, but its impracticalities (especially in Britain) may leave you feeling short changed
  • First Drive

    Renault Twizy EV

    Doesn’t promise what it can’t deliver — just simple urban transport that’s as fun as it looks
15 April 2011

What is it?

Renault’s Twizy isn’t a type of vehicle I’ve driven before – or indeed any of us have driven before. It’s just over two metres long and one wide, has unassisted steering, skinny 125/80 R13 front tyres and 145/80s at the back. And it’s powered by batteries.

The nearest comparison is BMW’s C1 scooter-with-a-roof, but the Twizy has a steering wheel and foot-operated accelerator and brakes. Car drivers will feel at home. I’m strapped in by a combination of a conventional seatbelt and an additional diagonal belt from the other side of the vehicle. There are no doors on these prototypes, but the production cars will be available either with simple beams that open and close, or beams with lower panels to keep spray out.

What’s it like?

Top speed from the 20bhp electric motor is 50mph. That’s enough for a vehicle that’s likely to be used exclusively in towns, as is the claimed range of 60 miles. All-up weight, including batteries, is 450kg. Driven solo, the Twizy’s acceleration feels sprightly, and quicker to the senses than it probably is in physical terms, if only because of the open sides and the directness of all the controls.

The gung-ho Renault test driver we’re following flings his Twizy into the first corner. I do the same, preparing to lean to counteract any two-wheeling. Instead, there’s a fair bit of understeer; with 100kg of batteries under the driver’s backside and barely any weight higher than a couple of feet up, the Twizy swoops around corners.

The track we’re on is super-smooth but the unsprung weight should be low, so ride quality on more challenging surfaces is likely to be good. These really are prototypes with crude plastic panels not properly attached to the Twizy’s frame; there’s a bit of banging and crashing from them that should be gone by the time proper production parts are used.

Should I buy one?

Renault claims it has received four times more interest in the Twizy than it has in its conventional EVs. The beauty of the Twizy, apart from its sense of fun, is that it doesn’t try to be anything other than an urban runabout. There won’t be tales of Twizys running out of juice on motorways because no one will try to use one for over-ambitious journeys.

The Twizy isn’t the only electric car that I’ve enjoyed driving, but it’s the only one I could imagine owning. Just for the fun of it.

Renault Twizy

Price: £7000 plus £45pcm for battery lease; Top speed: 50mph; 0-62mph: na; Range: 60 miles; CO2: 0g/km (tailpipe); Kerb weight: 450kg; Engine: electric motor; Power: 20bhp; Torque: 42lb ft; Gearbox: none

Join the debate

Comments
58

20 April 2011

It looks like it might be a hoot to drive, at least on short journey's. I think the funky styling certainly adds to the appeal and if more manufacturers recognized this, the more popular EVs and hybrids will become. The Prius looks slightly unconventional, if a little frumpy - such a shame it doesn't look sexier, but I don't think that's a Toyota strength. If someone is paying for new technology, they want the world to notice. Here in Australia, where I live, they make a locally - built, hybrid Toyota Camry which looks almost identical to every other Camry, except for a tiny badge. I think this is a huge marketing mistake and, judging by how few I've seen on the road, it's not going to be the success they expected it to be. I think Renault with their Twizy, Zoe etc., are on the right track - make sure that cars with advanced new technology actually look high tech and futuristic. Apple made this apparent years ago - new technology doesn't sell itself, it must be beautiful and exciting to make it truly successful. So, I'm keen to buy a Twizy one day, it'll be great little commuter car for my wife and I, although I'm not quite sure where the dog or the shopping is going to go.

20 April 2011

[quote ou701]I think the funky styling certainly adds to the appeal[/quote]I agree. With the added weight any modern battery pack adds to a car, a design unique to an EV becomes essential, one that reduces the constituent parts of a vehicle to the minimum. Weight will reduce travelling distance, as will cold climates, such as the UK.

That's why I think Renault are on the right path with their ultra-radical designs, and Smart (for example) is not. An EV Smart Crossblade is a better bet for added miles. However, EV design surely must match the most elegant vehicle to gain maximum acceptance, although I could be wrong. Dyson, like master architect Rogers with his inside-out buildings, proves a product made essentially out of plastic can discard streamlining, its inards as its carapace, yet still sell in its thousands.

20 April 2011

Now I am not usually a fan of EV's but this appeals. The projected price is right, the styling is right and the concept is right. It comes across as an iPad of a car - desirable, useful but never something you expect you are going to use for big work.

It is an ideal car to ease people in to the whole EV way of thinking without giving them any false expectations (something I believe the current "conventional" style cars do).

Just one question though, will it be available with some sort of weather gear?

 

 

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

20 April 2011

So side impact protection is...er...not good then!

20 April 2011

What would sell this car is some sort of cheap - any driver insurance plan. If you have teenage kids this would be an almost no cost to run 3rd car. Also small enough to get off street to charge.

20 April 2011

"... like master architect Rogers..."

Somebody who hasn't used Madrid airport - fantastic architecture to look at, but not very practical from a passenger point-of-view.

20 April 2011

Generally positive comments, but I wonder... I suspect most people, if given one to drive to their local shops would feel like an absolute berk. I know I would.

 

 

20 April 2011

[quote PhilM4000]This would be an almost no cost to run 3rd car[/quote]

Industry doubtless feels the need to boost turnover but society ought to be looking for ways to replace conventional cars with smaller cleaner ones not give people an excuse to buy additional ones. That said, I like this and would give it a go if I lived an urban life - although I'd be extremely loathe to leave a car parked in London which didn't have doors. What's to stop oiks vandalising it, worse oiks peeing or puking in it, and tramps from dossing down in it? Other than the smell of pee and puke, obviously.

20 April 2011

I think it is a great idea, but including the monthly lease, it is just too expensive! They really need to sort out this battery business before EV sales can take off.

20 April 2011

[quote Leslie Brook] I suspect most people, if given one to drive to their local shops would feel like an absolute berk. I know I would.[/quote]

To my eyes, it's no worse than a Smart...... Oh! I see what you mean...... lol

 

 

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

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    26 July 2016
    An expensive but entertaining, intriguing and very usable road-going track car whose rarity may eventually underwrite its high price
  • First Drive
    26 July 2016
    French fashion brand Givenchy has come together with DS for a special edition DS 3. Is it now any closer to the class leaders?
  • 2016 Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    26 July 2016
    Plug-in hybrid Q7 promises economy of 156.9mpg and BIK rates of 10%. It’ll take you a while to recoup the £10k premium over a standard Q7, though
  • MG GS Exclusive DCT
    First Drive
    22 July 2016
    MG's crossover in self-shifting, top-spec form has limited appeal at this price
  • Lexus GS450h F Sport
    First Drive
    22 July 2016
    The Lexus GS450h might offer plenty of pace and reasonable running costs on paper, but diesel alternatives make more sense