Friday, 15 June 2012

2012 Renault Twizy ROAD TEST

When presented with the veritable feast of models to drive and this years SMMT Test Day it would be easy to assume that the most in demand would be the stonkingly fast exotic models but strangely it was Renault’s curious little Twizy.

For those few readers that don’t know what the Twizy is all about it is Renault’s clever solution to urban transportation. It is essentially a two seater electric vehicle – you make your mind up whether you could call it a car – where passengers sit in tandem.

It looks like it’s come straight from the next century with its pod-like shape and tiny wheels that appear to be mounted on stalks.

At its core is a rear mounted 17hp electric motor mated to a 6.1kWh lithium-ion battery located underneath the front seat. Its tiny dimensions result in an impressive 474kg kerb weight. As with all electrified vehicles there are always going to be limitations when it comes to range, the Twizy has a maximum range of 60 miles, depending on your driving style, which research suggests is easily enough for the majority of journeys urbanites undertake.

Charging the Twizy is easier than you might think, it comes with a 3m cable that can be plugged into a conventional household 3 pin socket and takes just 3.5 hours to fully charge, this will cost consumers just £1 (dependant on their electric tariff).

The model we drove did without the optional scissor doors which only added to the experience. Climbing aboard is easy for the driver but not so much for the passenger who is forced to straddle the driver’s seat but once there it’s perfectly ok.

So what’s it like to drive? Well that’s easy – an absolute hoot!

The helpful people at Renault gave us a brief demonstration of how to get the Twizy going which involves turning the ignition key until it bleeps, hit the dash mounted D button then reach down under the steering wheel and release the horizontal handbrake. What’s most strange is the lack of noise bar a gentle whir. Gently press the gas pedal and you eerily begin to move off and thanks to an instant 57Nm of torque quick getaways are easy.

Once moving the Twizy feels much quicker than it is due to your exposure to the elements. Despite this its MacPherson strut arrangement at all 4 corners means that the little thing feels incredibly stable but also very bouncy at the same time. Driving around the teeny Milbrook city course gave us the opportunity to really chuck it around. As you would expect the 145 width tyres have to work hard to maintain grip but there is plenty of fun to be had especially when grip runs out. Then the Twizy is more than happy to slide around but it never feels unsafe. 

A starting price £6,690 is not to be sniffed at; it undercuts cars such as the Smart FourTwo by a large margin. There is however an additional battery rental charge to be added on which depends on the mileage the owner expects to cover. The least you will pay is £48 per month rising to a still very reasonable £67 per month. When you factor in that you will never need to stop at a filling station to pay over £1.30 a litre for fuel the Twizy makes a lot of sense.


We fell in love with the Twizy and we think you will too. It’s a great way to get about if you mostly travel around busy city streets and if you don’t it is the perfect 2nd car. It’s incredibly easy and fun to drive, has a perfectly usable range and costs peanuts to buy and run. Whether us Brits will be put off by the lack of weather protection remains to be seen but we think you are going to start seeing a lot of Twizys zipping around over the new few years.

Words by Rob McSorley
Photos by Mathew Brooks

Price as tested: £6,960 Engine: 13 kW DIN 17hp Electric asynchronous - 0-28mph: 6.1 secs - Maximum Speed: 50mph - Economy: 60 mile range - Emissions: 0g/km (Band A) -VED (12 months): £0 Dimensions: Length 2338mm - Width: 1381mm - Height: 1454mm - Wheelbase: 1686mm
*data from Renault UK

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