Renault Twingo Z.E. is a Smart EV with a French Accent


It’s amazing sometimes how two cars with shared underpinnings can have such radically different executions. Unlike its Smart Forfour platform-mate, the Renault Twingo Z.E. doesn’t look like a robotic boxfish. Nor was it conspicuously canceled recently in a major market. It’s instead a charming, newly-electrified variant of a typically French minicar. And while it’ll never be sold here in a million years, it looks like it’d be a lot of fun to zip around in.

Let’s cut right to the chase, because with the shared running gear there’s not a lot we haven’t covered. The Twingo Z.E. ‘s battery is much larger than its Smart counterpart—22.0 kWh compared to the Smart’s 17.6 kWh unit. That’s enough to bump up range considerably, with the Renault managing to go up to 143 miles on the European testing cycle—compared to just under 100 miles for the Smart variant.

The Z.E. version gets some minor styling tweaks (some badges, some blue accents, and so forth), too, but this basic car was revealed at Geneva six years ago, so the broad strokes haven’t changed much. It’s more pert, more lively, and decidedly more charismatic than the Smart EQ Forfour. Interior changes are even more minimal, with some “Z.E.” logos and special door sills separating it from the run-of-the-mill Twingo.

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The Z.E. shares the Smart’s 82 horsepower motor, which is mounted out back and significantly contributes to the car’s small turning radius. Top speed is limited to 84 mph, which should be plenty for what’s essentially a short-range city car. Maximum charging is 22 kW, which allows the Twingo Z.E. to gain 50 miles of range in about 30 minutes in optimal conditions.

If you live in Europe and like what you hear, the Twingo Z.E. should be on sale by the end of the year. We don’t know what it’ll cost, yet, but keep your eye on the Renault site and those details will surely pop up soon.

That said, the Twingo Z.E. is entering an ever more crowded market, with some compelling EV minicar alternatives at various price points. The new, third-generation Fiat 500 is all-electric and boasts much greater range, and even a musical alert tone, for example. And the exceedingly funky Citroën Ami is a concept car made real, albeit with range and speed restrictions that put it in a far different class than the Twingo Z.E. All will play a role in the continuing electrification of Europe—a trend that shows no sign of letting up.

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