Electric vehicles are nothing more than golf carts right? Well the Nissan Leaf has taken the electric car to a new level but in case of the Twizy – yes it is like a golf cart but can tackle the urban environment like no other four-wheeled transport…
It is a well-known fact that the Renault Nissan Alliance has bet big money that electric vehicles will be the preferred means of transport in an world where there are ever-increasing pressures on curbing emissions. Apart from the well-known Leaf there are also the electric Fluence, Kangoo and Zoe vehicles available or planned. The electric vehicle onslaught will not be complete without an affordable, dainty city runabout in the range and that is where the Twizy whizzes in.
As part of the recent COP 17 climate change conference in Durban journalists were given the chance to experience the Nissan Leaf. As the group of journalists were awaiting their turn in the green machine another smaller example in the form of the Twizy was available for short runs in the car park. I took the opportunity to jump behind the wheel as it looked like more fun than standing around. At only 2,34 m in length and 1,19 m in width it is a small vehicle (golf cart?). It looks quite trendy from the outside and the futuristic, clean design is continued inside.
Two seats, one behind the other reminds of a motorcycle (example BMW C1 enclosed scooter) and I was half expecting a handlebar as steering device. Inside a normal steering wheel and cluster not dissimilar to a car greeted me. A Frenchman gave me a quick lesson of how the controls function and jumped into another Twizy shouting “follow me”. Still thinking about the controls I saw the Frenchman disappear in the distance and decided to just boot the accelerator in an attempt to catch up! The initial acceleration is brisk from the 15 kW motor as the total weight of the machine is only 450 kg.
The direct steering is quite heavy and it took some muscle to negotiate the tight slalom course set out. With a turning circle of only 3,4 m manoeuvrability is amazing. The low centre of gravity helps to keep the vehicle upright even when we went through a few sharp corners faster than intended. The brakes are nothing special (no ABS) and a heavy foot is needed to bring the little vehicle to rest. At least the speeds will never be high with a maximum speed of 80 km/h after a long run…
Parking will never again be a problem in town as it will fit in the smallest of parking spots – even in between other cars already parked! Range is limited to around 100 km which is more than enough for the short commute of city dwellers. The range should be stated as distance to numb bum rather than distance to empty as the ride can be a bit harsh over rough surfaces. Weather protection is limited as there are no side doors but Renault will sell you a kind of “winter blanket” to cover the lower torso and keep the rain out.
There are currently no plans to import Twizy to South Africa but it will be available in Europe for around R90 000 excluding battery leasing cost. All-in-all the vehicle is fun and does exactly what it is supposed to do – provide convenient city transport while saving the planet.
Power: 15 kW
Torque: 57 N.m
Range: approximately 100 km on a single charge
Weight: 450 kg including the battery of 100 kg
Seating: two sitting one behind the other
Length: 2,337 m
Width: 1,191 m