June 11, 2021 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2021 Renault Twizy 80

Reflections of Formula-E

Renault is back in the country literally in a very small way via the novel Twizy 80 electric microcar. The Twizy name is supposed to be short for “Twin-Easy” as it is an effortless two-person EV mobility alternative to a scooter. It has been stealthily sold, run, and supported independently throughout the archipelago through William Go’s Renault Twizy Philippines (contact number 09178547059 Fb/IG/YT: @twizyph). Since I am a member of both the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (eVAP) and the EV Owners Society, I had the unique privilege of experiencing the 2021 Renault Twizy 80 over 5 test days through the personal unit generously loaned to me by the importer William. According to William, he has sold close to 50 units already in just over a year with most deliveries being done outside of the Nation’s Capital Region. The sales outside of the metropolis makes more sense as you can enjoy the window-less little quadricycle more out in the countryside breathing the fresher air. 

The Twizy is so compact that his deliveries are being processed through a Toyota HiAce with the seats removed and using custom ramps which easily allows the van to swallow the whole unit. And since the only liquid reservoirs on the light 474 kg. (weight of 4 average regional teenagers) Twizy are for the non-ABS 4-wheel vented disc brakes (214 mm up front and 204 mm at the rear) and windshield washer fluid, there is little risk of ruining the cabin carpets. William only imports the top-spec 80 variant which is more powerful and more useful than the 45 which is much slower and best operated only in the city. The model numbers represent the top speed achievable even if the range and weight are identical. You can install an aftermarket Powerbox (costs about P69,000.00) that reprograms the Twizy to produce twice the torque to raise the top speed to 120 km/h since the ISKRA asynchronous electric motor can produce 12-kW but is factory tuned to half that for longer-term service life. The standard top speed is actually 85 km/h which is honestly sufficient for its intended commuter purposes and you don’t want to sacrifice the range which is already limited. 

Renault may claim a 100-kilometer range but that would mean using it under crisp 20-to-22-degree Celsius weather and not exceed 45 km/h. Our tests concluded that the realistic everyday usable range in the Philippines is 68 to 78 kilometers on a full charge. The great news is that you can use a normal standard 220-240 V 10 A household socket to charge the battery which would take only 3.5 hours to charge fully from a completely depleted battery using the supplied tethered extendable spiral cable housed in its own front compartment.

William sells the very attractive Renault Twizy for P680,000.00 in multiple colors which comes with a 3-year LTO registration included in the price. The colors available are white, black, red, orange, and sky blue. The Twizy actually qualifies to travel on the highway too especially since most new highways have dropped the maximum allowable motorway speed to 80 km/h.

The Twizy 80 test unit had optional equipment installed to improve the overall experience. Essentially the additional cost breakdown of the installed items are: Bluetooth USB audio at P29,000.00 that comes with two overhead mounted speakers, the spoiler with third-brakelight P17,000.00, the quilted leather seats are P12,000.00, the Öhlins comfort springs are P8,000.00, and the special leather mats are P14,000.00. Other options not installed on the test unit are windows at P21,000.00, projector headlights at P9,000.00 and a cover at P9,000.00. The other nick-nacks seen in the photos like the electric fan and dashboard camera are just add-ons bought online that are powered by the available 12V auxiliary plug found in the left-side dashboard storage compartment. The LED H4 bulbs and DRL in the round headlights are direct replacements for the standard halogen and peanut bulbs.

The Twizy has been around since 2012 but they were mostly sold in Europe. The tandem two-seat microcar was originally manufactured in Valladolid, Spain with ramped up production in Busan, South Korea to boost production for the growing world market. It was designed by Françoise Leboinne and Luciano Bove. The ground clearance is 120 mm (4.72 inches). The wheelbase is 1686 mm, length Overall length is 2338 mm. Width is 1396 mm. And the height is 1454 mm. The chassis was developed by the Renault Sport division so the taut handling is actually very planted and predictive. The fully independent MacPherson strut suspension on all corners uses liberal amounts of aluminum. It is very well built and innovative. The scissor doors are very cool but they don’t have locks nor windows. Then again, keep in mind that it was engineered to be a safer and greener urban alternative to a scooter so the only lockable area is the right-side glovebox though there is a 31-liter storage underneath the rear passenger seat. Speaking of safety, the driver has a steering wheel airbag and a four-point seatbelt while the rear passenger has a three-point seatbelt.

The 6.1 kWh lithium-ion battery is located underneath the front seat. 0 to 60 km/h is achieved in 8.6 seconds which sounds really slow but feels sufficiently quick on urban roads. The Twizy looks a lot faster than it actually is by design thanks to the Formula-E looking wheels that are mounted outside of the fuselage-looking body while the perspex panels on the doors allow you to see the front wheels and the road. The 13-inch alloy wheels are staggered, the Continental Conti.eContact front tires are 125/80 R13 65M while the rears are slightly wider at 145/80 R13 75M, which are rated to handle up to 130 km/h.

Visibility is similar to riding a full-scale scooter. The seats are firm but adequate. The steering column is fixed and feels lighter than a golf cart. The cabin can get muggy since there is no climate control whatsoever so installing remote positioned electric fans would be helpful in making the small environment more comfortable but it will take away from your battery range. Thankfully the Twizy does have a regenerative brake system that helps extend battery usage. To assist in extending battery range the digital instrument panel displays an Eco-guide, speed, range, and charging status that simply displays whether you are reclaiming energy through the brakes or expending it.

The Twizy does use a key to wake it up and you manage motion via straightforward dashboard buttons for Drive, Neutral, and Reverse. There are rear sonars for parking too which is great. And a conventional dash-mounted handbrake when you are done using it. Overall performance is fairly brisk and peppy, accompanied by the now familiar whine of the electric motor. The limited suspension travel does translate to a firm ride and there is heavy understeer but the Twizy does handle really well and does not feel like it will tip over unless you really deliberately drive like a fool. There is an optional UV filtered clear sky roof which looks great but would be too hot for our climate. I do wish Renault or an aftermarket manufacturer would offer solar panels to optimize the roof surface and help further extend battery range. It is very endearing as long as you embrace its inherent compromises.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Single permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor producing 13 kW & 57 Nm, 6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, 1-Speed Direct Rear Drive.
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 17 hp @ 0-2,100 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 42 lb-ft @ 0-2,100 rpm

Performance

Top Speed 85 km/h (53 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 0-80 km/h (0-50 mph): 19 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 100-kilometer range (68 to 78 kilometers in real-world use)

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 680,000.00
What's Great Overall design, provocative quadricycle, engaging scooter alternative, can be a very useful mobility tool.
What's Not So No climate control, No ABS, limited range, very limited storage, not lockable.
C! Editors Rating 8.5/10
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