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Renault Kangoo ZE and Twizy 2014 Review

Postman Pat never had it so good. If the affable postie ventured into a Renault showroom in Europe, he'd be able to do deliveries emissions-free in a Kangoo electric van.

Renault has the Kangoo ZE (Zero Emissions) on trial with Australia Post, which already uses its light commercials.

More than 14,000 examples of the plug-in Kangoo have been sold in Europe in its four-year life. Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar says the trial is aimed at starting Australian sales.

"Renault is a global leader in electric vehicle technology, with four models currently on the market worldwide," he says. "Kangoo ZE has already been a strong sales success."

The little electric van is a comfortable operating environment, no different in operation from its mainstream counterparts. There is a battery level gauge and, instead of a tachometer, charge dials.

There's no diesel chug at idle and it's eerily quiet when under way — the lights in the display are the only clue it's working. That's not to say it will slow traffic or inconvenience other road users.

Fed by a 22kWh lithium-ion battery, the electric motor (44kW/226Nm) propels the Kangoo to 50km/h in 5.5 secs.

Claiming a real-world range of 80km-125km, depending on driving style, the van seems well-suited to metro delivery work.

A focused driver with deft throttle control could make good use of the regenerative braking — which sends charge back to the battery while slowing the vehicle — and leave the brake pedal largely alone.

Without a load in the four-cubic metre cargo bay it's not going to ride with aplomb but nipping around corners at pace is not beyond its skills. Given the electric motor's instant torque delivery, a judicious right foot is needed to avoid spinning the front wheels.

  • Renault Twizy Renault Twizy
  • Renault Twizy Renault Twizy
  • Renault Twizy Renault Twizy
  • Renault Twizy Renault Twizy
  • Renault Twizy Renault Twizy

2014 Renault Twizy

Renault has imported examples of its two-seater electric Twizy to show authorities and potential buyers it's a worthy alternative to a scooter. With scissor-doors and weighing 474kg, the Twizy has to go through many legal hoops and be classed as a quadricycle to be driven here.

Sampled on a closed road circuit, the Twizy quickly endears itself. Fasten seat belts, drop the lightweight doors into place, turn a familiar key, release the handbrake and roll off silently, but for a faint whine from the 13kW/57Nm electric motor, fed by a 6.1kWh battery.

The weight of two occupants settles the ride. It can keep up with traffic — 0-45km/h takes a claimed 6.1 seconds. A broad 191cm passenger can fit behind a 175cm driver — that's a pleasant surprise. It doesn't mind corners, though turn-in is not sharp. Range is 50km-80km, top speed is 80km/h and it takes 3.5 hour to charge from flat, for less than $2.