Renault’s Zoe has been around since 2012 and now it’s just been updated. It’s got a big battery for more range and it’s also got a new cabin and updated exterior styling as well.mWhere the previous Zoe had a 41Kw/hour battery this new version has a 52 Kw/hour battery which lies across the floor of the car so it doesn’t impinge at all on cabin space.
Special mention : Electric savings, cabin space is good for a small hatch, electric torque makes for a fun drive. Keyless entry opens as you near the car.
Needs work : You can’t adjust the seat height, you can adjust the seatbelt height. Simple interior is focused on being easy to use. The rear seats don’t fold flat, boot has a slightly awkward shape. Keyless entry can auto-close a little too quickly if you’re only walking around the car to get cables.
Specs: As tested
|Max Power 135 HP||Electric / Auto|
|0-100 km/h in 9.5 seconds||Road Tax €120|
€1,000 Green Grant + 2% APR
+ 3 Months Deferred Payments
|Boot litres 338-1,225 litres|
Mounting the battery low down helps keep the center of gravity low which is great for handling. Full range readout is 275 Kms that’s about 30% more than the previous version of the Zoe. The range in an electric car really does depend on all sorts of factors such as how hard you accelerate, cold
weather, devices used in the cabin, wind speed etc these variables can see the range drop.
Key points around charging, if you opt to get a home charger there are applicable government grants. The Zoe will charge from empty to full in eight and a half hours. Equipped with a 50 kilowatt rapid charge option you can plug into a compatible public charger, of which there are thousands across the country. You’ll get 50% charge in 38 minutes which is enough for another 150kms of driving.
Inside you notice how high the driving position is, this is because the batteries are spread out across the floor so effectively the driver sits ‘on top’. It’s a minimal and airy cabin in the front and as in any small hatch rear seat space can be a little bit tight. It feels like a solidly made cabin and the switch gear will be familiar to Renault buyers.
The dashboard is dominated by the large touchscreen, although from the drivers’ seat you tend to focus on the digital instrument display first. The infotainment system is easy to use, the main menu is clearly laid out and intuitive to navigate. This particular car is a high spec model which means it gets the more powerful 134 HP motor as well as lots of safety and convenience kit. There’s wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay / Android Autp and a reversing camera. The Zoe also gets part recycled, part synthetic leather. This is a top spec GT line Zoe that means it starts at €31,307. The Zoe range actually starts from €26,469 and now comes with €1,000 Green Grant at 2% APR.
The Renault Zoe is it’s in its element in town, the visibility is good and it drives nicely. As there are no gear changes, it’s really smooth and the torque delivery is even throughout. At very low speeds the mandatory sound that it makes is a bit alien. It’s there for pedestrian safety and disappears over 15 km/h. There are two things you can do to tease out just a little more range particularly when driving in town or on a country road, the first is to hit Eco mode and the moment you do, you feel how much less acceleration you have when you touch the throttle pedal. The Zoe doesn’t become tediously slow, and then when you push through the soft throttle, you get full performance.
The second thing you can do is to knock the drive selector lever into B mode to engage regenerative braking. When the car starts to slow down it inverts the motor and that charges the battery, so slowing down just puts a little bit of charge back into the battery. It’s not the most forceful regenerative braking system, even so in the city in particular, there is enough retardation when you lift off the accelerator pedal, it will slow the car down all the way to a stop, so it becomes a bit of a game if you can you drive through town without touching the brakes.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Zoe is that it’s actually pretty fun to drive whether you’re in town or on urban roads. In the end it’s all relative, this is no electric hot hatch but even so and particularly if you’re not in Eco mode, put your foot down and you get a real rush of acceleration particularly from very low speeds, enough acceleration to leave most normal cars standing at the lights. The steering could be a touch sharper but the handling is pretty keen, it’s also agile and responsive partly because the center of gravity is so low in the car. All of this is what makes the Zoe quite amusing to drive. You’ll have to make an informed decision if an electric car is right for you, do you have charging available, do you mostly do short run journeys at the range of up to 275 Km or so. The option of 50 Kw charging the Zoe would work just fine for the majority of drivers for the most part of their daily requirements.
At €26,469 Euro the Renault Zoe is genuinely more affordable than most electric cars. The thing about the Zoe is you will offset your monthly payments with the reduced fuel bills but best of all the Zoe is characterful and it’s good to drive.