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Renault Twizy (2012 on)


Technic Coupe

reviewed by 101repairs on 24 February 2013
Overall rating
How it drives
Fuel economy
Tax/Insurance/Warranty costs
Cost of maintenance and repairs
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Better than you would ever imagine, RenaultSport chassis, 2p per mile fuel cost, no road tax

I saw one of these parked up in my town and was curious, so I waited for the owner to return, discussed it and ended up buying one, much to the excitement of my two young children.
This was no thanks to Renault UK and the local dealers who knew very little about the vehicle and could not even confirm a true range on one charge. I ended up getting all the info I needed off a company who have 7 of them which are hired out to tourists and other info from the excellent www.twizyowners.com forum.
The first thing you notice on owning one is that you get a lot of attention driving one and it is not uncommon to be filmed or photoed on every journey or to come back to a crowd poking at it, sitting in it or photo-ing it when parked up. This is fine for me, but my wife dislikes the unrelenting attention it draws.
Our is a white Twizy Technic (abroad it would be an 80 Technic as there is a lower powered teenage friendly 45 model there) with the optional scissor doors and official Renault windows.
Safety and handling:
It has crumple zones and an airbag, and with the excellent RenaultSport (read hard as nails) chassis it is much safer than it looks as it handles confidently and intuitively without any electronic interference or assistance. There is no power steering as it is so light, no ABS, no ESP and it drives with a purity similar to an old Alfasud so is a real hoot even at lower speeds up to its limited top speed of 52mph. Handling wise, it has initial very predictable and safe understeer and then progressive oversteer from the rear driven wheels, but you have to be being ridiculous to get it out of shape. That said, greasy roundabout can be hysterical fun on its Eco tyres if driven by a pro as it does drift beautifully. The only time a normal driver will get concerned is if they have to do a full on emergency stop in the damp when the grip of the front tyres (smaller than the rear tyres) can be lost with excessive panic braking. You don't buy a Twizy for mad hooning, it is an Eco electric car-but it is great fun and the superb handling and constant attention can push you back to teenage antics. The safety concerns are the lack of car safety features (it is classed as a heavy quadricycle to bypass a lot of legislation-chiefly crash testing), particularly side impact protection and also the fact that a rear passenger (especially a child) will faceplant the rock hard front seatback in an emergency braking situation, or worse a collision.
In context, it is a much safer option than a scooter but falls short of car safety levels. The startlingly accurate controls, the fact you can hear and feel the road conditions superbly, the feeling of vulnerability, the low top speed and also the small size allowing avoidance manoeuvres do ease much of my own safety concerns though. If they put every new driver in one of these for the first six months, the roads would be a safer place as they would learn how conditions affect driving and how to control a vehicle through skill and not covert electronic system nannying.
It is fun to use, you drive defensively and unless you want to be idiotic it is very stable and secure.

