Small electric cars aren’t charging out of dealers yet. But the first all-electric VW – the new e-up! – is now on sale in the UK, and a zero-emission version of one of the world’s best city cars could be what finally takes small EVs into the mainstream.
The battery-powered up! costs £19,250 after the Government’s £5,000 plug-in grant and gets luxuries like heated seats, cruise control, DAB radio and sat-nav. Its electric motor produces 81bhp and 210Nm of torque while, depending on the conditions, VW promises a range between 50 miles and 90 miles. But the Renault ZOE is cheaper than the e-up! and offers similar power, range and charge times. We’ve put them head-to-head to see which is better.
The e-up! and BMW i3 are the first cars to come with a CCS combi charger set-up, which provides both a seven-point CCS-style charge plug and a conventional UK three-pin socket.
The ZOE gets only the seven-pin version, so can’t be charged using a normal domestic plug. However, its Chameleon charger system works with single or three-phase power, and Renault will fit a charging station at your home for free.
You get the battery included in the e-up!’s purchase price, but the ZOE’s cells are on a monthly lease. Depending on contract length and mileage, it’ll set you back £70 to £103 a month – or £3,348 over 36 months for drivers doing 12,000 miles a year. This reduces the VW’s price premium to £707.
Buyers can order their e-up! from one of 24 specialist dealers across the UK, while Renault will sell you a ZOE from all of its 248 retailers. Since the ZOE went on sale last year, the company has sold just 390 examples here.
As with all electric cars, the e-up! will be held back by its limited range and high price. But if you’re in the market for an EV, this new VW is one of the best. It’s as good to drive as the petrol up!, plus is faster, more desirable and has a higher-quality feel than the ZOE.
The ZOE is cheaper to buy than the up!, but battery rental charges reduce the price advantage. And while it offers a similar range, and has more cabin space, quality isn’t up to the VW’s standard, plus the ZOE doesn’t handle with the same verve. It’s slower, too.
|Volkswagen e-up!||Renault ZOE Dynamique Intens|
|On the road price/total as tested||£19,250/£19,250||£15,195/£16,140|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)||£6,102/31.7%||£5,546/36.5%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£0/£0||£0/£0|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||N/A||N/A|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||10/£294/A/£0||16/£364/A/£0|
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service||£249 (3yrs/30k)||£299 (4yrs/40k)|
|Engine||Electric motor||Electric motor|
|Peak power/revs||81/2,800 bhp/rpm||87/3,000 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque/revs||210/2,800 Nm/rpm||220/250 Nm/rpm|
|Battery charge time/range||9 hours/93 miles||Nine hours/130 miles|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||251/959 litres||388/1,225 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||9.8 metres/0.32Cd||10.6 metres/N/A|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/1yrs||4yrs (100,000)/4yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||10,000 miles (1yr)/223||18,000 miles (1yr)/153|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||16th/25th||21st/9th|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars||89/80/46/5||89/80/66/5|
|0-60/30-70mph||10.3/10.8 secs||12.7/15.0 secs|
|30-50mph||4.0 secs||5.0 secs|
|50-70mph||6.8 secs||10.0 secs|
|Battery hire||N/A||From £70pcm*|
|Auto Express economy/range||N/A||N/A|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||N/A/0g/km/0%||N/A/0g/km/0%|
|Airbags/Isofix/rear parking sensors||Four/yes/yes||Six/yes/yes|
|Automatic box/stability/cruise ctrl||Yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/yes|
|Climate ctrl/leather/heated seats||Yes/no/yes||Yes/no/no|
|Metallic paint/DAB radio||£500/yes||£495/£240|