Renault Zoe Review
With more and more manufacturers going electric Renault are keeping up with the competition with an updated version of their Zoe.
- Emission free
- Spacious for a supermini
- Quirky design
- Charging cables eat into the boot space
- Indicators are noisy
The Renault Zoe came out back in 2012 when it was one of a few electric cars on the market, its futuristic design proving quite quirky and you could say, along with the Nissan Leaf it started the electric car generation.
With more fully electric models in the segment now Renault have refreshed it for 2018, so we took it for a drive to see how it fares.
On the Road
The Renault Zoe comes with the new R110 motor which replaced the R90 giving it increased power output to 107PS, and a maximum 225Nm of torque with a top speed of 84mph.
You might think they’re not huge figures but it is impressively quick from the off, there’s an Eco button to limit the performance usage and climate control, but in normal mode using the automatic gearbox it’s quick and this propels it to a 0-62mph time of 11.4 seconds.
It has a range of 186 miles, could this be achieved on a single charge? Highly unlikely as you’d really have to be driving carefully to do this and as the winter approaches with the heating on this would soon start to decrease, but on the plus side it is emission free so would cost nothing in road tax.
This supermini is great for driving around town as it’s so nippy and electric cars are great for this purpose in urban settings, but once you’re out on longer B roads the Zoe gets to stretch its legs and it’s a very capable car up to 55mph. We didn’t get to try it out on a motorway but feel it wouldn’t perform as well as the lack of performance would be apparent, and the range would be munched up pretty quickly. But motorway cruising really isn't the purpose of the car.
Steering is well weighted with plenty of responsiveness, ok it does lack that fun drive you can get with a supermini but for a day to day runabout, along with a decent ride it ticks the boxes.
What was cool about the Renault Zoe when it first came out was its design, much like the all-electric BMW i3 it took styling cues from what cars might be like in the future.
The large Renault badge on the front with the chrome grille surround, the sleek headlights with hints of blue, the concealed rear door handles and the Zoe badge emblazoned rear give it a unique identity in its segment, yet undeniably is from the Renault stable.
2018 sees the car come with a stunning deep Aconite metallic paint colour although this will cost an extra £650.
In the car
When the Zoe was first released what was memorable was the standout all white cabin, the 2018 version is now a more subtle black which looks smart.
There’s Renault’s R-Link 7-inch touchscreen multimedia system which features Tom Tom Live navigation, bluetooth, media, android auto and those all important efficiency numbers and there’s also a useful energy flow graphic showing what could be limiting the range, for example, when you have the heating on.
What’s great nowadays is the ability to get your car warm before you even step out the door and with the My Z.E Interactive app it’s possible to do this and also remotely charge the battery.
The climate control dials have a vibrant blue light surround and the small, letterbox style TFT dash features the range, speed, and mileage set against a bright green background.
With a height and reach adjustable steering wheel, driver’s do benefit from good all-round visibility in the Zoe and for an extra £250 a rear view camera can be added to the Dynamique Nav trim we tested.
The Renault Zoe is surprisingly spacious for a supermini, up front there is plenty of head and legroom and although three people in the rear might find it a bit of a squeeze, at least it can accomodate a middle passenger unlike the BMW i3.
There are Isofix points in the rear and also on the front passenger seat should you wish to use it as a family runaround and one huge plus is the practicality of the boot. With a very useful deep loading lip it’s 338 litres in size, remember though you always need that extra room to store the charging cable and our test car had a Bose sound system in there too, but the rear seats can be folded down if you need increased space.
The Renault Zoe starts from £17,420, our test car with the Dynamique Nav trim came to £18,670. Although the UK Plug-in Car Grant, which provides a discount to buyers of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles, has recently been reformed the Zoe will still be eligible for a £3,500 discount.
Naturally the Renault Zoe has been the best-selling all-electric car in France and in 2016 it topped sales in Europe too as it’s nearly £10,000 cheaper than the rival Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3 will set you back even more.
Using a 43kW quick charge to 100% range it will take 2 hours 40 minutes while a 7.4kW home wallbox will take just over 7 hours.
There is a Renault EasyLife Pack for 3 years/30,000 miles servicing for £299 and the Zoe comes with a three-year/100,000 mile warranty.
The problem with Renault is its reliability, it falls short of other European manufacturers and even sister brand Dacia fares better, so although there’s not been any major issues with the Zoe model it’s still an area that they need to massively improve upon.
Despite this the Renault Zoe has impressed in the world of motoring, it was one of the finalists in the 2013 World Green Car of the Year and most recently was named the What Car? Car of the Year 2018 Best Electric Car Under £20,000.
In the 2013 Euro NCAP tests the Renault Zoe scored the maximum five stars with 89% for adult occupant safety and 80% for a child occupant.
It comes with plenty of safety and driving systems including cruise control with speed limiter, emergency brake assist, stability and traction control, hill start assist, rear parking sensors, plenty of airbags and Renault’s Anti Intruder Device, automatic locking to you and us, once you get over 6mph.