Sunday, 19 August 2012
Test Drive: Renault Twizy
This morning in Glasgow, the nice folks at Renault gave me a spin in the Twizy - an electric tandem quadricycle aimed at young city dwellers. Since I fit neatly into the target market for such a product, it was a great opportunity to see how Renault's product planners envisage me getting to work in the not-too-distant future.
Now, the Twizy hasn't been particularly well received by us Brits. They've sold about 250 of them since launch in May - which probably isn't surprising considering the motoring press has been overwhelmingly negative about the car.
There is no getting round the obvious impracticality. The basic £7k model does without doors or windows, or even a heater, leaving you perilously exposed to the elements. The battery, however, is charged in 3 hours or so, from a regular 3-pin plug - much like an iPhone or laptop.
I had an absolute ball hurling the thing around the Merchant City - it feels like a real-life version of Mario Kart in this thing. Being electric, full torque is available throughout the power band, hurtling the plastic quad to a faintly terrifying 50 mph top speed - enough to zip between gaps in urban traffic.
Sure the ride is harsh, and since your passenger sits behind you, conversation is a bit tricky. And I'm sure it would have been less exciting in the middle of winter (although, being rear-wheel drive, it's probably equally fun once you've wrapped up in several layers).
The price is probably a bit steep, however the satisfaction of not having to visit a petrol station for the weekly raping leaves me with a warm endearment for the Twizy. The range - 60ish miles on a charge - thankfully allays much out of town driving, where the illusion of fun would disappear with the first artic breathing down on your defenceless Twizy - however is sufficient for a short, fun commute within town.
If I was living in London, or any large city, then I could really see one of these working. After all, properly financed, it must be similar in monthly outgoings or pence-per-mile to rail, Tube or bus multi-ride tickets - and even the Twizy, sans doors and weather protection, is more comfortable than that.