Motoring review: Renault Twizy

Insults, icy weather and DIY doors...

Price: from £6,690
Battery: 6.1kWh lithium-ion
Top speed (mph): 50
0-28mph (seconds): 6.1
Charge time (hours): 3.5
Range (miles): 62

Renault Twizy owners must be a brave bunch. Not only have they put their money where their environmental mouths are by buying an electric city car, but they actually have to face zipping around in it for 12 months of the year.

The Twizy is a two-seater (yes, believe it or not, there is room for a passenger in the back) electric runaround that, once charged off the mains, is designed to pootle along for 60 miles of emissions-free motoring. It's actually almost a year since it first launched, but Renault, rather cleverly, launched it last April… in Ibiza, where the temperature is just a little warmer than the average European city.

Not that I'm blaming Renault – I wouldn't want to try to flog a tiny car with no door in December or January either – but how will it handle the rigours of a British winter?

Thankfully, since it went on sale the Twizy has grown doors and even some plastic windows. Annoyingly for buyers, though, the doors are a £545 option and the windows are a self-assembly addition at £295. Yes, you have to get your Allen keys out and fit them yourself, and they don't even provide a flush finish – there is a gap at the back.

In the rain or snow there is no way to pretend that using the Twizy to get to work or to pop out in the evening is a pleasant experience. Damp doesn't really come close to describing the experience as cold spray lashes the side of the car and your feet turn to blocks of ice. On a cold but dry morning it isn't that bad, though, so much so that you can start to imagine what the joy of zipping around town in one on a summer's evening would feel like. Or, at least, you can for the first five minutes. Soon, things get very nippy and you realise that the doors provide only limited protection from the arctic blasts of wind. Wrapping up in a ski jacket, thermals, thick gloves, woolly hat and scarf is essential if, like me, you want to tackle a seven-mile drive into work. A hot-water bottle might be another sensible precaution.

Renault says the Twizy will cover 60 miles on a full charge and you can even get it up to 50mph (this is a fairly bum-squeaky experience). A range of 40 miles is probably nearer to the truth in winter (cold temperatures reduce the effectiveness of the lithium-ion battery), but it certainly has enough juice for commuting with one or two charges a week.

It's just 1.4m wide and 2.3m long and it can really pull away at the lights, a combination that takes a little getting used to. I often commute to work by bike and on more than one occasion while driving the Twizy I had to stop myself from darting down cycle lanes or cutting corners. That said, it is possible to nip past quite a lot of traffic safely. Be warned, though: you're exposed to the comments, snide remarks, road rage and "witty" observations of other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, too, which also takes some getting used to.

The Twizy is a fun thing, then, with some use for brave commuters, but at nearly £7k plus a monthly rental fee for the battery, it's hard to pin down exactly who will buy one. It doesn't pretend to be the answer to all your automotive and transport problems, but other than early adopters and the odd eccentric you can't help but think it's really suitable only as a third car in a family. At least it's a third car that will get you noticed, though, and I think that's exactly what Twizy buyers will want.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there