Renault ZOE – REVIEW

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

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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.

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Interior

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.

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Driving range

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.

Opinion, 3.5/5

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.

Dimensions:
Length: 4084mm
Width:  1945mm
Height: 1562mm
Boot:     338litres (seats up), 1225litres (seats down)

Performance:
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

Warranty:
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.

The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.

6 thoughts on “Renault ZOE – REVIEW

  1. I’m interested as to what cups you’ve been using, the only cups in the UK that don’t fit into the cup holders are the burger king superzize. The rest like MacD, Costa, etc fit snugly and securely into the centre holders once you move the change holder (used to be called the cigarette butt holder).

    Personally, I keep sports bottles in the spacious door storage as well as all the useful things like ice scrapers and kiddie wipes.

    The glove box thing is worth knowing about in the right hand drive variant, the fuse box wasn’t moved so you have a half width glovebox and a cubby hole next to the steering wheel.

    It’s worth noting clearly that the car has 3x ISOFIX + Top tether points around the vehicle, one in the front passenger position.

    The rear sill paint is a pity, but there’s a factory pack you can buy that fits a plastic cover IIRC. An important thing to note is that the boot seal isn’t glued on in a manner that will stick if you drag something heavy over it, I removed a washing machine from the boot of my first Zoe and pulled 1″ of seal free. It pushed back on.

    Also it’s worth noting that the Q210 engine charges flat to 80% in 20-25 minutes not 30, if you’re buying a Zoe for your primary car get the 30 minute charge engine for long travel. If it’s your second car or a city car then you have the option to get the slightly longer rage car that won’t be impeded by longer charging times.

    Lastly, you can get a lot of remote control over the vehicle from charging times, AC timings, to app and system updates. Yeah the touch screen is a lot more than just maps (but it won’t let you view photos or play films whilst the car is moving).

    1. My moan about the cup holders relates to how shallow they are, especially when using sports bottle or kiddies fruit shoots, the drinks simply topple over from my experience.

      1. Oh OK that’s interesting. I guess everyone has different setups, we found the fruit shoot bottles fitted into the door pockets and we’re definitely enjoying the central car seat with the two cup holders now as well 😉

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