The world is a very congested place. Over population overwhelms the planet as a whole but even in major cities you can see the effects of so many people coexisting in such confined environments. Traffic is probably the most visible example of this and in a bid to combat the amount of cars entering major areas governments the world over are introducing deterrents to get us out of four wheeled personal comfort and onto public transport. Not an enticing proposition by anyones standards, particularly if you are use to all of the creature comforts your modern motor offers. To bypass the never ending attack on motorists by the government you have to think outside of the box. That is exactly what Renault has done with the Twizy.
It’s an unusual looking machine, I will give you that. Sat on an everyday street it does look like a concept car that has got a little bit lost on the way to a motor show. The Twizy isn’t technically a car at all. It is classed as a quadricycle and in tandem with an electric motor sidesteps the vast majority of reasons you would be forced out of your car in a crowded city. It is very small with a length of only 2.3M. This makes it easy to park even in the smallest of spaces that would allude little hatchbacks. It produces zero emissions and so does not have to pay the congestion charge in London. Also thanks to its electric motor running costs are very low even in start/stop traffic. This all sounds great on paper, but what is the Twizzy actually like in the flesh?
Its futuristic design amounts to something that turns a lot of heads with many people asking exactly what it is. Seating two in single file the interior is spartan to say the least. Radio, satellite navigation, climate control and even power steering is absent in a bid so save weight. The doors are a an optional extra at £550! What you get is a waterproof cabin that occupies two with enough storage capacity for a coat. This ultimately rules the Twizy out for everyday trips and in this country, at least, restricts it to a short daily commute. Clearly at this point you can see that the car isn’t for everyone, but what does it offer those who need such a machine?
The cabin actually isn’t too dissimilar in visual appearance to a car. You get a proper steering wheel, digital display for speed and range, normal pedals and everybody gets a seatbelt. Sitting in a central driving position allows for fantastic judgment of where the car is around you. This again makes parking effortless and whilst in motion actually is a contributing factor as to why the Twizy is good fun to drive. The electric motor may only produce 17BHP but thanks to the instant torque that comes with it, acceleration is actually very brisk. I found myself charging from junctions like a scolded cat and chuckling to myself as if possessed. Despite how tall it is, you can really throw the Twizy about. Yes, it does begin to understeer but through little city streets the tiny wheels grip the road nicely and hold it firm as that surge of torque whisks you along. My biggest issue is with the cars ride. Driving on the UK’s rutted roads in the Twizy is like have your teeth extracted whilst on a pogo stick. Cracks in the road result in a physical assault on your body and some potholes you could actually loose the car down. Obviously road noise is a continuous companion and at its top speed of 50MPH, the wind my become a bit tiresome. But then you have to ask yourself, how often do you do 50MPH in a congested city? The answer is never and so in that respect potential city users of this car can ignore that comment. The cars regenerative breaks helps charge the battery on the go to stave off those 3 hour charging sessions. Its battery lives under the passenger seat and will provide the Twizy with a 60 mile range.
So overall what is my opinion of this rather abstract little electric car? As I said, it is more than capable of putting a smile on your face and although not very powerful, the design remits of the car have indeed been met. Yet, the sacrifices that must be made to use such machine on a daily basis are huge. I know Renault are not selling this as a car replacement, but even at £7,000 it is a lot to ask of people who will get to work just as wet as if they had walked. I’m not going to sit here slating the little thing, because secretly I rather like it, but here in the UK where it rains no end and the roads are battered I don’t see it as a viable proposition. In Spain, however, it makes a lot of sense as a hire car. Low running costs, smooth tarmac, and the sunshine beaming through the holes in the side of the car. Sounds perfect.