Renault Zoe - Electric motor, drive and performance
It’s quick off the mark and great around town, although the Zoe runs out of puff on motorways
The Zoe uses a single electric motor to drive the front wheels, powered by a 52kWh battery which is fairly large for this size of EV but does allow it to cover up to 239 miles on a single charge.
The car is at its best around town, where the light steering and zippy, instantaneous power delivery make the Zoe a relaxing and easy drive, even in the hustle and bustle of a city or when navigating tight multi-storey car parks. The noise that the car emits at low speeds to warn pedestrians of your presence can be quite irritating after a while, but it’s a small price to pay to help prevent anyone walking out in front of you.
Once you hit the open road, the Zoe isn’t as well-rounded as its competitors. The ride is generally well composed, although the firm suspension can send a thump through the cabin over larger potholes and on particularly uneven surfaces the ride can become a bit choppy.
Body control isn’t dreadful, but the Zoe does roll a bit even with the 326kg of batteries mounted beneath the floor. There are only two levels for the regenerative braking system, D which allows the car to coast like a petrol or diesel model, or B that slows you down when you lift off the throttle. It’s not quite capable of one-pedal driving like a Nissan Leaf, but it’ll get you pretty close.
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Road noise is reasonably well contained, but wind noise becomes fairly intrusive at higher speeds. When we tested early Zoes the light trim often reflected in the windscreen, but thankfully this was fixed from 2015 models onwards. It’s just a shame the issue of nasty blindspots created by those thick, sweeping A-pillars still hasn’t been addressed.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
The Zoe was previously available with two power outputs: the R110 powertrain produces 107bhp with 225Nm of torque, while R135 models deliver more straight-line shove with 134bhp and 245Nm of torque on tap. Renault only offers the R135 setup now, which is pretty sprightly off the mark with 0-30mph taking 3.6 seconds.
However, push on and you’ll notice the Zoe runs out of puff, as it struggles at higher speeds and on steep inclines. The R110 version takes 11.4 seconds from 0-62mph, with a top speed of 84mph. The R135 is able to make the same sprint to 62mph in 9.5 seconds, before topping-out at 90mph.
You’ll also need to be out of Eco mode if you want to utilise all of the Zoe’s power. Eco, the default setting for the car, dulls the throttle response and limits the top speed to less than 60mph. You turn it off using a switch on the dashboard, or by pushing on the throttle hard enough, though in that case the Zoe will return to Eco mode once you ease off.
In this review
- 1Renault Zoe reviewThe Renault Zoe is a capable small electric car, let down by its poor build quality and safety rating
- 2Electric motor, drive and performance - currently readingIt’s quick off the mark and great around town, although the Zoe runs out of puff on motorways
- 3Range, charging and running costsA 245-mile range and solid residual values help to boost the Zoe's appeal, though sub-par rapid charging speeds shouldn’t be overlooked
- 4Interior, design and technologyRivals feel much better built than the Zoe, whose infotainment system is well behind the curve now too
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Zoe is as practical as any other supermini on the market, though cabin space is limited
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Zoe’s three-year warranty is decent, however buyers will be concerned by the zero-star safety rating from Euro NCAP