Wednesday 15 August 2012

Road - Busy in a Twizy

Arriving in style at Gleneagles
The Renault Twizy is not for the faint hearted or shy and retiring types. And depending on where you are driving it will attract anything from admiration and smiles, to curiosity and ribaldry.

For instance, driving down the High Street in Auchterarder on a sunny day is one thing, but driving through  Easterhouse or Saughton quite another. The Auchterardians looked amused and bemused, but interested, although I suppose they will be used to seeing a lot worse given the clientele that often frequents Gleneagles Hotel.

Folk were nudging each other and pointing, probably thinking that someone had escaped from the hotel in a blinged up golf buggy, but the whole idea of the exercise was to sample the practicalities of electric vehicles.

When you see it in the flesh parked next to a real car, the Twizy is much smaller than expected. It’s difficult to gauge the dimensions from press photographs where the car is often pictured on its own. It’s short, narrow and tall and will carry two people – in tandem.

Doors are optional
That means the one in the back has to climb in and turn round to sit down, or reverse in. Forget mini skirts and the retaining of any dignity. The driver has an easier task. For many would-be buyers, it’s still vastly more practical than a motor cycle or a scooter.

It’s also very light at 474 kgs which means that the 17 hp electric motor gives it a decent turn of speed when required. No gears, just push the pedal and go – quite briskly. I even took it for a spin on the open road and caught up with a white Cayenne with shiny black alloys just dawdling along.

It's not as big as you think.
The reaction was quite funny. I could see the driver’s head bobbing backwards and forwards from door mirror to rear vision mirror so I feinted a couple of overtaking passes as if I was looking for a safe place to pull out and overtake. And you know what, half a mile up the road he pulled over to let me past, mouth agape.

The wee thing was doing 50 mph at one point and at no time did I feel scared even when watching the wheels turning just beyond my feet. It's got suspension at all four corners, even so, the driver quickly learns to go round or run astride manhole covers and drain gratings.

It should be good for a 60 mile range, or more if you ca' canny, and it costs £1 to charge it up. There's another clincher. It's a hoot to drive.

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