Steve Cropley
27 October 2009

What is it?

This is the real eye-catcher of the Renault electric range, a four-wheeled tandem two-seater barely wider than a scooter and intended to tame Europe’s most traffic-stuffed capitals.

The idea is that you’ll be able to keep moving - and find a parking spot - in (on?) your tiny Twizy, even when more conventional traffic has long since become gridlocked.

What's it like?

Think of the old BMW C1 scooter, lengthen it a bit, widen it by 20cm so there’s room for four small wheels (all independently sprung), then kit it with a 20bhp electric motor (under the passenger’s backside), fed by a lithium ion battery (under your own). Make it look much more handsome and modern; then you’ve just about got it.

There are lots of great details. There are honeycomb matrix displays front and rear that allow you to display the “mood” of the car. The very basic instrumentaion is like nothing you’ve seen before: imagine a yellow plastic flower straight ahead of you, whose petals gradually close as your power runs out.

It’s not fast, the Twizy. Renault has deliberately built it with the performance of a normal 125cc scooter, which means decent acceleration off the mark, but a top speed just under 50mph.

Yet when you’re at the wheel, it feels amazingly comfortable and natural. All the low-set mechanical gubbins give it a very low centre of gravity, so it feels very stable. And the steering is direct and very high-geared. Others may have used handlebars, but this set-up feels very good.

Another virtue is the weather protection. Although Twizy is windowless, you're protected surprisingly well from the elements, especially when you’re on the move.

Whether Twizy makes it or not depends rather a lot on the development of infrastructure. As it stands, it’s just a bit too big to “filter” through traffic like a regular scooter, and charging points are extremely thin on the ground. But with support, it could be the answer.

Should I buy one?

If you live in a capital like Paris or London in 2012, you travel a lot in heavy traffic, and you’re open-minded enough to consider it, you certainly should.

Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but expect to pay less than £5000 for the Twizy when it arrives.

It’ll be a classic choice for early adopters who don’t mind paying a solid price for an unconventional car.

 

Join the debate

Comments
3

Re: Renault Twizy Z.E. Concept

5 years 1 day ago

This looks like a pretty clever solution to urban commuting but sounds expensive at £17-18,000, maybe half that would work. As for the interior layout and controls, it looks surprisingly spacious, having seen pictures of Steve Cropley squeezed into an Aston Martin Rapide (I think it was) and looking really uncomfortable, this looks positively luxurious. As for controls, why do you need more than the basics? This whole range of electric Renaults looks like the most comprehensive and sensible "real-world" than any others I've yet seen. Good job, Renault.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

Re: Renault Twizy Z.E. Concept

5 years 1 day ago

Who comes up with these daft fuel gauges? A flower whose petals close up indeed. Its as daft as having a nodding donkey on the dash, which gets slower as the petrol runs out.

Re: Renault Twizy Z.E. Concept

4 years 51 weeks ago

ordinary bloke wrote:
sounds expensive at £17-18,000, maybe half that would work

the article says "less than £5,000. Who is right?
Please register or login to post a comment.

Our Verdict

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 Technic

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

Driven this week