In 2013 Renault injected some Parisian chic into the electric car market with the introduction of the ZOE. With bags of character and lots of space all wrapped up in a well-built package that could be the ideal city car that is now available with greater range.
With thanks to Evans Halshaw, Doncaster
What is the RENAULT ZOE?
It’s widely accepted the best super-minis are built by French manufacturers, the Renault ZOE is a well sorted super-mini that was designed to be an EV from the outset with compact dimensions similar to that of it’s sibling, the Renault Clio.
During my time with ZOE differing opinions were voiced on the car’s looks. Some like the pretty face, enjoying neat blue details on the front and rear lights and the concealed rear door handles. Some others however expressed concern the ZOE appeared to be well….. too feminine.
This I put down to the name, a nod to the ZE monica used by Renault, an abbreviation for Zero Emissions. Yes, the car is cute, especially in the Metallic Arctic White colour of our test car, yet is driven by a mix of drivers who enjoy the small hatchback for what it is – FUN!
Behind the wheel the ZOE IS fun as the zippy acceleration belies the performance figures presented on paper. The suspension setup handles most of what Britain’s roads can throw at it, yet the ZOE cannot be labelled as sporty with plenty of body roll when driven keenly.
Beneath the short bonnet can be found the latest generation Renault electric motor (R240) providing 87hp (65kw) of power and 220nm of torque with energy provided by 22kwh battery pack packaged beneath the front and rear seats.
Renault offer two trim options, Expression and Dynamic. The cabin is far more grown up than the exterior would suggest. We drove the Dynamic model, with a mix of black and grey interior elements with the odd touch of chrome.
The dashboard, seats and even the roof lining carry an eye-catching ZE lightning bolt motif adding a neat touch to the all-electric ZOE. The specification of the car leaves little to chance keeping it on par with all other compact models. A particularly useful inclusion is the touch-screen satnav enabling the driver to find the most efficient route and locate those all important charge points.
The chunky steering wheel adjusts for both height and reach helping you achieve the best driving position, however the lack of seat height adjustment can make you feel like you are sat on a perch and for taller driver’s headroom is in short supply.
Another gripe is lack of storage space, something a little strange for a this class of car. The glove box is only large enough to store a compact camera, the lid is full size, but don’t let that fool you. The door pockets are slim with no space for a bottle and with central cupholders too shallow to keep drinks upright, this leaves you just one cup holder which is meant for the rear passengers!
Access to the rear seats is simple, with wide opening doors and plenty of space for three. Parents will be pleased to see two ISOFIX child seat mounting points then disappointed by the standard fit of just two rear headrests. Renault offer a third item as part of an optional luxe-pack at £230 and includes a central armrest which would go someway to fix the storage problems.
At 338litres the load space is surprising large considering the space on offer to passengers. The rear seats sadly do not split reducing the versatility of the space and practically is marred by an high boot sill, which has been left painted with no plastic covering of any kind – just waiting for you to scrape it when loading in the push-chair – I hear it is possible to purchase a cover and maybe worth the investment.
The official range of the R240 driven ZOE is 149miles (NEDC)
As the Renault is not available in the U.S. a preferable EPA rating is not available. In their marketing the French manufacturer quotes a potential range of 71 to 106 miles, dependant on the season. With the absence of heated seats or a heating steering wheel I can see how the range would take quite a hit.
In summer 90 to 100 miles is achievable when the car in used around town, however when out on the motorway the car did feel a little bit out of it’s depth and lacked oomph making cruising behind trucks seem appealing. An ECO driving mode is available to help you stretch out your range, this reduces the electric motor’s output to just 50kw which does leave the car feeling a little sluggish, but certainly increases efficiency.
Recharging the ZOE can be completed using a domestic plug socket, however unusually you will need to purchase a cable for this at circa £400. Instead, Renault provide you with an AC (Type 2) cable to plug into a wall-mounted charge point at home, something Renault currently supply for FREE and will have your ZOE topped up in less than 4 hours.
On the road charging is easily done using the same AC cable and when using a rapid charger will give you 80% charge in 1 hour, if that’s not quite quick enough, opt for the Rapid charge model. This will get you back on the road again in just 30 minutes, however this model does not come with the latest R240 electric motor meaning potential range drops, giving 62 to 93 miles on a full charge, yet has the same zippy performance as the newer motor. The decision is yours.
The Renault ZOE is enjoyable car to live with, plenty of space with some little quirks which don’t really spoil the experience a great deal.
Great offers are available when purchasing new and renting your battery making the ZOE a cheap to run, attractive, yet practical proposition.
Boot: 338litres (seats up), 1225litres (seats down)
0 to 60mph to 13.5seconds
Top Speed 84mph
UK Base list price:
£17,795 (before £5000 Gov’t grant) plus battery rental from £45 per month
£22,795 (before £5000 Gov’t grant) without battery rental
UK Test car price:
£19,395 (before £5000 Gov’t grant) plus battery rental from £45 per month
£24,395 (before £5000 Gov’t grant) without battery rental
Vehicle warranty is valid up to 48 months with a 100,000 mile limitation. Unlimited mileage for the first 24 months and limited to 100,000 miles during the following 24 months (whichever comes first). The electric powertrain also has a warranty of up to 5 years or 100,000 miles.
All details as at November 2015.