At a glance: Renault Zoe

At a glance: Renault Zoe
At a glance: Renault Zoe

Forget high prices and paltry ranges; the Renault Zoe five-door hatchback bucks all the preconceptions of electric cars. Appealing to the same market as the Fiesta, the supermini beats most other EVs hands down for price, and manages a quoted – and competitive – 250 miles on a charge. Kit levels are generous and include a wall-mounted fast charger installed at your house.

The cheapest way to buy the Zoe is to lease the battery, with the monthly fee depending on your mileage and length of contract. Buying the batteries adds to the price significantly, and you’re on your own after the four-year warranty runs out. Also, ensure you can live with the limited range; it’s very good by EV standards, but can still be limiting.

DRIVING

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Performance
• Instant smooth and nippy acceleration; so-so at speed
• Easy and fun to drive around town
• Brakes are frustratingly grabby and inconsistent

Comfort
• Low-speeds ride is good, with broken surfaces well absorbed
• Less composed on faster roads, where Zoe can be easily unsettled

Handling
• Keen turn-in to corners, and plenty of grip
• Light and precise steering
• Substantial body lean, but not too extreme

Refinement
• Well suppressed road and wind noise
• Absence of engine noise
• Extremely quiet compared with petrol or diesel rivals

IN THE CABIN

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Driving position
• High-set driving position can’t be lowered
• Enough adjustability for most drivers to get comfortable
• View out of front largely unobstructed
• Rear parking sensors standard on all but base Expression

Infotainment
• Seven-inch central colour touchscreen
• Reasonably intuitive but could be more user-friendly
• Dynamique and Signature add DAB; latter also has Bose stereo

Build quality
• Cabin looks smart and feels solidly constructed
• Some cheap-feeling plastics apparent
• Overall, isn’t exactly plush

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY

Seating
• Lots of space for tall adults to get comfortable
• Stowage includes glovebox, cupholders, shallow cubby and tray
• Rear legroom tight with taller person sitting in front
• Kids will be comfortable on even long trips

Boot space
• Clever packaging
• Size roughly matches class-leading Skoda Fabia’s
• Annoyingly big lip at boot entrance

BUYING AND OWNING

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Running costs
• Ludicrously cheap company car tax bills
• We’d recommend you lease battery separately…
• …Renault will maintain or replace it, regardless of car’s age

Equipment
• Zoe Quick Charge has shorter range but faster-charging capacities
• Base Zoe Expression does just 149 miles due to smaller battery
• 7kW home charger installed as part of deal

Reliability
• Claims 250-mile range; 174 more likely, and 112 in cold weather
• Four-year, 100,000-mile warranty
• Roadside assistance included during initial battery lease contract

Instant verdict: Low running costs and surprisingly long range make Renault Zoe one of the most recommendable EVs around. Just make sure you lease, not buy, the battery.

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