Renault Twizy Colour review (2012 onwards) MSN Cars UK

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RENAULT Twizy – Electric Car Colour 13kW Auto

Renault Twizy Colour review (2012 onwards)

Summary

Model: Renault Twizy Colour, £6,950 (£8,445 as tested)

Bodystyle: Tandem quadricycle

Engine: rear mounted 13kW / 17hp electric motor, 42lb ft @ 1-2,100rpm

Transmission: single-speed direct-drive automatic, rear-wheel drive

Performance: 0-28mph (!) 6.1 secs, 50mph top speed


Efficiency: 3.5hr charge time, zero CO2 emissions in motion

Review: Renault Twizy

Find a used Renault Twizy on Auto Trader

What is it?

This could well be the daftest combination of season and test car we’ve ever contemplated – convertibles in winter are fine when the sun shines, but a Renault Twizy in November? That’s surely asking for trouble… Or at least frostbite.

Judging by the startled reaction of the local public during our time with the, erm, vehicle, not everyone is entirely aware that the Twizy is a real product from a mainstream manufacturer. In some cases you’d swear passers-by were gripped with alien invasion fears.

The great big Renault badge on the back generally has a reassuring effect, though, and also almost guarantees this unusual vehicle will be greeted with a certain amount of seriousness by your fellow road users. A G-Wiz this most definitely is not.

Renault

Where does it fit?

Why mention the G-Wiz at all, then? Because the Renault Twizy is also a two-seater electric urban transportation solution. Technically, it’s a quadricycle, rather than a car, which means our European neighbours are able to drive the lower powered version without a full licence.

Presently we only get the higher powered variant in the UK – so you must be legally allowed to drive a car to pilot the Twizy (though this may change next year ). With its tandem two-seater layout, the closest rivals in concept are really motorbikes, though Honda is trialling a similar ‘Micro Commuter’ in Japan.

In terms of price it’s a different matter. An entry-level Twizy costs £6,690. Even without the monthly battery leasing on top that’s £695 more than a basic Sandero supermini from Renault’s own budget brand Dacia.

Our test car was specced up to £8,445 – including the £545 extra you have to pay to get doors.

Is it for you?

That’s right, you don’t even get doors as standard. And if you wanted windows, well, that’ll be a further £295. Ours didn’t have those; they’re new.

Let’s just say if you’re planning to drive a Twizy all year round they might be worth the investment – although the lack of any kind of heater will ironically add condensation issues.

Moving on to the battery situation. In order to maintain performance quality and keep costs down (says Renault), the batteries are not included in the purchase price and have to be leased separately. This starts at £48 a month depending on contract length and mileage.

Complicates selling the Twizy second hand, too.

So, as if it wasn’t already obvious, this is not a conventional choice of vehicle by any means. But – and it’s a big but – if you’re looking for a zero emissions superhero, perhaps for your daily commute, the Twizy has unique appeal. F1 technology and a Renaultsport tuned chassis bring bragging rights as well.

Renault

What does it do well?

First and most fundamental: use the Twizy in the manner intended, and it is genuinely satisfying. Because it’s small and not especially powerful, the batteries are also diminutive, meaning it takes a comparatively short amount of time to charge – even using a regular domestic plug socket.

And while ‘short’ in this instance is still counted in hours rather than minutes, the on-board charging lead and the absence of any need for specialist equipment makes it surprisingly usable on a day-to-day basis. Sure, long distances are out of the question, but for zipping about locally it works a treat.

It isn’t quite narrow enough for “third laning” like a motorbike, but being so small it can find gaps in traffic that just aren’t available to cars. And while not everyone in the office here was a fan of the simple, single-gear driving experience, it’s both nimble and perky enough to cope with everything short of motorway traffic.

What doesn’t it do well?

Clearly, you have to recalibrate your expectations more than a little here. Let’s start with the range. The official claim is 62 miles per charge, though Renault UK reckons 50 is more realistic.

Spice this up with cold weather – batteries don’t like the chill – and climbing some hills, and really you’re talking 40.

This is manageable, however, and you quickly learn to adapt your driving style to maximise the regenerative braking and reduce the impact of ‘hard’ acceleration. Similarly, one of the obvious repercussions of the upright design: the slow steering. You’ll need to turn the wheel more than you expect at first.

RENAULT Twizy – Electric Car Colour 13kW Auto

The ride is also decidedly firm for the same reasons, and the short wheelbase means the Twizy tends to pitch up and down, rather than smooth the bumps out. Arguably this is all part of the charm; the passenger in the back may not agree. Still, with most of the weight low down in the chassis, it never feels unstable.

What is it like to live with?

More recalibration required. Obviously it’ll be tricky to use for a family grocery run, but even popping to the shops with a mate needs planning, as storage space for the spoils is almost entirely limited to the passenger’s lap. Pit stops on the way home from work also give pause, as there’s no way to hide a laptop bag.

There are a couple of small lockable bins, but these are limited to 31 litres at best; the doors offer no security at all. The low sun in winter highlighted – literally – the lack of sun visors, and we found the optional, steering wheel mounted Bluetooth module rather got in the way.

Renault Twizy

For all that, though, the Twizy is perfectly usable for commuting at this time of year once you’ve wrapped up warm and de-iced the inside of the roof. The heated windscreen makes short work of condensation, while having the electric motor over the driven rear wheels means plenty of traction.

Other general notes. You’ll need to think about carrying a cloth – to dry the interior in case of unexpected rainfall. The way the wheel pods stick out mean it isn’t necessarily as narrow as you think it is, and reversing demands care due to limited visibility. The horn is usefully loud, incidentally…

How green is it?

In terms of CO2 emissions in motion, the Twizy is extremely green – as in, being electric, it doesn’t create any. Zero road tax, then. How much CO2 it’s actually responsible for depends on the source of electricity used to charge it, though.

Renewable sources are the greenest choice, but may also be the most expensive.

There are no mpg figures for the same reason, but as a useful estimate Renault believes it will cost about £1 to fully charge a totally flat Twizy battery pack – which is relatively competitive verses a litre, let alone a tank, of unleaded. However, the battery leasing costs complicate this calculation considerably.

Anyone pining for the low-power Euro version should think on this: its electric motor produces just 5hp. Some of us have used chainsaws with more power than that. The current UK high-power version swells with a mighty 17hp by contrast.

We still managed the 50mph max speed on occasion.

Would we buy it?

Putting the alien invasion worriers to one side, the overwhelmingly positive public reaction the Twizy received wherever we went in it – and this includes everyone from school children to teenagers to business suits to senior citizens – suggests there really is a place for this kind of transport solution in modern Britain.

Compared to somewhere like the Costa Del Sol it’s not entirely ideal for our climate, but really it’s no less practical than a motorbike in this regard. And at least with four wheels it can’t fall over and dump you on the floor. Understand its limitations, and the Renault Twizy is a very likeable little thing indeed.

Review: Renault Twizy

Find a used Renault Twizy on Auto Trader

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