Renault Twizy 15kW
Renault's innovative new city car gets a proper track test to see if Renaultsport's engineers have managed to combine driving fun with zero-emissions.
The Twizy is hard to pin down. It doesn’t quite bridge the gap between car and motorbike, but is still a fun, innovative solution to city transport, and one of the most usable electric vehicles yet. Renault claims most people are unlikely to fully drain the battery, so recharging should take only around two hours. At roughly £7,000, it’s a tempting, eco-friendly alternative to scooters and micro-cars alike.
It’s Renault’s new city star! We’ve already put the Twizy through its paces on a tight street circuit – but now Auto Express has had the chance to give the electric runabout a much sterner test.
Firstly, it’s important to note that as the Twizy’s UK launch is still nine months away, these early prototypes don’t reflect the level of quality that paying customers can expect. When the production model arrives next March, Renault’s mini-EV will come with a proper set of mounted wing mirrors, while fit and finish will be more robust.
More importantly, there will be a full range of customisation options available, including a variety of stylised colour schemes. We can easily see the EV’s kerbside appeal increasing with a colourful outer shell, 13-inch alloy wheels (similar to those of our model) and a set of motorised scissor doors.
On the move, the Twizy is surprising at first, as it takes considerable effort to navigate tight turns at low speeds. That’s mainly down to the slightly slow, unassisted steering, as you have to apply plenty of lock to get the nose to change direction. This makes the Renault feel like it could be hard work in steady traffic. A fiddly switch makes swapping between the single-speed gearbox’s forward and reverse modes tricky, too. However, the Twizy’s compact dimensions mean it can squeeze through much smaller gaps than you might expect, and park virtually anywhere – including in motorcycle bays.
Pick up the pace and the Twizy feels much happier. Through quick turns, the simplistic steering becomes very direct, and the car offers back-to-basics motoring that’s a lot of fun. Even without doors, buffeting is no worse than in a cabrio – although the optional half-doors are likely to be an essential purchase for most UK buyers.
The Twizy is more practical than a scooter, but only just. There are two medium-sized cubbies in the dashboard, and the rear seat can be flipped over to create a useful 50-litre lock box. Unfortunately, passenger space is extremely tight, and the car would only be comfortable for short trips.
Rival: Toyota iQ It’s nearly as compact, but the tax-exempt iQ provides all-weather protection, more load space and room for two, justifying its £2,000 premium.