Long term report: Renault Twizy
But before I explain that strange opening paragraph, let me make some formal introductions to our newest long-term test fleet member – the Renault Twizy.> This full EV can do around 60 miles on a charge, which takes about four hours and costs less than £1. It'll do 50mph, doors are optional extras and it looks like a turbo-charged mobility scooter.
But, as I said, it's cool. I've been driving the bonkers Renault for a month now, to and from the office, which is about two miles away, and I absolutely love it.
There is no other car available anywhere in the world that attracts so much attention yet costs so little. Starting at £7k, and with a monthly rental charge for the batteries (which facilitates replacement if they go wrong) that starts from £45 a month, it's an absolute magnet for attention.
Everywhere I go people stop and ask me questions or stare at me like I've just been dropped out of an Independence Day alien spacecraft. People laugh, point and track my passing with fly-catching open mouths. In fact, every time I use it something strange happens.
Take that aforementioned Waitrose trip. You can park right outside our local store, directly in front of the check-outs. In I popped to grab some milk and while I'm waiting to pay an excited shelf-filler rushes over.
"You'll not believe this," she blurts out to her colleagues. "There's an ELECTRIC car outside! Look!" pointing at my car.
Not one to turn down a moment to bask in the limelight I admitted it was mine.
"Wow, that's so cool," said one, before her colleagues asked what it was like to drive, how it was charged, how much it cost and where they could buy one.
I'm not sure they would have got as excited about a Leaf or Zoe – because it's the Twizy's mad looks that really gets people interested. It's absolutely bonkers and I still can't quite believe that Renault built it. I'm sure glad they did, though.
Inside, space is best described as cosy. For the driver it's not too bad, although the seat could do with the ability to tilt the back-rest. The passenger, who sits pillion style behind the driver, is a little more cramped and in wet weather gets a bit damp. The Twizy doesn't come with doors or windows, although we do have both.
Renault sent a man to fit some windows for us a week after the car arrived. These are made from plastic with metal edges that slot into two brackets on the doors – it's a bit like putting up a tent. To be honest I prefer the Twizy without them.
On the road it's great fun. It's comfortably quick enough to keep up with town traffic, it handles well and although the suspension crashes a little, it's bearable. Our car has a retro-fit Bluetooth system fitted with two speakers in the roof, but to be honest I've never been in the car long enough to worry about using it. I'd rather it had a stereo so I could listen to Chris Evans on the way to work.
The scissor style doors look seriously smart when you throw them open, and the fact you can get out either side has meant I can park within inches of my colleagues' drivers side doors, so they have to climb in the passenger side. I don't think that joke will ever grow old – for me at least.
I think part of my love for the Twizy comes from being a biker. It's got some of the fun of being out in the open like being on a bike, but you don't get wet and there's no time wasted putting on a load of protective equipment. A friend of mine, who also has a bike, bought a Twizy and agrees it's a big part of the appeal for him too.
I've got six months to look forward to in the Twizy and I'm already seriously considering buying one at the end. So we'll think of this as a six-month test drive, which my wife hopes won't end with me signing on the dotted line for one. The first time I drove it home she nearly turned me away – "you're not parking THAT on the drive," she growled. I'm hoping the passage of time will help her get used to having it around so if it does become a permanent fixture she might just not notice...
Model: Renault Twizy Colour
Price: £8,810 as tested
Engine: Asynchronous electric motor
Max speed: 50mph
0-28mph: 6.1 seconds
Costs this month: 99p (cloth to wipe the seats when it rains)