Technically, it’s not an electric car but a heavy quadricycle. And although this so-called ‘sub-A’ segment of the new car market hasn’t been particularly visible to car industry watchers up until now, it’s expected to be a huge source of growth over the coming years.
Built around a lightweight steel frame wrapped with plastic panels, the Twizy is small – more than a foot shorter even than a Smart Fortwo, and six inches narrower – but it’s also strong and safe, says Renault. It has proper crumple zones front and rear and a four-point seatbelt for the driver, who sits in a central position, with a passenger seat immediately behind.
Directly beneath is a 100kg, 6.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which shuffles current, via a power inverter, to a 17bhp, 42lb ft asynchronous electric induction motor situated just ahead of the rear axle. Drive is by the rear wheels. Weight distribution is 45/55 percent front to rear, according to our scales.
Renault makes a big virtue of the fact that the Twizy has a wheel at each corner, unlike some of the overgrown scooters that it seeks to supplant. Its chassis is made up of MacPherson-style struts front and rear, with stiff anti-roll bars designed to control the body roll that such a tall, narrow car lays itself open to.
Believe it or not, Renault’s in-house performance specialist, Renaultsport, was tasked with tuning that chassis and delivering on a brief for handling that’s fun but also benign enough for particularly inexperienced drivers.