Test Car – Renault Twizy

I last drove the Twizy on a very hot day in Ibiza and said at the time that this was the perfect place to drive one. I also said it would be a different experience on a cold, wet winter’s day in Huddersfield, but I didn’t have to wait until winter, as June was pretty close to November and December in terms of bad weather.

Renault TwizyThe Twizy arrived in the back of a Renault van on a rainy day at the end of June and I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to use it. Fortunately, the test car came with the optional doors – which cost £455 – but it had no windows. The Twizy has gull wing doors that lift up very easily, although you do have to be careful when opening them in a garage, as they can touch the roof and possibly do some damage.

The list of things the Twizy doesn’t have as standard is longer than the things it does. In addition to not having doors and windows, it also doesn’t have a heater, carpets, a boot, an engine, a gearbox, an exhaust, cup holders or power-steering. So, is the Twizy a car, a motorbike or a four wheel scooter? It’s officially classed as a Quadracycle, so it doesn’t have to have type approval or homologation. Do you sit in it or on it? This is questionable. It has two seats, with the passenger sitting in a very tight space directly behind the driver and it’s very difficult to get in and out of the back, unless you are under four feet tall.

Renault TwizyThe Twizy runs on an electric motor that is powered by a Lithium-Ion battery located under the seats. It has a top speed of 50mph (if the wind is behind you), but realistically it will get up to around 45mph. It takes around 4-5 hours to reach full charge from empty and this give you a range of around 37 miles, which isn’t enough for me to get from home to the office in Leeds and back. Also, with the office being four storeys up, it’s impossible to charge the car, and despite it being so small, it still wouldn’t fit in the lift. The car can be charged using any three pin household plug, but the wire is fairly short so you need to park it almost alongside the plug. I charged it from my garage plug and had to park the car half way in to ensure the lead would reach.

The list of things the Twizy doesn’t have as standard is longer than the things it does.

During the few days we had the car it was rarely dry and thought I would get soaked every time I went out in it, but somehow – and I don’t know how the designers and engineers have managed it – hardly any rain came into the car. I went on the M62 and was regularly overtaken by 40 tonne trucks that were throwing plenty of spray around, but none came in through the gap where the windows should be, which was quite unbelievable really! Even when you park it in torrential rain, the water does come in, but it doesn’t get onto the seats; these are kept perfectly dry, however, water does get onto the floor, but this does disappear quite rapidly through drainage holes.

Renault TwizyAnyone thinking about buying a Twizy has to prepare themselves for the looks, the pointing and the many, many laughs it creates. Everywhere I went everybody just stared at it and the amount of people that kept on gathering around it in Morrison’s car park became a bit embarrassing. However, it was the fact that people just laughed out loud and didn’t consider my feelings – at one stage during the week I considered changing my name to Peter Kay, as I got more open laughter than he does; it really was embarrassing. You have to have a thick skin to drive one – not to keep warm, but just to keep you from crying.

On the road it feels as solid as a rock and has superb handling. The steering and brakes are brilliant, and it’s a pleasure to drive. It’s great fun to drive, if only people wouldn’t laugh! I took a friend out in it and they said they wouldn’t want to travel so far in the back. I said they wouldn’t have to as it would only travel a maximum of 37 miles before we had to push it home, as there is no tow hook at the front. The Renault Twizy starts from £6,690, with a monthly charge of £45 to rent the battery. It’s not exactly cheap motoring, but it’s certainly very different.