/ Motoring, Parenting

16-year-olds could drive the Renault Twizy

Twizy car by Renault

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

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No worse than a 16 year old motor-cyclist – I rode motor bike at 16 and was as careful and as responsible as 25 year olds.

Wirecutter says:
4 April 2012

Having tried an original Sinclair death trap when even a BMC Mini topping it out, and then attempting to turn left across three lanes of traffic I told the owner who had allowed me to try it out that I will visit him in hospital! That went down a bomb as well you can imagine.
Just picturing how a 16 year old will cope worries me as even now most peddle cycle riders believe that they are surrounded by a wall of unbreakable glass and are totally indestructible so what will there feelings be with body work around them


Though I agree that many cyclists have little or no idea of road safety or the highway code – it has little to do with age. I’ve actually seen far more over 16s drive badly locally than under 16s.

I doubt whether 16 year old motorcyclists are significantly worse than 17 year olds – and this is supposed to be about 16 year olds driving a four wheel machine.


I wonder how many 16 year olds can afford £6000 plus insurance.

Put on doors and windows and replace the rear seat with some storage space and you might have a vehicle that would appeal to those with mobility problems, providing they can get in and out.

Peter Trant says:
26 April 2012

I totally agree about putting windows on the doors. They don’t have to be electric and even sliding side screens would do. I also agree that the rear seat should be scrapped in favour of more storage space. I am in fact disabled and am considering purchasing this vehicle rather than a conventional car providing that it can be converted to hand controls only and have a bracket fitted to the rear to carry my wheel chair. Subject to these adaptations this quadracycle would be an ideal vehicle for me in retaining my independence.


We’ve just added a poll to this Convo asking “Should 16-year-olds be able to drive ‘micro-cars’ like the Renault Twizy on public roads?” if you’d like to have a vote!

Andy says:
5 April 2012

I live on the Isle of Man and you can drive a car at 16. Although since I passed my test they have introduced an R-plate, in which newly qualified drivers are restricted to 50mph for a year. So I have no issue with this.


I’m not sure that enough thought has been given to practicalities. I imagine that four strong men could pick one of these microcars up and put it on a trailer. How much is insurance likely to cost?


The Twizy certainly is lightweight – but Renault seems to have thought about the ‘lift it away’ issue as it offers an anti-lift alarm as an option (£170). Insurance groups have yet to be confirmed but are estimated to be Group 10 or 11, which is pretty high for a car like this.