Dom Joly Getting down with the kids in the Renault Twizy Urban …

4 Май 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Dom Joly Getting down with the kids in the Renault Twizy Urban … отключены
RENAULT Twizy – Electric Car Colour 13kW Auto

Dom Joly: Getting down with the kids in the Renault Twizy Urban

I get it now: a weird car comes along, needing a review, and someone says, “Dom Joly will like that one — get him to do it. He’ll drive anything.” They excelled themselves this time. When the Renault Twizy arrived at my Cotswold home, I thought it might be an April fool . . . in November.

The vehicle had clearly been designed by whichever member of the Grateful Dead had taken the most acid in one sitting. The crazy colour scheme looked like something that George Harrison, still floating on the ceiling after the Sgt Peppers sessions, took one look at and said, “No, man, that’s too much.”

The kids loved it immediately and it was so easy to handle that I was able to give my 12-year-old daughter her first driving lesson (not on the road, obviously — that would be illegal — but on my private racetrack; the one I had built for just such a vehicle).

This is technically a two-person vehicle, as the passenger sits with legs spread-eagled behind the driver. I would recommend that should you purchase this thing, you find yourself a Porg (passenger of restricted growth) to cruise around with, as it’s a tight fit. It would also help if your Porg had a very loud voice or carried an air horn, since the car is totally electric and creepily silent.

This really freaks out pedestrians you zoom past, and several jumped out of the way in shock. If the Porg continually set off the air horn or shouted, “Here we come”, it would give people fair warning.

The Twizy is a lot of fun. I got it up to 52mph, and from the unusual, low central driving position it felt a lot faster. I twizzed around Cotswold lanes, trying to avoid noticing pedestrians howling with laughter at me and pointing (after they had recovered from my stealthy approach).

I managed to do 56 miles on a full battery and got home just before the power died. That was a shame, as I rather longed to push the thing up a stranger’s garden path, knock on the door and demand that they produce an extension lead so that I might charge my Twizy up using their home electricity, and thus they would be doing their bit to spare polar bears the indignity of floating away from the Arctic on a small piece of globally warmed ice.

Electric cars have not done very well in the marketplace, despite some very futuristic films showing us all zooming around in them. For instance, only 1,021 all-electric cars were sold in Britain in the year leading up to October 2011. The figure shrunk to 950 in the year leading up to October 2012.

Compare this with annual sales of 1.77m for conventionally powered vehicles.

The electric-car market is basically a drop in the ocean — a Duracell in the haystack, if you will. So why do manufacturers bother even to make them? I think it’s because, if they actually cracked it, and we had electric vehicles that cost nothing to run and went really fast and were good for the environment and did more than 50 miles before they needed recharging, we’d probably all buy them.

At the moment, however, it still feels as though we’re getting the sort of thing that might have come out of the penny-farthing factory before it cracked making a proper bicycle. If I lived in London I might consider an electric car, as they are cheap, incur no congestion charge and, unlike my beloved Vespa, are practical in our weather.

Anywhere else, though, they are pretty useless as a serious form of transport. The main problem is the range: 50 miles just isn’t enough, and I have never seen anywhere I could charge one outside the capital. Even at the charging point I saw just off Soho Square in central London a hooded gentleman was in the middle of stealing the charging cord as I watched.

So if there’s nowhere to charge them, you get the same feeling as you would while driving if there was a fuel tanker strike and all the petrol stations in your vicinity were closed.

In fact, I saw someone in a Twizy between Burford and Oxford the other day. There is a really annoying single-lane road that is always totally clogged up in rush hour. The authorities did close it all off and spend three years building what we all hoped was a dual carriageway but it turned out to be a pointless and unused cycle lane.

Anyway, I spotted the Twizy driver stuck in the traffic and I could see the panic on her face. She’d not foreseen this and was clearly terrified that the juice was going to run out. I tried to imagine the looks on the faces of the Tesco Express employees when she popped in and asked for a “charge”.

You don’t get electricity with your Clubcard. Also I’m not sure how long-term these vehicles are. As the batteries fade, presumably they get less efficient.

The great thing about this Twizy, though, is that it’s not intended as a serious form of transport. It’s a car that you drive while playing the Monkees; a Mini Moke for the electric age. As such, it has a better chance of succeeding.

I gave it the acid test, which is picking up the kids from school. The parents looked at me in pity, clearly believing that my TV career was in tatters and that I had suffered a shattering nervous breakdown highlighted by my new mode of transport. The kids, however, loved it — all the kids.

I was surrounded by about a hundred of them, who all thought it was the coolest thing they’d ever seen.

I showed them the James Bond-lite doors — an optional extra — that swing upwards. I twizzed around the car park and at least 10 of them demanded that their parents buy one that same day. At a very reasonable £6,690 — plus a £45-a-month battery rental charge — for the basic model it could have been worse for them.

The other great thing about this car is that it’s perfect for short hops in the city. It’s easy to park and you could just about forge your way between two lines of traffic, should you have the cojones. My cojones were feeling distinctly chilly, as the Twizy doesn’t have any windows.

This made for rather a cold ride. The Grateful Dead obviously designed this for California, or maybe the south of France, not the Cotswolds on a freezing day. The storage was also pretty well non-existent — just a tiny cupboard behind the passenger that looked very much like where you might conceal your stash before attempting to cross a state line.

I imagine that the main market for this vehicle is people with large country estates who want to sneak up on their gamekeepers to check they are not breeding 50ft chickens, or former hippies of a certain age whose Citroën 2CV has finally gone to the big bong in the sky and who are looking for a modern replacement. God, it’s fun, though.

My daughter wants one and it’s definitely a thought for when she turns 17. Or 16, in fact. It’s not a car, you see, but a quadricycle, and under new moped licensing laws that come into effect next year, you’ll be able to drive a lower-powered version of the Twizy from that age.


Verdict ★★★☆☆

Freeze for your convictions, hippies.

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