Renault has expanded its electric vehicle portfolio with the launch of the urban-focused Twingo Z.E, a tiny battery-powered runabout that’s ready for a future where combustion engines are banned in population centres.
The Twingo Z.E is a twin to the electric Smart, since Renault and Daimler co-developed them. But the French offering sports a higher capacity 22kWh battery pack (17.6kWh for the Smart) enabling a city range of 180km, slashed to 110km in the middle of a snowy winter when the battery is less efficient.
“Given that the average daily commute for mini city car users in Europe is around 30 kilometres, the operating range is sufficient for a week’s commuting without charging, making it the perfect electric city car alternative to internal combustion versions,” Renault claims.
The 165kg-weight LG Chem battery, which has a new water-cooled thermal management system, doesn’t dent the 240 litres of boot space. It can be charged at any AC input: a 7.4kW home wallbox charges the battery to full in four hours while a three-phase 22kW setup will get the car to 80 per cent in 63 minutes.
The electric motor is fitted at the rear of the car, and makes 60kW and 160Nm. The 0-100km/h time is a leasurely 12.6 seconds but the more relevant 0-50km/h time is a snappier 4.2 seconds. Top speed is 135km/h. There are three resistance levels of brake-energy recuperation to choose from.
The Twingo’s power unit - battery, motor, single-speed transmission - are based on the Zoe’s, and put together in western France. The Twingo itself is assembled in Slovenia.
The rear-wheel drive Twingo retains an incredibly tight 8.75m turning circle (equating to 4.4m across for a U-turn). For context, the also 3.6m long Kia Picanto’s turning circle is 9.4m.
Stylistically, the Twingo Z.E gets extras such as different badges, a rear-flank charging socket, blue wheel caps, and different alloys. The interior gets various colour and trim choices, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, and lots of storage spots.
Renault’s decision to make an electric Twingo is no surprise. This class of car in Europe is largely going zero emissions, since city drivers rarely need long ranges, and key markets are well furnished with public charging infrastructure.
With strict emissions protocols coming - and existing in the case of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone for example - it’s an obvious product planning decision.
The Volkswagen Up has gone electric, as has the Smart car. The next-generation Fiat 500 will be powered by batteries too.
The Twingo has never been on the cards for Australia. However, the bigger new Renault Zoe will arrive in the second half of this year, with an uprated 52kWh battery pack and a driving range of more than 390km, plus a 100kW motor.
By year’s end, Renault’s line-up will be comprised of completely new or updated models. More on that here.