Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Fire up the... Renault Twizy

EVER since they cancelled kids' TV favourite Captain Planet saving the world hasn't been the same. Eco-friendliness is all very noble but it's - to my mind at least - a bit boring.

This is particularly true of electric cars, which have at best been dull and overpriced and at worst fatally flawed, but Renault's determined to change all that. With, by the looks of the utterly bonkers Twizy, something that's been styled by Gerry Anderson's production team rather than a car company's design department.

Tall in stance, open-wheeled and equipped with little bodywork other than a set of scissor doors cast in plastic rather than steel, the Twizy (which, by the way, rhymes with easy and not, as I thought, Thin Lizzy) is quite unlike anything I've clapped eyes on. In fact, the only thing that comes close in terms of visual impact is the Morgan Threewheeler I drove earlier this year, and in both instances you'll have to get used to being looked at.

So the Twizy, if you're shy, probably isn't not your bag but - and I really wasn't expecting it - it is mine. It is, if you've been raised on a diet of fast cars with noisy petrol powerplants, not exactly the last word in speed, but it's weirdly thrilling to drive because it's so nimble and because the relatively low grip from the skinny tyres offer up as much fun at 30mph as some cars struggle to do at twice that.

With electric cars it's usually at this point I say it'd be great if it weren't for an extortionate price tag, but at less than seven grand the Twizy doesn't have one.

Think of it as a car and you won't get it - it's too exposed, too impractical not plentiful in the seats department for that - but as a scooter for scaredeycats it's big fun. It's small, easy to park, kind to the environment, and because it comes with seatbags and an airbag and because you can't fall off it, a whole lot safer than taking two wheels to work. In fact, I think the Twizy's only real failing is that, with it being an entirely eco-friendly effort, Renault won't offer you one with a perkier petrol engine.

The Twizy is odd and impractical but it puts a smile on your face and has a definite ‘want one' factor. Which for me makes it a landmark in the world of electric cars.

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