Meet Twizy – Renault’s radical new miniature electric car. It’s fantastic fun, and I can see it having huge appeal for young drivers. But how would you feel about seeing a 16-year-old at the wheel of a Twizy?
A new law comes into effect in January 2013 allowing 16-year-olds to drive ‘micro-cars’ – such as the electric Twizy – unaccompanied.
A new car class is being created by the DVLA for ultra-lightweight cars with a top speed limited to 28mph.
The Renault Twizy could be the first car on sale in the UK to qualify so we could see 16-year-olds driving cars like the Twizy. Solo. On public roads.
Teenagers in a Twizy
The Twizy ‘80’ has a top speed of 50mph and is treated just like a normal car in the eyes of the law. But Renault is also building a low-power ‘45’ version of the Twizy with its top speed limited to 28mph to comply with the rules, and the French firm is currently assessing whether to launch this model in the UK.
Drivers would have to pass Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), driving theory and practical test, but these are much less stringent and in-depth than the tests for a regular car.
This class of car already exists in many other European Union countries. In France teenagers as young as 14 have been able to drive micro-cars for years.
Car, quadricycle or go-kart?
I think the Twizy would be a brilliant car for a young driver. It’s ultra-simple to pilot with its electric motor and press-and-go automatic gearbox. Its RenaultSport chassis makes it feel like a go-kart around corners, while its electric motor was developed with help from Renault’s Formula 1 wing and offers sprightly performance.
It’s clearly much safer than a scooter, too, with a full roll-over cage and an airbag as standard.
It’s not what you’d call practical, though: doors are an optional extra and even then they don’t have windows. The ‘boot’ can barely fit a laptop. And if you want to carry a passenger in the tandem rear seat, they’d have to be part of the gymnastic squad to get in.
The Twizy (a mix of ‘twin’ and ‘easy’, by the way) has funky alien styling that will also get the younger generation excited. As will the price-tag: at £6,690, it’s the cheapest car on sale in the UK. And the lower-power ’45’ Twizy could be as much as £500 cheaper.
Safe and sane?
So what do you think of the idea that, from next year, teenagers could be driving themselves to school or college in a Twizy?
Is it a great way to get younger drivers learning road-craft? Or is it a disaster waiting to happen, as inexperienced road users share the road with HGVs, motorbikes and much more powerful cars?
Should 16-year-olds be able to drive 'micro-cars' like the Renault Twizy on public roads?
No (67%, 373 Votes)
Yes (20%, 112 Votes)
I won't know until I've seen them in action (13%, 73 Votes)
Total Voters: 558