It costs around £1 for a total 0-100% recharge, which gives between 32 miles (cold weather, lights/wipers/heated screen use, doing 40-50mph on roads with some gradients) and 50 miles (warm weather, eco style driving) but bank on 30-35 miles in winter, 35-40 miles in summer if you want to drive normally and keep with traffic. In most EVs this would be an issue, but the Twizy has a 13 amp, 3 pin household plug on a 3 metre long coil flex, so charging is much easier than an EV with the Mennekes type plugs which need charging points.
I use mine confidently and just scav a quick plug in at cafes, mates, businesses etc and always offer to pay but no-one has yet taken money as it is less than a pound to fully charge.
The best way is to fully charge (3hrs 15mins) and then top up as needed when you have chance, plugging in 30 mins here and there as needed. The last 10% (90-100%) charging cycle is slower than the initial charge speed. Those nervous of this, remember it has a household plug, charges quickly and the battery hire covers you if you do run out as Renault UK sends out a vehicle to assist. You would be daft to run out though as you have a charge display, range display and alarms that sound at eighth capacity and sixteenth capacity, plus a limp home/limited power reserve that kicks in when a few miles only left.
When buying mine I was paranoid about range-this has been overcome with using it and knowing how to get best range (when you coast or lift-off on slowing down it charges the battery up) by driving to suit it. In a sentence, mine does a hilly rural 33 mile A road route, keeping up with traffic, in minus 2 degrees with lights/wipers/heated screen use and has between 2 and 10 miles range left at the end of the run.
Do not, however, expect to do much over 30 miles flat out at 52mph on a motorway though-constant full throttle with no brake regeneration eats the battery.
Battery hire:
An initial concern of mine but it makes better sense than buying them (not possible-you must hire them £39-57 per month depending on mileage) as they come with assistance if you lose charge, will be replaced if faulty and means the Twizy does not depreciate like other EVs where the battery is included in the sale price-owners are nervous about the huge replacement costs (eg £10k on an Ampera) after a few years so the retained values are very poor on those EVs. You don't need a specific charging point for a Twizy either, which saves the cost of installing one-a simple outside 13 amp socket is sufficient.
One worry is that Renault will only replace the power packs if they only hold less than 75% charge under the hire agreement-in my own case 75% of my current full range would be useless so only time will tell what happens if/when the batteries start to deteriorate.
I would not buy one without doors as these have major benefits over and above the feeling of better weather protection, in that it deters most oiks from sitting in it and also means the floor space either side of the driver seat can be used for shopping. With two adults (one in front of the other like on a motorbike) you can load a week's shopping around you or carry a small dog each side. The door catches do shake loose though and need constant tightening and realignment, plus the gas struts which lift the doors do not have enough pressure to lift the doors on their own in cold weather. The optional mud flap extenders are a MUST at £25 as they stop the mist of rain and mud which pervades the cabin without them fitted. There are two gloveboxes, one with power socket and a small lockable cubby behind the rear seat. It is designed as a fun, stylish city car but is more useful than expected and copes well in rural areas like ours.

Official Renault windows at £295rrp or £218 on ebay are dreadful and should be avoided. Other windows are being developed which seem better and even Renault are working on a new version. They do not seal the gap, rattle, squeak, scratch easily, are hard to unzip and offer no draught protection and allow water, snow, frost etc into the cabin as well as leaving a huge vent gap at the rear end which mean the seatbelt still gets wet. Mine were fitted and removed after a week of swearing at them.

Weather protection:
If you wear clothes that would suit a long walk in whatever the weather is, you will be fine in a Twizy with doors but no windows, as long as you can wipe the seat down before moving off if it has been raining. The cabin is well designed to send the weather around the driver and even on full range runs in freezing weather just boots, gloves, jacket and hat have been fine for me. The rear seat passenger gets all the wind, rain etc in their face so if carrying a passenger in rain a lot, find some non-Renault windows. That said, using a Graco Junior Maxi child seat and taking my 4 year old to school/2 year old to nursery in all weathers, they gets wetter going from the Twizy to the school entrance door than on the entire school run. They also beg to go in the Twizy whatever the weather.

Brand and dealer quality:
It is a Renault and has all the "experience" that that brings. One friend said "You said Renault electrics were a nightmare and you have bought an electric Renault? Huh?" Hmmm.
Some forum users have had outstanding dealer service and are delighted with Renault and the Twizy, so my advice would be to only buy from a dealer who is both interested and knowledgeable in the ZE range and known for their decent customer service, otherwise walk away as you will be seeing a lot of them and it is infuriating when dealers like mine know nothing about essential things such as battery range and say "they should not really have bought the Twizy into the UK" "any design faults need reporting to Renault UK and not us".
KEY POINT: Is your Renault dealer a Twizy fan? Have they sold any? Are they interested?
Reliability and recalls:
Throttle pedal sticks down in cold weather (Red OTS recall) mine has been replacedBrake calipers sticking/fluid leak (Blue OTS recall) mine have been "worked on"
Hazard light switches a known fault-fail when wet, standard Clio switch placed in wet position, mine has been replaced
Door catches can fail or stick
Door guides on lower edge need constant adjustment and squeak when loosening
Door gas strut lifters not high pressure enough to lift door in cold climates
Handbrake electronic switch from brake pedal can fail
Dashboards steam up if car left outside
Reports of wiper stalk failures

