If you’re thinking about shelling out on a supercar to turn some heads, forget it. Take my advice, save yourself several hundreds of thousands of pounds and go for a Renault Twizy instead.
It’s causing a blur of activity wherever it goes. What’s remarkable is that all the comments so far have been positive – and that certainly wasn’t the case when I had a Ferrari 458 Spider for the weekend a few weeks ago.
Whether I’m stopped in traffic, climbing out or even standing in its general vicinity, everyone has a question to ask. “How much does it cost?”, “is it electric?” and “how far can it go before running out?” are the most popular, but my favourite was the lady who pulled up alongside me at the lights and asked: “Did you build it yourself?”
For those who don’t know, the Twizy is the quirkiest member of Renault’s electric car family, which also includes the Fluence saloon and ZOE supermini. In fact, because of its tiny dimensions and 450kg kerbweight, it isn’t a car at all; it’s a quadricyle, so sidesteps normal crash regulations. Maybe it’s best to think of the Twizy as a safer alternative to a scooter, rather than a flimsy car.
Electric cars only really make sense for a tiny percentage of the population – which is why sales haven’t lived up to the hype. Luckily, I’m among that small percentage. With our office based in central London, there’s queueing traffic, the congestion charge and parking to deal with – areas in which the Twizy excels.
My commute from South London is a little over six miles, so the 40-mile range is more than enough. A full charge takes just threeand- a-half hours from a normal household socket, although I use the plugs in our underground car park to charge up while I’m working in the office.
My girlfriend might not agree, but I think the motorbike-style two-seater layout is a brilliant piece of packaging, and when you’re travelling alone there’s space for a big bag or two behind you. Two extra cubbies in the top of the dash, one lockable, and a series of stretchy nets dotted around the interior are useful, while the optional Bluetooth streams music or Internet radio from your phone, even if the roof-mounted speakers are a bit weak.
Downsides? Well the suspension feels unnecessarily firm, and when it rains, the lack of windows means the top half of your body gets a soaking. That said, the compromises so far are relatively few. If you spot me around town, don’t forget to come and say hello...
"The Twizy draws more attention than most six-figure supercars. But the ride is too firm, so you have to look out for potholes and speed bumps."
Richard Ingram, Special contributor
"Congratulations to Renault for daring to be different.We need this type of vehicle to change our city traffic, and the appealing aspect of the Twizy is that it’s great fun to drive."
CarsDefineUs via www.autoexpress.co.uk