Renault Twizy Electric Minicar First Drive Report: Video Page 2

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Renault Twizy first drive, Ibiza

Renault Twizy first drive, Ibiza

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It's also very easy to drive. It starts with a key, has a dash-mounted E-brake, and two simple buttons for drive and reverse. Pressing both together selects neutral. There's no transmission creep, but the accelerator pedal is sensitive enough for accurate maneuvers.

The turning circle is tiny, and you can see all four wheels from the driver's seat. It's short enough to park nose- or tail-in to the curb, and because the doors open Lamborghini-style, you can even park it incredibly close to things and still get out of the car.

We'd heard rumors of an uncomfortably hard ride, but it's certainly no worse than scooter riders will be used to, and no worse than a Smart ForTwo either. One huge benefit of the narrow body is that you can simply avoid most potholes and drain covers without straying from your lane.

Will it drift?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this question pops up frequently when people discover a car is rear-wheel drive.

No, the Twizy won't "drift" as such, but on unpaved roads we found you could make it slide briefly. Thank narrow tires and decent torque from the electric motor for that.

What's the horn like?

LOUD. Surprisingly so, though this might be down to the absence of sound insulation in the car. If you've ever driven in Paris you'll know why a loud horn is necessary. Renault is developing what it calls the "Z.E. Voice", a quieter horn to alert pedestrians without scaring small children and waking the dead.

And storage space?

There isn't a great deal. There are two small compartments in the dashboard, one of which is lockable. There's another behind the rear seat. It's not the most practical space as the opening is small and it's very deep.

Renault will sell a large bag to sit on the rear seat, for groceries and the like, but that does mean it would displace your passenger. The rear seat itself is actually habitable for humans, though entry isn't the most elegant. We recommend persons of the fairer sex avoid shorter skirts to avoid "doing a Lohan".

How much does it cost?

The basic, teenager-friendly Twizy 45 starts at roughly $9,150. An Urban-spec Twizy starts at just over $10,000, rising to $11,100 for the top-spec Technic. The half-doors are a $770 option.

Then there's battery lease costs. These range from $65 a month if you drive no more than 4,660 miles a year over 36 months, to $94 a month for a 12-month, 9,320-mile contract. This price includes comprehensive roadside assistance.

At current European electricity prices, Renault says a full 3.5-hour charge costs around $1.60. To save you the math, that's around $93 in electricity per year, on the aforementioned 4,660-mile lease cost--or from $873 a year all-inclusive, battery lease considered.

The Twizy also avoids various road taxes and congestion charge schemes in place around Europe, making it a very cheap commuting vehicle.

Is it coming to the U.S?

No. There are no plans at this time, so if you want an urban electric car your best bet will be the upcoming third-generation 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive.

Will Renault sell any?

If we knew that, we'd be using our skills to bet on big sports games instead. But if there's one passage that stood out from Renault's presentations, it was when Renault quoted Steve Jobs:

"A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."

Will the Twizy be the equivalent of a wheeled iPod? Time will tell...

Renault provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable High Gear Media to bring you this first-person drive report.


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Comments (16)
  1. Its safe??, have a look to the crash test and cry

  2. I fail to see your point, dear anonymous user. The airbag fires, the safety cell doesn't deform... and I'm not sure I'd wish to see the results of any other quadricycle compared to the Renault.

  3. Body style wise it seems to be a scooter car crossover. And yes with no doors it does seem best suited for sub-tropical climates. I could see the Twizy being used as something you rent from a seaside resort or basic transportation for city going college students. But a scooter would make more sense because two people can ride on one and it takes up less room when parked. Renault is defenatley aiming at a very small niche.

  4. Actually, the Twizy has two seats, one behind the other. As a parent, I've got to admit that I might feel a little happier if my two kids were to drive something like that than a small, underpowered scooter. At least this has seat belts...

  5. Sorry CDspeed, I should have clarified that in the article. Yes, the Twizy is a tandem two-seater. I only mentioned it briefly in the "luggage space" section on page two.

    The rear seat is actually comfortable and spacious enough, but entry is a little inelegant!

  6. No need to say sorry it's my fault for not noticing the second seat.

  7. It is an interesting option on the spectrum of personal mobility. I really don't like the monthly battery lease however.

  8. I like the concept of the lease, but the cost is a little high at some points. I did some math (which I've not shown, to try and keep the article short), comparing Twizy to basic smart fortwo.

    At 4,500 miles a year, even in the UK you'd actually pay no more for gas than you would for battery rental on the Twizy. Double the mileage and the Twizy's battery rental starts to look better value. And of course, the Twizy is cheaper than a smart, if not quite as all-weather.

  9. Why not offer full doors to solve the rain problem?

  10. The trouble with full doors is that it would then necessitate other components like heating/cooling, door seals, window mechanisms and more. It would add weight, cost and complication. While full doors would certainly be useful in some markets (as a UK resident they'd certainly be handy), Renault would have to make significant compromises in other areas to fit them.

  11. Wouldn't a fully enclosed three-wheeled motorcycle be better, cheaper, and more stylish, plus faster and more stable? Since America already has a very large number of three-wheeled motorcycles, they should sell good and even be popular with people who like staying dry in the rain and snow.

  12. It depends how you define more stylish, I guess. Cheaper perhaps, faster debatably (though is 50mph slow for an exclusively-city vehicle?) and as for more stable, I'm not sure how a three-wheeler is more stable than a vehicle with four wheels?

    I'll make it clear here, as I may not have done in the article - the Twizy has zero stability problems. The majority of the weight is very low down, and the front tires are narrow enough that you'll never corner fast enough to cause a Suzuki Samurai-like situation.

  13. Would this be a good alternative to a scooter for those who lack the balance to operate one? I recently went to Tuscany and found towns where a Fiat Panda doesn't fit because they pre-date chariots. (OK small exaggeration, but there's not much space in those old Etruscan towns) This vehicle might do well there.

  14. Apart from excitable little kids, it was other scooter and motorcycle riders who were by far the most interested in the Twizy during the drive. It's certainly a good compromise for those who like the idea of a scooter but don't like the relative lack of safety.

  15. Is there a baby boomer population that have moved away from scooters and motorcycles but miss the freedom and fun? Maybe this would be a hit with them.

  16. It might well catch customers like that. The Twizy is great fun to drive - so much so that I could see people buying it like they might a sports car, or a classic car. Obviously that would negate the environmental advantage of driving it every day, but even without the EV merits and ease of parking, it stands up to scrutiny simply as a fun car to drive.

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