Some might say it’s innovative, others might say it’s weird, but the new Renault Twizy is a brave move for the French car manufacturer.
It is classed as a quadricycle, which means it won’t qualify for the UK-government grant. This little mobility pod is only £5,995 when it goes on sale at the end of 2011, but is it an over-priced Segway or a cheap alternative to the G-Wizz?
There are to be two versions of the Twizy; the Technic and the Urban. The latter will be stripped of its doors and therefore be exposed to the elements, so investing in a good coat and gloves will be necessary for any UK buyer. The Technic is ever-so slightly more practical as it has doors.
Electric cars that are on sale right now, the Prius or Lexus RX400h for example, are big and bulky, and not in-keeping with the lightweight notion that electric cars in general have. They still need a combustion engine to power them, but for Twizy drivers, the minimal weight means they can go for 62 miles before a recharge from its tiny 4kW motor. That’s plenty of power for getting to and from work or to the shops a few times before a 3.5-hour charge is needed.
What’s more, Renault has been ticking many boxes for all different age groups as of late, with its Renaultsport cars, its MPVs and now the Twizy aimed at teenagers who have just passed their driving test. There will be two different power options, a 4kW (5.4bhp) and a 15kW (20bhp) edition. The former will only reach 28mph, meaning college kids don’t have to resort to buses any more or hairdryer-esk scooters. The more powerful unit will hit 50mph, which is more than enough for city driving. It does seem that the power differences are mainly down to a software map, which no doubt those spotty teenagers will be looking into hacking and making their Twizy faster.
Despite its minuscule size, the Twizy has some baggage space. There is a 50-litre ‘bag’ that goes behind the driver’s seat and a 60-litre cubby space under the seat – more than enough for a few books or a small shopping spree. The interior is made of cheap and cheerful plastic, and it is waterproof, so you can jet wash the inside and out in one go. It’s almost as easy to look after as a push bike.
There is a leather steering wheel, basic controls and a USB point and iPod connector, so you have your own stereo that you can carry around with you. There’s great headroom and legroom, and you can park it in motorcycle parking spaces, although that’s not recommended.
If you’re looking for an alternative electric car that does not have the ‘testing’ looks of the G-Wizz nor is a hefty great beast like the Lexus hybrid range, then the Renault Twizy might be for you. Heck, even some mountain bikes cost more than £6,000!