First Drive: Renault Twizy Cargo

Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2014   |  

Renault has launched the industry’s least van-like van in the form of the twizy Cargo. electric and more like a motorbike than a transit, the Cargo is designed purely for urban small-item delivery firms that might currently use motorbikes. pizza delivery seems another logical application.

The Cargo costs £6242, plus the cost of leasing the battery, which varies from £30-£75
per month depending on the number of years and miles signed up for.

The 13kW battery equates to 17hp for the little twizy, and the official range of 60 miles between charges should mean, renault claims, to around 45-50 miles in the real world – that’s plenty for urban operators who can recharge overnight.

However, charging overnight will be an issue because the twizy Cargo isn’t something you’d be comfortable leaving parked on the street. Our vehicle’s doors, opening with a Lamborghini-style scissor action, are a £545 option, and even then only offer a strip of protection across the middle of the door and aren’t lockable, so any passing oik can just clamber in and potentially leave a little present if they so desire. That temptation will only increase if the option box for the doors isn’t ticked, leaving just an appealingly open cabin. At least it’s not possible to disengage the handbrake without switching on the ignition, so it’ll be tough to push the Cargo away, although there is a suspicion that a handful of strong blokes might be able to wander off with it.

The interior is, predictably, weatherproof, and forward, reverse and neutral gears are selected via buttons on the dashboard. A parrot bluetooth system is a £290 option – not that I can imagine it being very easy to hold a conversation, what with the wind whistling around the door when you’re on the move, and passing pedestrians being able to lean in and contribute to the chat when you’re at a standstill.

Good though it is that the umbrella-style handbrake won’t disengage without the ignition being on, it’s not a lot easier to release when you want it to, and is so stiff it can sometimes be a two-handed job. there are two little gloveboxes on either side of the dashboard, which, while lockable, feel as if it wouldn’t take much to wrench them open, so are not somewhere to store valuables. the weatherproof seat is comfortable but solid, and features a four-point seatbelt to garner a feeling of security.

The Cargo swaps the regular Twizy passenger models’ back seat for a lockable storage
area of 0.18m
3, so roughly a fifth of that offered by the likes of a Vauxhall Corsavan.

It’s a big square area and plenty useful enough for firms carrying small goods short distances across town.

Maximum speed is claimed to be 50mph, although we saw 52mph on the digital display on a downhill stretch, dropping to mid-40s when the gradient reversed. The battery also
takes quite the hammering, unsurprisingly, when you try some flat-out progress.

But around town, where the Twizy is designed to be, the acceleration from standstill means it can more than hold its own against proper traffic, although the size difference is brought
into focus when a lorry pulls up behind. Every stone crunch is audible under the little tyres, and the steering is surprisingly heavy.

If small goods and urban environments with secure overnight parking fit the profile of your business, and as long as you’re not shy and like making small talk with strangers about your wacky transport, the Twizy Cargo has a place all on its own between the smallest vans and motorbike couriers. And, so long as it’s dry, a fun place it is too.

Verdict

Ridiculous, but garners a reaction like nothing else on the road

 



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