back to article Living with a Renault Twizy: Pah! Bring out the HOVERCRAFT

If you saw the Top Gear where James May drove a Renault Twizy to win a city commuting challenge, you might get the impression that it’s a fun little car. Renault Twizy by Simon Rockman Sensible is NOT the first word that comes to mind when you see this dorky 'leccy little 'un. If you’ve read our review of the Tesla S, you …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


    Wasn't it Richard Hammond who had a whizzo prang due to his carbon fibre velocipede getting stuck in some tram lines?

    Back to this little beast.

    It does seem to be an answer where the question got lost. It is neither one thing nor another.

    Renault probably built it to satisfy some french beaurocrat's tick list.

    On the plus side, seeing it on Top Gear and now reading a review does help us get a better picture of its suitability.

    Probably ok for the commute to Effingham Jcn station and that's it.

    {effingham because that's what you will be doing when you get back on the 20:15 from waterloo and find that some scumbag has nicked it}

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Er?

      Yes, Hammond came a cropper, but May's Twizzy got very uncomfortably jolted driving over tramlines (not much of an issue in London, which is the only place this beast is likely to be seen in the UK).

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Er?

      This would be great at the price which is comparable to a decent motorcycle, but they need monthly payment for battery lease, which starts at £30 per month.

      It would be OK in a congestion zone, avoiding charges would pay that back, but for my commute, I can do for £30 per month in my existing car.

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Wrong location

    Have you tried driving downtown Paris lately? It will not be out of place in-between the thousands (they are like locusts there) Piaggio 3-wheelers. It will also serve the same niche perfectly - a car for a commute which is spent mostly in traffic jams and at traffic lights and/or jostling for position with motorcyclists at the next junction. When chosing between a Piaggio 3 wheeler and this I know exactly what I am going to chose :)

    Ever since the congestion charge was introduced downtown London is a nice and leasurely experience. If you can foot the charge, you do not really need a contraption out of Jupiter Ascending (trailer around 1:23, just looks like the Wachovski has repainted the wheels green ). Paris, Milan, Rome, Barcelona - that is an entirely different ball game and frankly this car will fit straight in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong location

      I work in the middle of Paris, and indeed there is one I often see parked around the office.

      And one thing that was missed in the review: it can park perpendicular to the sidewalk, without encroaching on the street. So basically, you can park two or three of them across a single parking space.

      Very unlamborghini.

    2. Dapprman

      Re: Wrong location

      Totally agree. Seen one here and it looked out of place - seen a few in Rome, and it looked ideal. In fact I seem to remember Renault were pitching them at Mediterranean tourist areas for use as rentals.

      1. Anna Logg

        Re: Wrong location

        Mediterranean tourist areas and er.. Brockenhurst!

    3. Van

      Re: Wrong location

      Spot on.

      The review and many replies here, appear to think the motoring world revolves around the UK for some bizarre reason.

      I've seen these in Milan, where cars were parked up and over curbs in between trees lining the middle of large streets, the Twizzies were parked at the base of the trees, a spot that no other car could use.

      I've also seen them in France used as Hotel errand cars, a chef for example going out to buy last minute supplies from the local Butcher.

      Renault originally stated these were aimed at teenagers who would otherwise look at scooters.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Wrong location

        "The review and many replies here, appear to think the motoring world revolves around the UK for some bizarre reason."

        Maybe because it was reviewed in the UK, for a primarily UK based audience?

        I mean, it's not rocket science...!

        Steven R

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wrong location

        > I've seen these in Milan, [....] the Twizzies were parked at the base of the trees, a spot that no other car could use.

        Not in Milan. In Naples on the other hand...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      > Have you tried driving downtown Paris lately? [....] When chosing between a Piaggio 3 wheeler and this I know exactly what I am going to chose

      Anything that gets you out of Paris in the shortest possible time?

  3. Tommy Pock

    Why would you get one of these

    and not a Carver One?

    If you say 'price' then you are not this toy's target market

    1. Jan 0

      Re: Why would you get one of these?

      That Carver may look nicer, but what happened to the tall, slim, four wheeled, electric leaner that I saw a few years ago? A slim leaning car with four wheels, or at least two at the front, becomes a vehicle with the advantages of both cars and motorcycles, but it needs to be short and tall to be a city vehicle. ("City" as understood outside most of the USA.)

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Why would you get one of these

      What is the target market for that? J. Clarkson?

