Renault’s Twizy goes F1 mental!

I love it when a car maker produces something which we’ve all secretly dreamed of, but never dared hoped for. This Ladies and Gentlemen, is one of Renault’s fastest cars – as quick from zero to 62mph as the Mégane Renaultsport 265.

The Twizy F1 is inspired by motorsport’s premier formula, not just in its colour scheme, but in the way Renault have gone about maximising its EV performance.

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Thanks to its Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) – borrowed straight from Formula 1 – power is boosted six-fold from 17bhp to 96bhp, with 79bhp of that available for up to 13 seconds.

The Twizy Renault Sport F1 sits on the wheels of a Formula Renault 2.0 single-seater race car, with slick race tyres able to contain the Twizy’s full fury at maximum boost.

Keeping it firmly planted to the road, up to its 68 mph maximum speed, is a new front splitter, complemented by side-pods, rear wing and a diffuser. Rounding off the F1-style is a rain light from a Formula Renault 3.5 car at the rear.

“We always said we wanted to create F1-derived technology that was road relevant!” Said Jean-Michel Jalinier, President and Managing Director of Renault Sport F1. “Hopefully, this Twizy will make a few people smile while also making a serious point.”

“The project was led by Renault Sport F1 and Renault Sport Technologies, working in close conjunction with Renault’s electric vehicle development department. KERS is a very complex system and integrating it into another electric vehicle was a very serious endeavour, but they managed to make it work, delivering a huge boost of power safely and efficiently.”

“I’m not sure we’ll be seeing many of these on our roads, but it does show that the same principles we see on the race track can be filtered down to the road legal range – this is just the evil elder brother!”

Adapting KERS

The Twizy’s rear seat has made way for the KERS which is visible inside a transparent housing, while an F1-type steering wheel from Renault Sport controls the KERS functions and provides access to an ‘RS Monitor’ data logging system similar to the one available on the Mégane R.S. and Clio R.S. 200.

While KERS is designed to recover ‘some’ of the kinetic energy which is generated under braking, the Twizy isn’t fast enough to manage on this energy alone. To get round this problem, the experts at Renault Sport Technologies and Renault Sport F1 developed a system that enables the battery to be charged by siphoning power from the main motor.

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The driver can choose between two modes using the controls on the steering wheel.

1. Recovery mode: where the electric motor functions like a conventional generator, drawing power like a dynamo to convert the mechanical energy produced by the Twizy main motor into electrical energy. Up to 4kW can be siphoned off in this way to charge the battery while on the move.

2. Boost mode: the energy recovered using the Recovery Mode can be re-employed whenever the driver wishes by pressing on the button located on the steering wheel. This reverses the process.

Instead of serving as a generator, the KERS’ motor-generator unit (MGU-K) now functions as a motor to bring a power boost to the principal motor which is directly linked via the driveshaft. This adds up to 79bhp for a period of 13 seconds. When the system is triggered, the maximum revs of Twizy’s motor rise to 10,000rpm (from 7,500rpm) for a top speed of 68 mph.

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Even though the KERS unit adds 30kg in weight, the Twizy Renault Sport F1 still tips the scales at just 564kg (up from 473kg in the standard car). Its power to weight ratio increases from the standard car’s 36bhp/ton to 172bhp/ton, close to the Mégane R.S. at 191bhp/ton.

There’s still something of a gulf between the Twizy and a real F1 car – which manages around 1,154bhp/ton.

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Where can you buy one? Or see it?

Even though Renault won’t be offering the Twizy F1 for sale, it will be on show at several major motorsport events during the year.

Its first appearance will be at the World Series by Renault meeting at Aragon, Spain (April 27-28), followed by the Barcelona Motor Show.