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."
Part moon buggy, part golf cart - as soon as you see a Renault Twizy in the metal, you can't help but smile. It may seem ridiculous, but it's most definitely fun. An innovative electric two-seater 'quadricycle', it seats its occupants in tandem – the passenger behind the driver.
It looks like a prop from a Star Trek movie and its small dimensions make it perfect for nipping around town, as it can go places an ordinary car can’t. Once you embrace its unique take on personal transport, it's enormously enjoyable to drive.
But just by looking at it, it's clear to see why the Twizy isn’t the most comfortable to drive unless the weather is great. There are no proper doors, meaning you might want to get togged out in the same sort of waterproofs that bikers wear. In the rain, it gets very cold and very wet.
Nor is it the most practical. There are only two seats for a start, and there's a small storage space under the rear seat. You’ll not be able to carry much more than you would if you were riding a scooter, which is many ways it the natural alternative to a Twizy.
You can charge it from your home electricity supply using a normal three-pin plug. It takes three-and-a-half hours to fully charge the battery. A full charge gives a range of between 30 and 50 miles, depending on traffic, average speed and your driving style.
Concerns over the cost of battery replacement are allayed through a battery rental scheme. The cost varies depending on the length of the rental agreement and the number of miles covered a year, but you’ll need to budget at least £45 a month.
The Twizy isn't a particularly cheap vehicle to buy. Even in its basic trim, called Urban, it costs almost £7,000, while you’ll need to spend another £700 to buy the better appointed Technic model. The Cargo model – a tiny van that swaps the rear seat for a proper boot – costs a further £200.
The base model is open to the elements on both sides, but you can add scissor doors (for £550) or zip-on windows (£300) to make it feel more conventional. On a sunny day in the city, driving a Twizy is a unique experience, as it feels like a motor scooter with a roof. On other days you might be better off with a Smart Fortwo.
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