    3. joed

      Re: Why would you get one of these

      Stability for one thing, though I'd rather have the reversed trike (single wheel in the back). That Twizy would fit nicely next to bikes in my garage and serve all local duties in warmer seasons. 3 wheel is actually preferred for registration, insurance and maneuverability. And price always matters, no matter what anybody said.

  4. TrevorH

    It's KW

    It is of course 3KW and 7KW not 3W and 78W. I think even a tiny electric car might take a few days to charge at 3W...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: It's KW

      >I think even a tiny electric car might take a few days to charge at 3W

      But on the bright side, at least it could use a standard USB charger.

  5. Dave Harvey

    Only 40 years from prototype to production

    This looks almost identical to the prototype "bubble car" that John Noakes drove on Blue Peter some time back in the early 1970s - I think that was French too! Am I the only one old enough to remember that episode?

    1. Pete 47

      Re: Only 40 years from prototype to production

      Or the "Jaffa Orange" car, except it was painted silver, that was French too, quirky isn't the word.

      Made the front of one of the Blue Peter annuals IIRC.

      1. Dapprman

        Re: Only 40 years from prototype to production

        I used to remember seeing that parked up looking tatty in Berkhamstead when visiting a freind there some 10 years ago - think it was actually based on a small CC petrol engine, not electric.

    2. Pookietoo

      Re: Only 40 years from prototype to production

      Eh? Bubble cars were big in the fifties and sixties, mostly from German manufacturers.

  6. Robert E A Harvey

    Good idea, wrong price

    if this was 2500 pounds, it might be useful and even sensible for the elderly in a remote market town, as an add-on to the Skoda Yeti they use for weekly shops. But I can't work out who would buy one at that price, except some metropolitan exhibitionist with more money than sense.

    1. Van

      Re: Good idea, wrong price

      "except some metropolitan exhibitionist with more money than sense."

      Do you realize people spend more than that converting gas cars to electric? There's a great DIY scene for electric conversions, few appear to be exhibitionists or have more money than sense.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good idea, wrong price

      It does seem a lot to pay just to get a roof and doors on a mobility scooter.

    3. David Kelly 2

      Re: Good idea, wrong price

      It would be better if it weighed 2500 pounds? :-)

    4. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Good idea, wrong price

      Indeed. For 1/4 the price you can get a decent second-hand 125cc bike, a reasonable set of leathers, and a full training course and license fees. That gets you 130mpg with a range in the hundreds of miles, top speed of 68mph, legal both for learners and on all roads up to and including motorways (although you're insane if you actually take it on one), and just as much room for passengers and probably actually more for luggage. Usually the downsides of a bike are safety and the weather, but it looks as though the Twizy is at least as bad for both so I really can't see any reason to prefer one over a much cheaper and more useful bike.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a shame they got this so wrong because I think it could have been a moderate success. The lack of decent doors and windows is a show stopper for a good portion of the population of Europe which I'm guessing is /was the target market.

    Saying it's not got space for your weekly shopping is daft, it wasn't designed for that. This "car" is really a bike for people who won't, for whatever reason, cycle to work but think they probably should. They probably won't cycle because they get wet, cold and sweaty so give them some comfort in their car.

    If my commute was 10 miles across town and the price was right I would seriously consider something like this specifically for that one journey. It's seems absurd to me that we drive to work in whacking great car carrying nothing more than a box with sandwiches in it.

    1. Van


      I'm pretty sure if you can squeeze a passenger in the back, you'll get enough food in to survive a week.

  8. James 51 Silver badge

    Eight grand for a glorified electric scooter? Yea. Nice try but in the last week I've seen snow, sleet, rain and gale force winds. Not that practical in places that actually have weather.

    1. Van

      Weather and price

      "Not that practical in places that actually have weather."

      and you compared it to a scooter? Have you seen the price of Golf carts? Why is nobody having a pop at road legal Golf carts that cost 3 times as much?

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: Weather and price

        The reason I compare it to a scooter is that I have seen similar scooter chassis in warmer climates. I remember a review which stated that it couldn't have weather proof doors and windows because it would be taxed at a higher rate.

        No one is suggesting that golf carts are a practical vehicle to take out on the road and live with day to day. Never played it but I am guessing when the weather is that bad people are parked at the 19th hole.

