That faint whistle you can hear is the electric
powertrain of the Renault ZOE electric supermini, which joins the Fluence saloon, Kangoo van
and Twizy quadricycle in Renault’s Z.E. electric vehicle range.
On paper, you might say the ZOE is one of the first budget electric cars when you consider
its range of 100 miles and its relatively low price tag.
But let’s talk about some of the facts. The ZOE is based on the Renault Clio supermini,
but has a zero emissions powertrain comprising of a rechargeable battery and an 87bhp electric
motor, giving you a zero to 62mph sprint time of 13.5 seconds. As many will be wanting to
use the ZOE in and around town, short bursts of acceleration are key, and the ZOE can reach
30mph from a standing start in a rather nippy four seconds.
One of the best things about the ZOE is that it really does feel like a conventional car,
I mean the steering is light, albeit lacking feedback, and the suspension handles bumps
fairly well. It does however feel a little top heavy, so you will get a bit of body roll
in the corners. Although it drives like a conventional car,
you don’t get a conventional gearbox, in fact, there aren’t any gears, so pretty
much all you get is this stop and go selector. There is however, a familiar handbrake set-up.
Sitting inside the ZOE, the Clio influence is very apparent, in-particular this floating
console design. It does have a few unique touches though, like this swooshing design
on the dashboard, which is apparently inspired by a wind turbine.
Some may be worried about kit in the ZOE, but you shouldn’t be as every model comes
with this touchscreen infotainment system with built in sat nav, Bluetooth, USB connectivity
and climate control as standard. Climb up to a higher trim and you also get parking
sensors. Practicality is on par with the Clio as the
cabin feels quite spacious and there are plenty of compartments to store bits and bobs. One
difference you may notice is the higher riding position, and this is due to the ZOE’s battery
being under the front seat. Rear practicality is not bad at all, for a
supermini that is, with enough leg and headroom to keep three rear passengers happy.
The rear seats also fold down to give you a fairly flat loading level. And, the standard
boot size of 338 litres is actually bigger than the Clio and rivalling electric car the
Nissan LEAF. Then there is it’s charging time. Plug it
into a household wall socket and it will take around nine hours to fully charge and cost
around £1. You can achieve a full charge at home in just 3 and a half hours if you
go for the optional Wall-Box charger. If however you use one of the fast-charger points dotted
around the country, you can charge up to 80% battery capacity in around half an hour.
But let’s not forget one crucial element, you need to lease the ZOE’s battery off
Renault every month, for around £70! So, the low price tag of the ZOE may not seem
as enticing anymore, even with the £5,000 government incentive chiselled off. But at
the end of the day, the ZOE is easy to live with if you are looking for a practical, compact
car for the city or urban environment. But what do you think of the ZOE? Let us know
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