Ownership: it is a new concept and a big risk for buyers, especially being an electric Renault but in reality as a second car it is very practical and useful. We have several vehicles and find the Twizy the best fit vehicle more often than we would ever have imagined. You won't want to use it daily, two-up on a flat-out wet motorway commute, but every little errand and shopping trip is much more pleasurable in a Twizy; you're in the fresh air, can speak to passers-by, it fits in tiny parking spaces and through tiny gaps and is a great talking point. Added to a huge grin factor and less than 2p per mile fuel cost, it gets the vote and the usage over our other cars far more than we ever imagined.
Many buyers use them for business as there are a lot of options outside of Renault and they are so eye-catching a stickered-up or brand wrapped Twizy is a great attention getter, plus being electric it gets 0% BIK tax and free road tax.
For us, as a small business, the Twizy is paid for twice over in saved diesel and the BIK saving, so it is a no-brainer.
Being an open vehicle that needs a power point to charge up will restrict purchase for many; you need to be able to leave it parked unlocked (the doors do not lock, only the steering, two cubbies and the handbrake) and you need to have a power source to plug into-a second floor flat owner in a rough street is never going to buy one!
Things that need improving:
It was brave of Renault to bring it out, fair play to them, so let’s give it a chance-the recalls etc are part of being at the cutting edge of a new product.

To update the design for Twizy II, I would:
Install LED daytime running lights as the current power sapping halogens go against the whole idea
Improve the handbrake design
Add 20cm to the seatbelt length as it can be a stretch for the handbrake if in bulky clothes
Swap the seatbelt upper mount to the offside for RHD markets to make rear seat access better
Launch a set of decent windows
See to any ongoing issues like using a standard non-waterproof hazard light switch in a wet position
Fit a master switch so numpties cannot turn on hazard lights and sidelights to flatten battery when parked
Miscellaneous notes:
Tyre supply of the standard fit EcoContinentals eTyres is non-existent and they are unavailable at present, there is a near match in Michelin if bought in pairs
No spare tyre, puncture kit or inflator supplied
Yes, a front number plate is required by law even though it is classed as a heavy quadricycle
Yes, wearing a seatbelt in/on a "quad" is mandatory if fitted
Is classed as a quad bike/heavy quadricycle, insurance is limited but possible and in my own experience, only ignoring the broker and speaking direct to the underwriter at the insurance company got my Twizy covered on my policy, and the insured value needs to be price of Twizy PLUS £4000 for the batteries which you HIRE.
Excellent forum at www.twizyowners.com
If you like driving and like quirky vehicles and want a tax efficient way to get around while grinning like a loon and appearing on photobucket all over the world, go and have a look.

If you now own:
a scooter- you will love it (apart from not being able to filter in traffic)
several cars-you will find more journeys to use the Twizy than you thought possible
a Smart Car-you will miss the heater and normality
a business-the Twizy will pay for itself with BIK, fuel savings and publicity possibilities

I was excited on the initial test drive but Renault battered the enthusiasm out of me, I bought one after being evangelised by several owners and have really enjoyed the joyous experiences and outright pleasure in driving it has given me, but not the Renault experience-which may be utterly different in a different area and a different dealer.

If you want a trouble free, little runabout for as little money as possible, buy a Dacia Sandero.
If you hanker for the delicate unassisted controls of your teenage driving days and like to chat to everyone that passes, the Twizy might just make sense! If you run a business, it’s a no-brainer.
Haggle with the dealer enough money to buy a decent coat and hat…and forget the windows.

Everyone who knows me has driven mine; they all come back roaring with laughter, eyes sparkling and chattering like a cidered-up teen.

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About this car

Road TaxExempt
MPG16.1 mpg
Real MPG-

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