Renault Twizy Review

Find out more about the Renault Twizy in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • Quirky looks
  • Great city car
  • No emissions

Cons

  • Harsh ride
  • Just two seats
  • Small battery
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model Review

The Renault Twizy is probably the quirkiest electric car on sale, but there’s just one problem – it’s not classed as a car, rather a ‘heavy quadricycle’.

This means that drivers aged 16 can get behind the wheel, although it only has two seats – and you even have to pay extra if you want it with doors or windows!

First shown as a concept car back in 2009, Renault announced that it would start taking orders for it from May 2011 – with customer deliveries beginning in the UK the following year.

Latest model

The Twizy is still futuristic to look at, even six years after it first went on sale. Since it was launched, customers now have the option to purchase to windows. It sounds odd but to begin with, it was window-less, and only once an aftermarket firm got involved selling them did Renault consider adding them as an option.

It is also available as a commercial vehicle, albeit a small one. The Twizy Cargo was first announced in October 2013, with the rear seat removed to make way for a cargo box, that has a max volume of 180 litres and is able to hold 75kg.

Value for money

A feature with the Twizy – that you don’t have to consider with other electric cars – is that you have the pay the price for the batteries. On top of the price of the Twizy – you have to pay between £45 and £67 for the hire of the battery each month – depending on the contract length and the number of miles covered. It is a flexible service, though, and can be changed throughout the length of your agreement if your needs change for whatever reason.

The Twizy starts at £6,995, which gets you very little. You get 13-inch steel wheels, a heated windscreen, a black interior, a three-metre charging cable and very little else.

On the used market, used values appear to fluctuate regularly. On one hand you have a 2012 Technic model for sale with 18,000 miles for £5,000, and then you also have a brand new Cargo model for sale with delivery miles for £4,995. Because of the car’s rarity in the UK, though, it is quite hard to gauge values, but overall, they have been seen to hold their value quite well.

Looks and image

The Twizy is one of the quirkiest cars there is in the UK today. It grabs attention like few other cars can, and unsurprisingly, has been a hit with marketing firms eager to get their brands noticed.

Despite the Twizy’s top-heavy stance, it actually handles remarkably well, even at speed. This has a lot to do with the extremely firm suspension that, while limiting body roll has a detrimental effect on the ride which is not far away from being atrocious. It crashes over bumps and potholes – so you end up swerving around them dangerously to make the ride acceptable.

On the plus side if you stay on smooth roads, the ride is fine and the steering is responsive and inspires confidence, too.

Inside, the finish is very much designed to last. For a car that is this exposed to the elements, the finish needed to be one that wouldn’t be destroyed straight away, which means an absence of creature comforts and, instead, a focus on weather-proof materials.

Space and practicality

If there is a category that Renault wishes we would miss, it would be this. While the Twizy is technically a two-seater – the passenger being sat directly behind the driver – you need to be incredibly flexible to be able to squeeze comfortably in the back.

The fact that both windows and doors are both an optional extra on the Twizy also gives an indication to its practicality – or lack there of. It’s not really a car - as it’s formally labelled as a quadricycle - meaning it isn’t really that much safer than a scooter, with only doors (if you choose them) and four wheels providing extra security. You can specify doors, and flimsy plastic windows if you want to stay out of the elements for a bit longer, though.

Handily, though, the interior does have lots of useful storage space helping to increase versatility. There isn’t really a boot to speak of though, only a 31-litre storage space under the rear seat that may be able to hold a bag. It’s not very safe at all, though.

If storage is what you are looking for, the Cargo model is definitely the one for you. It trades the rear passenger seat for a 180-litre boot that can hold up to 75kg.

On the safety front, because the Twizy is classed as a quadricycle, it does not need to comply to minimum safety standards in the same way that a standard car does. It has been tested by EuroNCAP, and came out top of the four quadricycles tested, but it still disappoints in this section. It has a driver’s airbag, though, which is something.

Power and range

Because of the Twizy’s miniature size, it has small batteries and an electric motor. The motor produces 17bhp and 57Nm of torque, meaning it is quite nippy around town. It is however limited by its top speed of 50mph, meaning that it doesn’t have a 0-60mph time.

As for the range, Renault claims it has a quoted 62 miles of charge – more realistically it has a range of around 43 miles. But it does require far less time to charge up than other EVs do because of its size – taking three-and-a-half hours to charge using a domestic power socket.

Running costs

As with any electric car, its running costs are far cheaper than a petrol or diesel alternative.

You won’t have to pay road tax or congestion charges, and you will only have to pay a minimal amount to charge up, too. While the Twizy might seem expensive to purchase – compared to a Dacia Sandero, for example – you will soon recoup these costs with money you save elsewhere.

However, unlike other electric cars, the Twizy does not qualify for the government’s electric car grant because it is not classified as a car.

As for insurance, the Twizy is rather expensive. It is grouped between 10 and 11 depending on the version, which is even higher than the last-generation Nissan Leaf was to insure.

Things to look out for

Because of the battery leasing scheme on the Twizy, it means that maintenance should be minimal.

Furthermore, electric cars typically have fewer moving parts than their petrol and diesel counterparts, as there is less to go wrong. Adding to this, because the Twizy is quite basic and has very little in the way of equipment, it means there isn’t too much that could actually break on it.  Because of the Twizy’s relative rarity, though, it’s hard to gauge if any problems have arisen with it. You do have the added confidence of Renault’s four-year warranty, which includes breakdown assistance during the full period, too.

Rivals

This is a tricky one, because really the Twizy has the market to itself. There are no other cars that even remotely similar, so for vehicles at a similar price, you would be looking at the used market. A used Nissan Leaf would make a fantastic choice, as it too has zero emissions but is far more practical than the Twizy. You can pick a 2014 model up with around 30,000 miles for £6,000. Alternatively, there is the Renault Zoe, and you can find a low-mileage 2014 example on the market for just over £5,000.

If you don’t want a conventional car, you could even look to a scooter, that still has two seats. There is the Piaggio MP3 scooter that has the added bonus of having two front wheels for extra stability. A new model of these can be picked for £6,499 – similar to the price of a new Twizy.

Which Twizy to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

13kW Expression 6kWh 2dr Auto

Most MPG

13kW Expression 6kWh 2dr Auto

Fastest Model (0-60)

13kW Expression 6kWh 2dr Auto

Trims Explained

There are three trim levels are available on the Twizy – Expression, Dynamique and Cargo.

Expression

As standard you get 13-inch alloy wheels with snowflake wheel covers, a dark grey interior, a three-metre charging cable that fits into a domestic socket, a heated windscreen and a lockable glovebox.

The entry-level Expression model starts from £6,995.

Dynamique

Next in the line-up is the Twizy Dynamique. On top of the Expression you get front and rear floor mats, a choice of 14 colours, 13-inch alloy wheels that are painted in the same colour as the car and Technic upholstery.

Pricing starts from £7,795.

Cargo

At the top of the range is the Twizy Cargo, which costs £7,995.

It is no different from the Expression other than the fact the rear seat is removed to make way for a cargo space.

Summary

  1. Quirky design
  2. Not really a car
  3. You pay extra for doors and windows
  4. Nippy city car
  5. No emissions
  6. Expensive for what it is
  7. Poorly-equipped
  8. Not very safe
  9. You also have to pay a compulsory monthly fee for the battery rental
  10. Available as a van-style ‘Cargo’ model

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