Just like paddling a lilo across the Atlantic or climbing Mount Everest in a pair of shorts, driving the Renault Twizy on busy A-roads isn’t something we’d normally recommend. So imagine my surprise when Renault assured me that it was legal to take the Twizy on any road we liked – motorways included – despite its 50mph top speed. We had to have a go.
My original plan to get a photo of the Twizy driving up the M1 was scuppered by the 40-mile range – it was unlikely to be enough to get me there and back from our London office. That’s why we chose a stretch of the A40 to put our Twizy’s big-car credentials to the test. And guess what? It wasn’t nearly as scary as you’d think.
Anyone who’s ridden a scooter or a motorbike will testify that being exposed to the elements and other traffic on all sides can make you feel vulnerable. But the Twizy isn’t nearly as open.
OK, so there are no windows (although in my next update I’m planning to put that right), which can lead to wet sleeves when the rain blows in, yet that’s focusing on the negatives.
What you do have is a roof, floor and doors, of sorts, which are reassuring on fast multi-lane roads when you’ve got huge lorries bearing down on you.
As we’ve already reported, the Twizy’s instant acceleration is great fun away from the lights, especially when you leave faster cars trailing in your wake.
But it’s the other end of the spectrum that’s the real surprise – the car cruises along easily at 50mph, maintains its speed on inclines and doesn’t get blown off course by gusts of wind, as its bulky battery is located low in the chassis.
If Renault ever produces a 70mph version with a much longer range, I’ll be first in line to take it for a hot lap of the M25.
Clearly, the Twizy has been designed with short inner-city commutes in mind – which is precisely why it fares so well on my six-mile journey from Clapham Junction to our office in Fitzrovia every day. However, it does have the ability to go beyond its remit if necessary.
Our editor-in-chief, Steve Fowler, lives 22 miles away, just outside the M25, which sounds well within the Twizy’s reach. However, a large stretch of that has a 50mph limit, and this drains the Twizy’s batteries quicker than normal.
Yet he made it home with 21 miles on the clock, charged it overnight, and arrived in the office the next morning with a big grin.
Besides its long-distance ability, the Twizy has revealed another pair of talents in the past few weeks. Can’t find a parking space big enough to accommodate its length? Fear not, as parking head-on to the kerb allows you to squeeze into even tighter gaps.
Then there’s the Twizy’s luggage capacity, or lack of it – but there’s a neat solution. With the doors closed you can place extra bags down the side of the seats. Just make sure you’re holding on to them when you open the doors again.
Living with the Twizy certainly presents a few ticky challenges, but it’s never dull.
“You need to be sociable to drive the Twizy in town. People constantly stare at you, take pictures of you and ask you about the car. It’s fun – but the novelty may wear off after a bit.”
Darren Wilson, Art director
“I fell in love with the Twizy on a test drive, but it was expensive when taking into account battery hire and unbelievably high insurance quotes (I’m in my forties with full no-claims).”
Yorkslad, via www.autoexpress.co.uk