Whatever you think of the city car concept, it is a reality. Or at least congestion is a reality, parking mayhem is a reality, pollution (especially in London) is a reality, astronomical petrol prices are a reality.
And so the city car should exist in a real way which address issues of space, practicality, cleanliness and cost. Surely the market if nothing else should dictate this?
And yet the city car is invariably too bloated, too thirsty and too inefficient to deserve much respect, when judged on the above criteria at least. And whilst there is no doubting the integrity of cars like the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Seat Ibiza, and VW Polo these are not radically different from the hatchbacks that most of us drive most of the time.
And yet these five-seaters, as any commuter will tell you, are usually enjoyed alone.
The Renault Twizzy however will begin to tackle this conservatism head-on. This vehicle is nothing if not radically designed . With all the design panache of a concept car the Twizy is going to take a few urbanites by surprise.
Renault recognise the Twizy’s limitiations, suggesting on their website that:
‘The Twizy will clearly appeal to busy, car-owning city dwellers looking for a second vehicle, as well as younger drivers interested in a safe way to gain experience in traffic.’
This of course all makes a lot of sense. But it is the design features which will appeal (or not) to the romantic - or the Francophile – in all of us.
The design is just so quirky: sweeping lines, open bodywork, gullwing doors, a windscreen which extends over the top of the car; plus that extraordinary lighting configuration at the rear.
This is a new vehicle which exists somewhere between the car and the scooter. And yet it is quietly, unassumingly powered by an electric motor.
This is the Twizy’s trump card. With the car being so light (450kg including battery) and small you can squeeze the most out of the battery powertrain. As Gavin Green puts it in Car Magazine, impressive as cars like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi I-MiEV are ‘they are hamstrung by their conventional architectures’.
That’s why Green named this the car he most wants to drive in 2012.
Despite this excitement the Twizy may yet suffer from that notable malady of the truly innovative, namely that it is too far ahead of its time to survive; that it is too dangerous, too risky, too funky, and too French.