Renault ZOE review
The Renault Zoe is a capable small electric car, but is ultimately let down by its poor safety rating
From behind the wheel, the Renault Zoe feels much like a traditional combustion-engined supermini – albeit a much quieter one. It would especially appeal to families with two or three cars, as the Zoe suits shorter commutes and daily errands perfectly. It's still reasonably practical, though, and cheaper to buy or lease than a BMW i3. Not to mention the fact it'll cost you mere pennies to run.
But, despite a decent battery range, the Renault Zoe is looking increasingly expensive compared to a growing list of talented all-electric rivals, while its poor zero-star rating from industry safety body Euro NCAP makes it even harder to recommend.
About the Renault Zoe
There are two things that you need to consider before putting a Renault Zoe on your buying shortlist. First, how far do you drive on a daily basis? This is the crucial factor when buying an electric car, and the main reason why many people think an electric car isn't for them. However, the Zoe has an electric driving range of around 234 miles (conditions permitting), and if you only need a car to run around town on short trips, then that will be more than enough to cover most journeys.
The second factor between you and buying an electric car is the ability to charge it. With the UK's public charging infrastructure still growing, your best bet is to charge it at home. If you live in a flat or terrace without any off-street parking, then the ability to recharge the Zoe will be more difficult, but if you have a drive or garage, then you'll soon get into the habit of plugging the car in overnight to charge it, just like you would with a smartphone or other electronic device.
If you can accommodate these requirements, then you can consider the Zoe as the electric supermini alternative to petrol-powered models such as the VW Polo, Citroen C3 and even the Renault Clio. In terms of competition, the compact BMW i3 is more expensive, the Vauxhall Corsa-e and Peugeot e-208 deliver less range, while the Nissan Leaf is from the class above. Stylish rivals such as the Fiat 500, Honda e and MINI Electric are also sure to catch the attention of buyers looking for a smart, sophisticated urban runabout.
The Zoe is supermini-sized, and it has a few design flourishes to help it stand out from the crowd. The smooth bodywork marks it out from the Clio, while metallic blue details in the lights and badges are a signifier of Renault's electric models. Inside there's a stylish interior with lots of smooth surfaces, while the switchgear and infotainment touchscreen are borrowed from the Clio.
The Zoe was previously available with two outputs from its single, front-mounted electric motor: an R110 model with 107bhp or an R135 version with 134bhp, although Renault now only offers the more powerful version. The lithium-ion battery pack sits under the seats where a fuel tank would normally be in a petrol-engined car, and is charged via a socket in the nose.
As standard there is a Type 2 plug capable of up to 22kW on an AC connection, at which rate a top-up from zero to around 200 miles of range will take just over two hours. At the other end of the scale, a 7.4kW home wallbox will need almost eight hours. DC charging via a CCS port is available, with an 80 per cent charge delivered in 65 minutes.
Renault has pared back the Zoe range to just one available trim level. The Play, Iconic and GT Edition have been discontinued, with just the GT Line+ now featured on the price list at £30,495 (including the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG).
For an alternative review of the Renault Zoe, visit our sister site drivingelectric.com...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Renault Zoe is a capable small electric car, but is ultimately let down by its poor safety rating
- 2Engines, performance and driveIt’s quick off the mark and has a decent range, although the Zoe runs out of puff on motorways
- 3Range, charging and running costsIncreased driving range and solid residual values help to boost the Zoe's appeal
- 4Interior, design and technologyThere are plenty of gadgets and gizmos, but some systems are fiddly and quality could be improved
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceWith improved range and access to faster charging options, the Zoe is as practical as any other supermini on the market
- 6Reliability and SafetyRenault's five-year warranty is reassuring, although buyers will be concerned by the Zoe's zero-star safety rating from Euro NCAP