I’ve been racking my brain over the past few months, trying to decide on what is the cheapest and cleanest way to travel to and from work. I considered it all, from cheap second-hand diesels to motorbikes and public transport.
In the end I decided that an electric bicycle would suit me and my 12-mile commute the best, and now, in a rather haphazard order, I've had a chance to try out the What Car? Renault Twizy some two weeks after my purchase.
The Twizy is undeniably fun, after a few miles you begin to shrug off the laughs from passing children and realise just how much this little car is making you smile. Add to that the smug sense of satisfaction achieved only when travelling at 50mph with zero emissions, and you begin to understand why this car exists.
The trouble, however, made itself all too visible to me when I compared the Twizy to the electric cycle. Firstly, the cheapest Twizy would cost me £6000 more than my bike and that doesn’t include the battery hire.
Secondly, I still found myself becoming stuck in traffic with the Twizy, to the point where it took me just as long to get home as it would in a normal car. Consider also that the Twizy is nearly as 'weatherproof' as the bike and can cover the same range on its battery and I couldn’t help but feel, with another smug sense of satisfaction, that I had made the right purchase.
By Steve Hayton
Week ending May 10 Mileage 1341 Driven this week 35 miles
With our latest Reader Test Team evening located in Marylebone, I decided to take the Twizy, and I'm glad I did.
It was congestion-charge free, it easily kept up with traffic on the 15-mile journey into town and there was room for me, my coat and my bag – if not much else.
I even drove home, then to the local swimming pool and back into work the next morning with quarter of a 'tank' left.
Best of all, once home I quickly realised Chelsea were playing at Stamford Bridge, meaning there wasn’t a street parking space left in the whole of south west London. No problem for the Twizy, which tucked itself in between a Mini and a motorbike.
Don’t buy a Twizy if the idea of standing out on the road doesn’t appeal, though. I had three photos taken, my hand shaken as well as numerous derogatory shouts – and that was just driving just 150 metres of Oxford Street.
Week ending May 3 Mileage 1306 Driven this week 20 miles
Last weekend saw one of Pistonheads' Sunday Service meets roll around, this time taking place at Mercdes-Benz World in Weybridge. I’ve been to a few meets before, and, as it happens, have only ever taken cars with 0-60mph times of less than 5.0 seconds.
However, this time would be very different. I couldn’t resist the notion of turning up to an event that would be stuffed to the gunwales with Porsche 911s and TVRs in something so fundamentally different (and slow). Because I live 50 miles from the office, a quick stop off was needed to switch vehicles before scooting off in the Renault Twizy down to Brooklands.
I wasn’t sure what reaction to expect when I arrived, but it turned out to be overwhelmingly positive. That’s not to say that anyone there would consider buying one, but there was a continuous stream of interest in it all morning, with barely a moment passing without a handful of people crowded around it.
When I last drove this quirky quad, the zip-up windows were still in place, the weather was dreary and the roads were horrible. I felt miserable. But with its windows off for the summer, the sun shining and the roads smoother, the Twizy suddenly showed some promise.
Given the state of the UK’s roads and the unsettled climate, I could never justify buying one here. But as, say, an urban runabout on the French riviera, the Twizy makes a lot more sense.