Used for commuting or short trips, the Twizy is great to drive and will cost virtually nothing to run. But a lack of space, a firm ride and love it or hate it styling are drawbacks. Factor in battery rental of £45 a month (or £1,620 over three years) and it’s expensive – especially next to the petrol-powered VW up!, which costs from as little as £7,995.
The Renault Twizy
has split opinion with its stripped-back interior and pod-like styling, but one thing’s for sure: it’s unique. So far, we’ve only driven it on smooth tarmac in Ibiza, but now it’s time for its real test – on potholed city roads in the UK.
Our test car is a top-spec Technic model, which adds ‘luxuries’ such as 13-inch alloys and carbon-look plastic on the roof and dash. The scissor doors are an extra £545, but are a must- have option for keeping your feet dry. Whichever way you look at it, this is a back-to-basics machine.
Video: Watch our video of the Renault Twizy
As there are no windows, a jacket and gloves are advised when the sun’s not shining, but the windscreen and roof will keep you dry in the rain. The rear passenger sits pillion-style with their legs wrapped snugly around the driver, while the central driving position and narrow track mean the Twizy feels more like a moped to drive than a car.
Although there’s only 17bhp available, the surge away from the lights from 0-30mph is strong enough to stay with the traffic. A top speed of 50mph is plenty if you only drive it around town, as Renault intended.
Batteries stashed under the floor for a low centre of gravity and steering that’s uncorrupted by electrical assistance mean the Twizy is huge fun to drive. You can’t shoot up the middle of traffic jams like a scooter, but gaps in city traffic seem to open up to help shave a few minutes off each journey.
The first time you hit a bump, though, you’d be forgiven for thinking someone had forgotten to fit the suspension. Every scar in the surface sends a thump through the base of your seat.
The pay-off is that the Twizy corners with remarkable poise. If you don’t like attention, this isn’t the car for you. Park it up and within seconds people are swarming all over it with their camera phones, while in traffic jams cab drivers wind down their windows for a chat.
Renault will have to hope this positive feeling towards the Twizy translates into sales, because when you consider you can buy an entry-level VW up! for similar money, the sums don’t really add up.