I took the Renault Zoe for review with a little trepidation. Without the reassurance of a petrol or diesel engine under the bonnet I was imagining my week being a little more difficult than usual. Think more planning and fretting.
I shouldn’t have worried. I was testing the Renault Zoe Z.E. 40, which is the Zoe with the new longer range battery. The theoretical range is 400km but Renault say 200 to 300km is more realistic. When I got into the car with a full battery, the range read 240km. There’s still plenty of panic free driving in that.
The Renault Zoe is Renault’s all-electric supermini. It’s been on the market a few years now but the 22kwh battery’s quoted 240km range looks measlier compared to the 400km of the new Renault Zoe Z.E. 40.
Zoe is cute. This is a compact car for the city but my white test car was a chic companion. Inside the dashboard and centre console design is similar to the Renault Clio, and infotainment is provided via the Renault R-Link multimedia system and operated using a 7” touchscreen that includes Bluetooth and navigation. Sombre black plastics feature a lot in the cabin and they do look cheap in places. There is seating for five, but this is a small car so rear seating space will be tight for tall passengers. The boot is a good size for a supermini at 338 litres.
But of course the beauty of the Renault Zoe is that it’s guilt free, zero emissions motoring. Motor tax is just €120 per year and you never have to see your money burned up by a combustion engine again. The Zoe can be charged from any of the 1200 public charging points in Ireland or from a domestic mains supply or wall charger. Charging is very simple and Zoe can get a full charge in as little as 2 hours and 40 minutes from a quick charger.
The Zoe produces 92hp from its electric motor and 220Nm of torque. This translates into a zippy ride around town and I can confirm that Zoe will easily win traffic light drag races such is the immediacy of the electric torque. 0 to 100kmh is a more leisurely 13.5 seconds and out of the confines of city driving Zoe likes to take her time to pick up speed. The Zoe is quiet and refined with just some audible road noise. On larger roads, the Zoe feels stable and secure, though motorway driving at high speeds will see the range drop more quickly. For a small car the steering is not overly light, so it doesn’t feel lost on tight, twisty rural roads, and handles predictably in corners, if not dynamically exciting.
In Ireland, the Renault Zoe comes in three trims: Expression Nav model costs €23,490 including grants but does not have the new battery. Dynamique Nav with the Z.E. 40 400km battery costs €27,490, while Signature Nav costs €29,990. All prices include the battery, so there is no additional expense for battery lease.
My test car was the Dynamique Nav model with climate control, R-Link and cruise control, 16” alloys, rear parking sensors, chrome front grille surround, auto lights and wipers and four electric windows. Signature Nav adds leather upholstery, parking camera, BOSE sound system, heated front seats and some bronze interior detailing.
€27,490 is a lot of money for a small Clio-sized car and Zoe’s interior quality certainly would not make that any sweeter of a pill to swallow. But for buyers looking to dip their toes into electric motoring the longer range Renault Zoe Z.E. 40 offers real comfort in day to day driving. Charging up didn’t feel like too much hassle and I really enjoyed my time with the Renault Zoe.
Model tested: Renault Zoe Z.E. 40
Price: €27,490 (Range starts €23,490)
0-100km/h: 13.5 seconds
Top speed: 135km/h
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Motor tax: €120 per year