Renault Twizy F1 Driven PistonHeads

22 Фев 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Renault Twizy F1 Driven PistonHeads отключены
RENAULT Twizy Electric Cars


Formula One in fun-size — PH drives Renaultsport’s one-off KERS-equipped Twizy F1

Crumpled inside my jeans pocket is a tiny slip of paper — no bigger than a receipt for your dry cleaning. On it are a series of numbers, to most people meaningless. But there’s one number that stands out.

Quite simply, it says 7.534 seconds.

Seven point five three four seconds. That’s the rather precise time I spent at the wheel of the Twizy Renaultsport F1. OK, so I actually had two drives, but the second number is — thanks to a botched start — slightly higher.

So we’ll gloss over that one.

Renaultsport parts raid has made a mean Twizy

You’ll have read about the crazy Twizy Renaultsport F1 on PH before, so there’s no need to deliver chapter and verse about its credentials. But to recap, it’s a single-seat Twizy that has been given the full Renaultsport treatment. Or at least as much Renaultsport as can be thrown at an electric quadricycle.

The headlines are compelling. A KERS unit derived from Renaultsport’s extensive F1 experience. Michelin slicks ‘borrowed’ from a Formula Renault 2.0 single-seat racing car.

And a proper motorsport steering wheel from a Formula Renault 3.5 racer.

There have been one or two cosmetic upgrades, too. Like the carbon splitter, side-pods and rear wing. There’s also a pair of single-seat style mirrors, a small detail I missed on the press shots. They’re useless, but they look super cool.

As does the rain light that’s — once again — stolen from Renaultsport’s parts bin.

Depending on your viewpoint, this is either a recipe for disaster or a reason to be cheerful. Had any other manufacturer created such a thing, you’d suspect it would end up looking like a small electric car that’s been treated to a Halfords gift card. But with Renaultsport, the project was in safe hands.

It had to be Liquid Yellow, didn’t it?

Moments of madness

Setting eyes on the Twizy Renaultsport F1 for the first time, the initial reaction is to smile. Then burst into laughter. Before settling on absolute glee. As petrolheads, we should be delighted that pointless follies such as this exist.

The world doesn’t need a Twizy F1, but it feels a better place for its existence.

There have been creations like this in the past. The Volvo C30 Polestar immediately springs to mind, as does the Nissan Juke R. And in the case of the Juke R — against all the odds — these moments of madness can actually reach full production.

Like the Juke R, the Twizy F1 was the result of a throwaway conversation — a chat amongst friends and colleagues. Enthusiasts like you and me. But unlike the majority of us, these people can actually make things happen.

Which is why I was able to spend approximately 7.5 seconds driving the thing.

To explain, I got two 100 metre runs in the car — an initial ‘sighter’ dash, followed by a head-to-head with a Renaultsport Megane, piloted by Renault’s tame racing driver, Julien Piquet. Think of him as ‘Le Stig’. Only without a helmet.

Twizy F1 feels pretty swift in isolation.

Flying start

The launch procedure will be familiar to anyone who has ever driven a Twizy, yet so wonderfully different at the same time. In true joie de vivre spirit, I turned down the opportunity to wear a helmet and was buckled up using a typical Renaultsport-yellow seatbelt. There’s no key, just a silver start button, about the size of a 5p piece.

Immediately below that is another, slightly smaller button, but one with the power to unleash much fury. Press this and the KERS unit bursts into life. Like a true F1 car, this is sat directly behind your head, treating your ears to the weirdest symphony ever.

The sound is part electric lawnmower, part Harrier ‘Jump Jet’ and part Dyson vacuum cleaner. But it’s a surprisingly musical accompaniment, perfect for the catapult joyride that’s about to take place.

RENAULT Twizy Electric Cars

Foot on brake, the KERS is engaged by pulling both paddles towards you. Four red LEDs illuminate on the F1 steering wheel — look, but don’t stare, as a certain Mr Brundle might say.

Release the handbrake, take your foot off the brake, keep the KERS engaged and press hard down on the gas. In an instant, all 97 of the Twizy’s electric horsepower are unleashed, and the pint-sized F1 terrier slingshots along the asphalt.

keeping up with a Megane 265 proves it!

You can’t stop yourself from laughing — which only serves to offer up your mouth as a target for the onslaught of stones and debris projected skywards by the Twizy’s super fat and wonderfully exposed slicks. Now I know why they offered a helmet.

But no matter, the act of picking stones from my teeth and eyes only heightens the sense of occasion. Three things will stick in my mind (and teeth) for an awful long time — the noise, the off-the-line pace (read: the full force of KERS) and the stones. It’s an authentic F1 experience in fun size.

Using the word ‘bonkers’ has never felt more apt. My brief runs confirm that the Twizy F1 will indeed accelerate to 62mph in about the same time as the Megane 265. But it’s the sense of theatre that elevates the Twizy F1 to greatness.

In 20 years time we’ll look back on this miniature marvel as a car of its ‘downsized’ time — a natural progression from the Espace F1. It’s a privilege to say I’ve driven it.

Hats off to the small but talented team who made the Twizy F1 happen. Mating a 10,000rpm electric motor to a KERS unit spinning to 36,000rpm is no mean feat — utilising an F1-style reducer mechanism is a neat trick. As is the water-cooling system that keeps the batteries chilled.

Not to mention the small matter of ensuring the Twizy F1 is actually driveable.

The Espace F1, reimagined for 2013.

Electric avenue

What’s next for the Renaultsport team? Could we see more electric dream creations emerging from the Renaultsport stable? When asked about a potential Zoe Renaultsport F1, Guillaume Brotonne, the technical project manager, delivered a knowing smile and a typically Gallic shrug of the shoulders.

We can take that as a ‘maybe’.

The possibility of adding bigger batteries to provide more boost for the Twizy F1 was also discussed. But one thing is for sure — according to Guillame, we’re still five to ten years away from KERS appearing in the kind of affordable performance cars you and I might drive.

RENAULT Twizy Electric Cars
RENAULT Twizy Electric Cars
RENAULT Twizy Electric Cars

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