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Affordable Electric Car of the Year 2020: Renault Zoe

The Renault Zoe is the 2020 Auto Express Affordable Electric Car of the Year, with the Honda e and Kia e-Niro commended

The Zoe came of age in its second generation, and for many reasons. But we’ll start with arguably the most important one for an electric car: range.

Thanks to its 52kWh battery, the Zoe offers up to 239 miles of range, which is more than EVs costing much, much more than the Renault. It bolsters this performance with strong charging capability, too, with 50kW rapid-charging technology available, which will allow the Zoe’s battery to be replenished to 80 per cent in as little as an hour and 10 minutes.

However, the Zoe is a compact EV that most buyers will probably use for shorter trips, so you might not need to charge the car for two weeks at a time, depending on how you use it. Overnight charges from a home wallbox will take around nine hours and 25 minutes.

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If you don’t think you’ll need rapid-charging capability, you can save some cash by going for the models not equipped with this tech. That’s because every Zoe is fitted with Renault’s Chameleon Charger, which accepts 3 to 22kW AC charging for overnight top-ups. Plus you get a free 7kW wallbox.

We would suggest going for the higher-powered 133bhp R135 motor and top-spec GT Line trim too, because most people buy on PCP finance or a lease, and the strong residual values of this model mean its monthly cost is actually the most affordable. There are some great deals available at the moment, too.

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The 245Nm of torque on offer instantly gives the Zoe its urgency in town, and this is combined with maturity and refinement that few small cars can match.

It’s quiet, the ride is smooth – so comfort is good – and there’s a good level of practicality and versatility, because this EV has no engine and no fuel tank (as an ICE car would), and its boot capacity is 338 litres.

There’s lots of advanced tech, too. The GT Line car features a slick digital dash and a 9.3-inch touchscreen with nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it’s the electric hardware that makes this a great affordable EV.

Our choice

Renault Zoe R135 i GT Line Rapid Charge (£31,495 with PICG)

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It might be the priciest cash buy, but thanks to its rock-solid residuals this top-spec car is the most affordable Zoe on finance. All-round parking sensors, a reversing camera, lots of advanced safety kit, LED lights and climate and cruise control are all fitted as standard.

Commended

Honda e

If you want a stylish EV for mainly urban use, the Honda e is great. It looks cool, and the infotainment system is a big step on for Honda, covering the full width of the dash. Range of around 100 miles could be an issue, but not for mostly town use, especially with rapid-charging capability.

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Kia e-Niro

Kia has kept its e-Niro fresh enough with subtle styling tweaks and upgraded infotainment. There’s a smaller-battery version now available, too, but it’s the 64kWh model we’d go for; it offers a genuine 280 miles of range, making this electric family SUV incredibly usable.

New Car Awards 2020: the winners

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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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