Renault Twizy: Final report
Design professionals cast an eye over our quirky Renault Twizy EV, as we look back on our time with it
Our outlandishly styled Renault Twizy has always attracted plenty of attention on the road, with motorists and pedestrians all straining to get a look at the bold pint-size runaround. So, to give the fashionable electric car a fitting send-off, we thought we’d see what some people from the world of design made of it.
I decided to take the Twizy to Design Bridge – a brand agency that specialises in creating packaging for everything from alcoholic drinks to yoghurt, tea and Dulux paint. Not only do the people working there have an eye for all things design, but many of them also represent the ideal Renault Twizy customer: young, no children and living and working in central London.
Things started well: the 10 people I grabbed from their desks seemed intrigued, excited and a little confused at what they were seeing. One of the guys’ initial reaction was to grab the Twizy’s roof in order to rock it back and forth, which was apparently a test of security. How fast is it? How many people can fit in it? Are those windows? These were just some of the opening questions asked about the car.
Then came the attempts to get two people in the Twizy. Those clambering in the back had to be flexible, but we managed to squeeze the tallest in the group into the cramped rear seat – he even claimed it was comfortable.
In the end, I asked them all to give their verdict with a simple Roman emperor-like thumbs up or down. And the Twizy did well, with eight out of the assembled group of 10 designers deciding to give it the thumbs up.
There were plenty of positive comments on the car, too. One said: “It’s great – a bit of a funny thing, but it looks like a lot of fun. The design is unique.” Another in the thumbs-up camp said: “It looks like a concept car. I can imagine it would be much more economical for scooting to the shops than taking a 4x4.”
On the downside, some pointed out that while the Twizy is built for city commuting, it doesn’t really benefit from its small size. “For me, the Renault is so small and open to the elements that I’d rather ride a bicycle,” said one. “A bike gives you so much more freedom when it comes to parking, security, cycle lanes and taking shortcuts in traffic.”
Yet like the majority of the designers, the Auto Express team has been mostly positive about the Twizy during its time with us. It’s certainly not perfect: the ride is too stiff and bumpy, even at low speeds, and the exposed cabin meant no-one fancied driving it in cold or wet weather. Plus, while there’s room for two, the rear seat is quite claustrophobic.
Another thing that annoyed both us and the designers was the £545 and £295 charged for the doors and windows respectively. Then there’s the asking price. At £7,495, our top-of-the-range Twizy Technic costs only £900 less than a Dacia Sandero Ambience 1.5-litre dCi hatchback. That’s a full-size car that’ll carry five adults plus their luggage for 400 miles on one tank of diesel.
But despite this, the Twizy remains huge fun to drive and always manages to be the centre of attention wherever it goes. If you live and work in a crowded and congested city centre, the Renault offers a quirky alternative to taking public transport or riding a bicycle. Yes, it’s flawed – but the most characterful vehicles always are.
“While the Twizy’s charging costs are small, don’t forget you’ll have to a pay a minimum of £600 for battery rental over 12 months.”Owen Mildenhall, Senior road tester
“The Twizy is something of an experiment and it shows that electric car technology still has some way to go before it can be considered competitive.”David Jefferis, via www.autoexpress.co.uk