First Drive 2012 Renault Twizy [Review] New and Used Car Reviews …

25 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи First Drive 2012 Renault Twizy [Review] New and Used Car Reviews … отключены
RENAULT Twizy Electric Cars

First Drive: 2012 Renault Twizy [Review]

In the hierarchy of green transportation, hybrid cars are often seen as a temporary stopgap on the way to full-electric cars. France’s Renault has skipped the hybrid step altogether and it has gone straight to electric cars, launching four EVs over the last year, the smallest of which is the diminutive Twizy.

According to European Union regulators, it is a motorized quadricycle, which puts it in a legal pickle that lies somewhere in between a scooter and a car.

The Twizy range starts at €6,990 (about $8,800) for an entry-level model and tops out at €8,490 ($10,700). Some will inevitably point out that it is possible to buy a late-model used car for that price, but Renault’s pint-sized EV is aimed at a different clientele. Those in the market for a Twizy are more likely to compare it to the funky Piaggio MP3 three-wheel scooter than to a last-generation Volkswagen Golf, and in that regard the price is spot on.

As is the case with other electric Renaults, Twizy’s price does not include the battery, which has to be rented on a per-month basis from a Renault dealer. How much rent costs depends on the length of the contract and the annual mileage but the average rate is about €50 per month, which converts to $63.

Renault offers two different variants of the Twizy. The entry-level Twizy 45 can be driven by anyone over 16 that holds a scooter license but its top speed is electronically limited to just 27 mph. This variant is not sold throughout all of Europe.

Simply called Twizy, the more powerful variant can reach a more useful top speed of 50 mph. Renault claims that it has a range of approximately 60 miles and that it takes three and a half hours to fully recharge on a European-spec 220-volt domestic socket.

The Twizy’s rear-mounted electric motor puts out the equivalent of 17 horsepower and 42 lb-ft. of torque. It gets electricity from a lithium-ion battery that is mounted underneath the passenger compartment floor.

Measuring 92 inches long, 57 inches high and just 46 inches wide, the Twizy is smaller than the diminutive smart fortwo. It weighs just 1,042 lbs. which again puts it closer to the world of scooters.

The Twizy is undeniably the most basic form of motorized four-wheel transportation available in Europe. It can accommodate two people sitting one behind the other, though the rear seat is a little hard to get in and out of because the front seat doesn’t tilt forward. Both passengers have a seatbelt and the driver benefits from an airbag that is located inside the steering wheel.

Plastic scissor doors can be ordered at an extra cost, but the Twizy cannot be fitted with windows, meaning that its interior is constantly exposed to nature’s elements. The cockpit is very basic: it has no rearview mirror, no ashtray and no radio, though buyers can opt for a USB port and a Bluetooth connectivity system.

A lockable compartment that acts as a trunk is neatly hidden away behind the rear seatback. Two storage bins are found on either side of the dashboard, creating what amounts to a little over a cubic foot of storage.

Vital information such as the Twizy’s speed and how much juice is left in the battery is displayed on a digital instrument cluster mounted directly behind the steering wheel. The cluster is also home to an economy gauge that tells the driver roughly how fast the motor is using electricity, and when the regenerative braking system is charging the battery.

At the wheel

The Twizy fires up in complete silence so a green GO light situated next to the speedometer illuminates when the vehicle is ready to be driven.

The single-gear transmission is controlled via a switch panel mounted on the left of the steering wheel. The driver can select drive, neutral and reverse. There is no park option but a handbrake mounted under the dashboard keeps the vehicle from rolling when it is not in gear.

The silence experienced when the Twizy is at a stop slowly fades as it gains momentum. While pedestrians might not hear it coming from far away, at high speeds the driver is treated to a healthy dose of the electric motors’ whine.

With its rigid Renault Sport-designed tubular chassis and its stiff suspension, the Twizy takes corners with virtually no body roll to speak of. The trade off is that the suspension is very hard, which becomes painfully noticeable over speed bumps or over poorly-paved roads.

To keep the Twizy as simple and as light as possible, the steering and the brakes are not assisted. The former is not a problem and the Twizy is easy to maneuver; however, the four tiny disc brakes make stopping briskly from high speeds a hair-raising endeavor.

Leftlane’s bottom line

When Renault axed rear-engined passenger cars from its lineup in the 1970s, it is a safe bet that its engineers did not think the layout would be brought back in this form. Twizy is an innovative, modern and efficient mode of transportation that is well-adapted to every day city driving thanks to its small size.

Its affluent scooter-riding target audience will undoubtedly be delighted with it, sending rival brands scrambling to design a competitor. Until that happens, Renault is one step ahead of the game.

Words and photos by Ronan Glon.

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