Test Drive: Renault Twizy – Back to basics image

Renault has been producing the Twizy for a couple of years now, in its Valladolid, Spain, facility but spotting one on European roads can turn out to be quite tricky because this is a truly basic ride, mostly, which is coming with some weird options, such as the doors or the windows, amongst others.

When I first entered the Renault Twizy at the company’s Romanian representative, I was kind of surprised, because I was expecting a small and fluffy vehicle, not a one that reminded me of a 40-year old car with basic instruments, so getting used to it turned out to be quite tricky, speaking from the “comfort” chapter at least.

Engine and Transmission

The Renault Twizy has an electric motor underneath it, which is taking its juice from a 6.1 kWh lithium-ion battery. This is feeding the wheels through a single-gear transmission, nothing unusual until now, except the fact that I was afraid to push the throttle hard in order to get it moving considering the fact that I dropped an SL400 hours before and now I was sitting in an underground parking lot with a big concrete wall in front of me and the Renault representative encouraged me to hit the accelerator in order to get it moving.

But this isn’t the only step you have to make to turn the Twizy to life, you have to start by putting the key in the ignition and slightly turn it towards the front until the gauges come to life. Now, turn it a little more and a “beep” tells you that you can now click the “D” button on the left corner of the dashboard, which stands for “Drive”, obviously. You have a manual handbrake on the left side of the lower dashboard, similar to the one of the old Megane, which can turn out to be tricky to lower, if you’re not used to it.

After clicking the “D” button and lowering the handbrake, you’re good to go, but not before pushing that throttle hard, despite you have an obstacle in your way. You will get used to it quite easily after the first time. Now, all you have to do is check out the reactions of other traffic participants when they see you nearby or the unreal questions such as “Is this electronic?”, “No, it’s electric!”.

Renault says that charging the battery will take you just a few hours and this can be done using just about every 220V socket. Charging it from almost 0 percent to 100 percent will cost you approximately 2 euros and this will assure you an autonomy of about 50-60 km in the city an 100 km on a more relaxed road. Achieving the best “fuel consumption” in the Twizy is made by accelerating and breaking rather than keeping the throttle pushed just a bit but this won’t take you long to get used to.

The Ride

Driving the Renault Twizy is more than easily considering the fact that it is extremely small and because of the ingenious way the electric motor and the batteries have been fitted onto it, it is also maneuverable. Keep in mind that the city car doesn’t have any assisted steering or assisted brakes for several considerations, such as the lowered weight and the cheap price.

Interior Design

Speaking about the cabin of the Twizy is basically like speaking on the “cabin” of a motorcycle, or a scooter at least. You have two seats, one in front of the other, the levers for the headlights, signals and windshield wiper, the controls for the automatic transmission and that’s about all. The Twizy has no air vents, no heated seats, no audio system, no soft spots in the cabin so you can rest your elbow on them, no side windows and no doors, but it does have a heated windshield. In fact, Renault is making you pay for having the “luxury” of doors and pay some more for getting the windows too.

The tested car came with doors, if we can call them that way, but they had no windows and on the first evening, there was quite a lot of rain. Needless to say that my sleeves were wet, despite trying to keep them close to my body and I ended up parking it in a garage and taking a taxi for the rest of the evening, so please, Renault, do consider adding doors and windows to temperate continental climate countries, at least, especially if we are in the autumn. According to the Renault representative, the interior design of the Twizy is waterproof, including the dashboard and the seats, so washing it can turn out to be quite easy.

If I ended up with wet arms the rear passenger ended up with a wet face and chest and speaking about the rear passenger, the seating position is quite odd because he will have to push the driver’s seat forward, enter his / her own seat, slide it back and put his / her feet around it. No exactly traveling in style, especially if you want to impress someone with your new ride.

Likes / Dislikes

The fact that the Renault Twizy had almost nothing which we take for granted in our day to day cars is kind of intriguing. I liked the fact that this can only be used mostly on sunny days, that it will take you from A to B without asking too many questions, that you only have two adjustments for your seat, front and backwards or that you simply cannot dare to leave anything expensive in it while you go and drink a coffee. I also liked how it feels on crowded roads, that it is easily to park, to maneuver and to charge but if this is truly the future, than the Twizy is one important step of getting there.

Entry-level (Twizy Urban 45) – 7,000 EUR
Tested car (Twizy Urban 80) 7,700
Tested Vehicle
Renault Twizy Urban 80
Engine: Electric motor
Power: 17 HP (13 kW)
Transmission: Single gear
Dimensions: length 2.32m, width 1,19m, height 1,46m
Weight: 450 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: non-existent – 6.1 kWh lithium-ion battery
Trunk Capacity: non-existent – 100 km (62 miles) total range
Top Speed: 80 km/h

4.3 / 5

Photos by Gabi Gogiu