        1. Robert E A Harvey

          Fixed it

          "No one is suggesting that golf carts are a practical vehicle to take out on the road and live"

          there, fixed it for you

  9. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

    The right niche

    I wouldn't buy one, but if they were available around large cities on a "drive 'n dump" basis (Boris cars?) they might be useful.

  10. Ilmarinen

    Neat, but...

    Pity it's electric. If it had a small, say, petrol flat twin it would go better, have heating, better range and probably be more efficient overall.

    1. returnmyjedi

      Re: Neat, but...

      Like a Fiat 500 TwinAir then? A bit more porky for sure, but as least its crumple zone isn't your tib and fib.

  11. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Isn't that £7 1/2k only the start ?

    When I first heard about it, IIRC I looked it up and that price is "batteries not included". You can't buy the batteries, so that's an extra monthly cost for battery rental.

    Or am I remembering the wrong car, or did they change that ?

  12. jake Silver badge

    Methinks the wife&I's tandem bicycle ...

    ... is a lot more cost effective, usable, environmentally friendly, etc. than the Twizy. In all departments. Initial cost, range "on a charge", park-ability, maintenance costs, longevity, bail-out-ability when idiots in cages do something stupid, etc.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    about those scooters, they're not cheap eitther

    As much as I would personally go for the Honda Integra Scooter for £7,800 with a claimed 80MPG Scooters arn't for everybody and as previously said above the world doesn't revolve around the UK.

    As a lad I used to hire mopeds and Vespas abroad, jump on wearing flip-flops and swimwear, no head protection and girlfriend on the back. The Twizzy is pretty much a safer, more practical scooter, in which most of us would prefer our daughters were taken to the beach in given the choice of two wheels.

  14. Dr_N Silver badge

    Context is everything

    Works well on the Cote D'Azur. Being charged by the goodness of nuclear and hydroelectric.

    Less so anywhere in the north.

    Also France has culture of "vehicles" that you can drive on the road without a licence from the age of 12 1/2. [sic] Unlike the UK.

  15. Steve Knox


    Renault is to be applauded for building the Twizy: it’s clever, innovative and very, very different. But don’t confuse that with something you’d actually want to use every day.

    So many extraneous words. Might I suggest:

    Renault: different, [b]ut [not] something you’d actually want to use.

  16. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Is it me or do the doors remind anyone else of elytra? I imagine with the right paint job it would easily be mistaken for a ladybird.

  17. Paul

    it seems to be a mobility scooter that goes a little faster a bit further and has a canopy.

  18. David Kelly 2

    Consumption Is Consumption No Matter What You Are Consuming

    If you’ve read our review of the Tesla S, you might get the impression that all electric cars can make sensible petrol car replacements.

    Replacement, yes.

    Sensible, no.

    $100,000 of consumption is $100,000 of consumption no matter if its building batteries or refining oil.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: Consumption Is Consumption No Matter What You Are Consuming

      Oddly enough there is a market for 5 seater executive saloon cars in that price bracket. Not everyone wants or buys the cheapest available model of everything. Compared to the cars it is designed to compete with (Mercedies S class and BMW 7 series for example) it compares favourably.

      Tesla's plan is and always has been to start at the top of the market (where the margins are high) and work downwards. Their next model is targeted to cost $35k which is much more in the mainstream price bracket.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    given renaults

    propensity for shoddy electrics, an all electric car seems a bit of a mis-nomer.

    perhaps an "electric car, sometimes and a garden ornament most of the time" is more suitable.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what the (...) is this thing for?

    Can I do a local tesco run in this, instead of on my trusty mtb? Fuck no! Too large for the kids to play in the garden, too wide to fit on cycle path. Too large to fold and packaway when I fly ryanair... And I bet it costs a £££.

    oh yes, baby, 8 grand. LOL

  21. MisterIrrelevant

    It would fit in a garage though...

    If anybody picked up on this I missed it, but one thing that the Twizzy will do which almost no current production car is able would be to be easily parked in a normal standard single garage with adequate space to easily enter and exit the vehicle.

    Unhealthy depreciation also makes them available for a much more reasonable £4500-5000 on the used market too. At that I reckon that it starts to make quite a bit more sense for short range commuting and such like.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Add 1000 pounds of batteries on this thing...

    And it might transmit some confidence. 1000 lbs. of batteries on the bottom might turn this joke into something useful, with a decent autonomy.

    And double this engine to 35-40 HP.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019