Renault Twizy hatchback
- Zero emissions, so no road tax
- Cheap to run
- Nippy and compact
- No cabin heater
- Very stiff suspension
- Relatively short driving range
"The electric Renault Twizy city car offers urban drivers something genuinely different – if you can live with its inherent limitations."
Look at the Renault Twizy as a futuristic urban beach-buggy, a way of having guilt-free electric fun on your way to work, and its appeal is obvious. It exists in the category of ‘electric quadricycle’ and is so unique as to be impossible to review fairly. Existing in a class of one, it is simultaneously the best and worst machine of its type on the market today.
If you look at it as a car, its limitations are obvious. On the plus side, its diminutive size means that parking is a doddle and you start finding spaces between spaces. It's exempt from road tax and the London Congestion Charge and the only fuel it uses comes from your plug socket at home, with a full charge giving a range of between 30 and 50 miles depending on how you drive and if you get stuck in traffic.
The Twizy is also immense fun in a minimalist, raw kind of way, and you do have to be quite adventurous to enjoy it. There are no creature comforts whatsoever: no heater to warm you on cold days and only very limited weather protection. You sit centrally, exposed to the wind and the rain from both sides, unless you spend extra money on doors (£550) or zip-on windows (£300). And even if you do, they only provide partial shelter – although they do afford an extra degree of modesty and a hint of privacy.
It's the likelihood you’ll get wet if it rains that makes it very hard for the Renault Twizy to be seen as a rival for a normal car, and you don’t have to hunt around for other ways in which it's compromised. There's also fact that the Twizy can only carry one passenger, who sits in tandem with the driver in uncomfortably close proximity, while the lockable glove compartment is the only storage space where your luggage is likely to stay dry. Plus, you’re unlikely to exceed 45mph.
A scooter is actually a closer rival and one which beats the Twizy hands-down when it comes to cutting through traffic. It’ll be cheaper, too – a Twizy starts at almost £7,000, and that excludes a monthly charge of at least £45 over three years. That rather negates the advantage of no fuel costs, but at least ensures that you never need to worry about your battery losing performance or failing altogether.
If you’re looking for civilised four-wheeled urban transportation that has to be as small as possible, we’d point you in the direction of the Smart Fortwo, but we doubt that anybody will ever test one against the other. Environmentally-conscious urban businesses might be interested in the Twizy Cargo model, which replaces the rear ‘seat’ with a dedicated luggage area. We can see certainly see this version's worth as an urban promotional vehicle.
However, if you’re reading this, the chances are you want a Renault Twizy, and if you do, we can quite understand why.
The Renault Twizy costs around £1 to charge from a standard three-pin socket
A firm ride and lack of windows mean novelty of a Renault Twizy can quickly wear off
The Renault Twizy is better than a scooter, but you'll be hoping it doesn’t rain
Doors and windows are optional extras on the Renault Twizy
Renault Twizy’s battery lease plan means maintenance costs should be minimal