Twin'Z - is Renault 5 being reborn?

Published Apr 8, 2013


This is the Twin'Z, a concept car so different that it's not even on display at a car show but at the annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano, one of Europe's top design expos.

It's a collaboration between Renault and British furniture designer Ross Lovegrove, a cheeky little all-electric city car with rear-wheel drive and a rear-mounted motor, that draws inspiration from the iconic Renault 5 and, more recently, the Twingo.

Which begs the question: Is Renault putting a toe in the water of a possible Twingo replacement, or showing us the direction future plug-in production cars might be heading in?

Certainly, putting the motor under the rear seats and the battery pack under the floor frees up lots of cabin space and delivers decent handling that makes it fun to drive.

It's only 3627mm long, 1705mm wide and 1506mm high.

Nevertheless, a high waistline and all-electric, rear-wheel drive architecture enabled the 18” wheels to be pushed out to the car's extreme corners, providing it with a solid grounding and large platform for outstanding cabin space in relation to its compact footprint.

And yes, it's a runner; four 96-volt lithium-ion battery packs spaced evenly beneath the floor and a 50kW, 226Nm synchronous electric motor with rotor coil, driving the rear wheels via direct drive with reducer gear and forward/reverse invertor, give it a top speed of 130km/h and a range of 160km - although not at the same time!

It's built on a straight-forward tubular chassis with MacPherson- strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension, covered in carbon-fibre body panels, and weighs 980kg ready to go.


Lovegrove's team contributed the finishing details on the body - bumpers, lights, grilles, LED roofscape and wheels - on a Renault chassis, and the whole interior, including the choice of colours and materials.

The satin blue finish is intended to look as if the colour is in the material rather than on it, with a soft clear-coat for a velvet-like feel and slight iridescence to remind us that it is actually a machine.

The rear doors are hinged on the C pillar, obviating the need for a B pillar and providing unrestricted access to the cabin.

A sequence of LEDs also extends from the grille to the rear bumper via the roof; a pattern of light originates from the Renault lozenge badge and flows towards the headlights before climbing up over the windscreen pillars, along the roofline and then back down to the rear bumper.

The glass roof is designed in layers with an array of LEDs forming animated patterns, blending seamlessly into the rear window.

The double floorpan has resulted in a high-up driving position, giving excellent all round vision, with the rear seat-backs integrated into the floor-pan to create extra space.

The four lightweight seats have been made as small as possible, their frames apparently growing out of the floor. They're trimmed with a self-cushioning, lightweight blue fabric that's both waterproof and flame-resistant, yet still breathes, while the seat frame is visible behind the weave.

There is no dashboard - a smartphone mounted in the driver's line of sight display's the car's speed, range-related information and the principal warning lights and a touchscreen display on a central post takes care of everything else, from the car's heater, seat adjustment, lighting and roof control to the GPS guidance system and in-car connectivity.

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