Not the best driving day for a Renault Twizy Trip but it had to be done.
I have always been a fan, I have driven the Twizy before, once on the track at Silverstone and once on the closed roads at the Millbrook proving ground. Never, on the open road, never in the rain, and not following the worst floods the country has seen in decades. I was glad to see flooding wasn’t an issue along the Tetbury roads nearby today. Not a good idea with this small electric car.
I was attending a Renault Driving day in the Cotswolds, sampling the latest delights of the 2014 Renault Range, including the Latest Hottest Mégane Renaultsport 265 (Good), the Renault ZOE (always a fan), the Dacia Logan MPV (Bad but well-priced) and the Mégane Sport Tourer (not too bad at all).
Three Twizy, ‘Twizzies’ or “Twizii’ were available in various cool liveries. The weather far from ideal, very miserable and raining hard. Each Twizy was equipped for our wonderful winter weather with the luxury of Renault extras, things like doors and windows, don’t ask the price or why don’t they fit a bit better.
The Twizy is a very curious electric car, a personal mobility vehicle. I see more and more of them becoming available around the country. Twizy trips are now available in the New Forest. The Twizy with absolutely ‘zilch’ emissions and cheap to run, does make sense for some with limited driving needs. It may have been a better solution had it had a small engine, but that would defeat the point of these clever PMVs. With an electric range of around 45 miles and three hours to charge. Lean and Clean.
Just a two seat car, one in the front and one in the rather snug back. To get aboard the vehicle with the all weather protection you have to reach in through the zipped door/window combo, as there are no outside door handles. It is easy enough to get in the front and once you get used to the hard seat, it is relatively comfortable, relative to sitting on a log or something. Instruments and steering wheel are very car like, although you do have the feeling of being more ‘on’ than ‘in’. The car does have car size mirrors, windscreen wipers and lights. It is not equipped with a heater or too many other luxuries, so shorter, drier, trips on ultra smooth roads are best. Did I mention also with no speed bumps, large puddles, kerbs.
To start the Twizy, just turn the key for the power and then put your foot on the brake, press the drive rocker switch. Forward, neutral or backwards is easily selected and in silence you pull away, it does’t move until you release the large hand operated parking brake. I was a little nervous heading from the oasis of the luxury Hotel the event was at. Heading out onto the fairly speedy B-Road about miles from Tetbury. My mind was telling me I will sit with a great queue of traffic behind, not fun in the rain and not fun with lorries behind me and the rattly shaking doors of the Twizy. Clearly the doors weren’t the best insulation from the cold and wet weather, but being in the front was the better place, rear passengers would be far worse off.
The car has a top speed of around 50mph, It was quite a surprise that as I hit around 45mph in the car, I actually was travelling around the same speed as the vans, buses, lorries, tractors, yes you feel a bit vulnerable, but not quite as open to the elements as a motorbike. Renault have built this car with crumple zones and it is construted like a real car.
On the road it massively noisier than you think. most electric cars are pretty peaceful ‘affairs’, you do have to love them. Quiet electric motors with a whirrrr you are off, not the Twizy. You are right there, above the 13kW motor, the short travel of the suspension doesn’t really help, it is very solid in feeling. The addition of the doors added to the noise, in a warm climate this could be blissful. Cornering is fairly good and braking is assured. The harder you press the slower it goes, like a real car. Speed felt adequate, going too fast would only be more scary. The car has been set up so you can really only drive it safely. This is a car that in some European countries, I believe you can drive without a licence, hence the limited speed and all-round safety features.
Finally after a good blast along the local roads, wipers whirring away, I reached the lovely historical small town of Tetbury, Gloucestershire. With over 1300 years of history, Tetbury is a small town made famous by the Cotswolds Wool Trade. A very pretty high street and a lovely conservation area with many beautiful buildings, with quant shops and restaurants. The iconic market house is a notable building in the middle of town. I meandered around in the electric car, looking for somewhere to park. Some strange glances came from shoppers on the high street. In a way you do feel a bit like being on an all weather kind of motability scooter, off the pavement. This Twizy was sporting a cool looking Caterham racing livery, for those in the know, it made me feel better.
So would I buy one, I know I want one, I have spotted a few on eBay at good prices. The Twizy is a useable car albeit a bit strange, it does have a place, I actually could use one for well selected local trips regularly, It was fun, it was cold, but it was fun. In the right place and the right weather it would only be more fun. Personal Mobility Vehicles will one day be here to stay and I will be there, roll on Twizy.
Base Prices: Renault Twizy TECHNIC – £7290, Renault Twizy URBAN – £6590, Renault Twizy COLOUR – £6645. Battery Rental costs are from £45- £67 per month dependent on mileage.
On the road price of car tested £8505 inc options below:
Doors – scissor doors with clear base £545
Parrot hands free phone kit £290
Storage nets £75
Clear sky roof (UV Filter) £195
Rear storage bag £85
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