Why upgraded electric Renault Zoe is all the range
With its new ZE40 battery, the Renault Zoe now boasts a real-world range of up to 184 miles. Simon Davis puts it to the test.
The Renault Zoe is a proper hatchback with five seats, a boot and a useable real-world electric range.
It’s also a zero-emissions vehicle so qualifies for the government’s full £4,500 plug-in car grant, bringing the starting price down to a lowly £14,245, not including monthly battery hire.
Renault introduced the Zoe in 2013 but it’s now been facelifted and gains a new 250-mile ZE40 battery and a new Signature Nav top-level trim.
This new battery dramatically increases its appeal compared with rivals. The 250-mile range is based on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) but Renault says, real world, it will be closer to 184 miles in summer and 124 miles in winter.
Under the bonnet
Our test vehicle’s R90 electric motor develops a modest 92hp and 220Nm of torque for 0-62mph in 13.5 seconds and 84mph. But the Zoe will likely spend most of its time in busy urban environments where the instant torque means you won’t hold anyone up at the lights.
The standard home-charging unit can replenish the batteries in as little as seven hours. And no CO2 emissions mean no vehicle excise duty.
How it drives
The electric motor will soon get you to 30mph but takes a long time to reach open road speeds.
The fairly high driving position gives good visibility and it’s easy to slot into tighter spaces.
It’s quite a tall car so there’s a fair amount of lean through the corners, the steering is rather vague and the regenerative brakes a bit grabby so take some getting used to. However, in low-speed city driving, the Zoe is comfortable and incredibly easy to drive.
Space and comfort
Two adults can sit in relative comfort in the back but might be a bit squashed behind taller front passengers. Boot space is decent at 338 litres but slightly short of rivals.
The Zoe looks good from the outside but that low price point is more apparent in the cabin with cheap and scratchy plastic surfaces.
Even entry-level models get Renault’s R-Link infotainment system and satellite navigation. Mid-range Dynamique Nav comes with hands-free key card, DAB radio, Bluetooth audio streaming and rear parking sensors.
The Zoe starts at £14,245 – after the grant – considerably lower than rivals but does not include the mandatory monthly battery hire fee from £59 a month for the ZE40 based on mileage.
If you want to buy the Zoe and battery outright, you’ll pay £19,845 for entry i-Expression Nav.
The Zoe is one of the most affordable electric cars and, as urban transport, its superior range, practical interior and attractive looks make it hard to beat in this segment.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav R90 ZE40 £18,170 plus battery hire from £59 a month based on 4,500 miles a year (range from £14,245 after £4,500 grant)
Performance: 0-62mph 13.5 seconds; top speed 84mph
Charging: domestic – seven to eight hours; fast charger – one hour 40 minutes to 80pc
Official range: 250 miles