City dwellers take note, a new contender has joined the urban run-around market and it’s quite possibly the smallest yet.
The new Renault Twizy is a two-seat electric quadricycle and we got to take it for a quick spin at its Irish launch in Mondello – we weren’t on the track, mind, but on a specially set up course.
The Twizy is quite a space-age looking vehicle, with plastic doors that open upwards with a ‘scissor action’.
I think it’s easier to get your head around it if you think of it as a quad bike with a roof rather than as a car. Renault points out that the heavy quadricycle is more stable and more visible than a scooter or a motorcycle though.
While the body of the Twizy is very sturdy, the doors are quite light and there’s a knack to opening them. The plastic windows on the Irish model are a €300 optional extra.
A two-seater, the passenger sits behind the driver – like on a bike. We found that it comfortably seated two adults of average height.
Inside is surprisingly spacious, with decent room between the driver and the windscreen.
Gear options are limited to drive, reverse and neutral and the Twizy also has a range indicator, drive and speed display and a heated front screen.
The handbrake sits under the steering wheel and both the steering wheel column and the brake are lockable.
Incredibly, the Twizy also fits 31-litres of storage space behind the rear seat and it has two glove compartments, one of which is lockable. Storage can be increased to 50 litres with an optional leisure bag if you’re travelling alone.
The driver’s seat is also adjustable. The upholstery in the Twizy is waterproof – and it would need to be as the quad itself isn’t. It needs holes at the front and rear to prevent the vehicle from fogging up.
Renault said it called upon the expertise of its Sports Technologies team to make sure the driving dynamics, chassis and the operation of the electric powertrain provided the best performance.
The Twizy is an automatic so it’s easy to drive and we found that it handled well on the obstacle course we had to negotiate. Standing just 2.34m long and 1.24m high, it’s also very easy to park.
How it deals with potholes and speed bumps and wet conditions are just some of the real world experiences we’re saving for our longer test drive.
Safety wise, there is a deformable structure at the front which provides protection in the event of a crash, with outboard wheels and lateral beams at either side of the chassis providing side protection.
It also has a driver airbag, front and rear disc brakes and an electronic engine immobiliser. The driver’s seat is of an anti-submarining design, which means that you won’t slide under the belt in the event of a crash.
The Renault Twizy is powered by a 17hp electric motor, with one speed transmission and rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. It has a limited top speed of 80kph and can accelerate from 0-80kph in six seconds.
While it has achieved a New European Driving Cycle combined range of 100km, Renault believes that in normal use, drivers can expect a range of 80km, depending on conditions and driving style.
Just one version of the Renault Twizy is available in Ireland, the Technic trim, which comes with loads of options and accessories, such as windows, blankets and the leisure bag which can be clipped into place on the chassis.
Although there’s no radio, there is a speaker and portable music players can be hooked up via an optional Parrot Bluetooth kit. A Garmin SatNav system is another option.
Rear parking sensors and business-friendly vehicle wraps are also available.
The Renault Twizy comes with a 3m extending spiral cable with an integrated charger stored in the front of the vehicle. It is compatible with any 220V 10A domestic electricity supply and can also be charged at three-pin roadside charging points.
A full charge takes about three and a half hours and costs less than €3.50. The battery hire plan costs from €50/month. This includes breakdown cover if the battery runs flat.
Renault is touting the Twizy as an urban run-around or as a promotional vehicle for businesses and this is certainly one vehicle we’re quite excited about putting through its paces in the city.
The Renault Twizy is available to order from dealerships now, priced from €9,995.