Renault is turning out to be a big player on the market for electric vehicles and it already has the Kangoo Z.E., the Fluence Z.E., the small Twizy, which we’ve tested here, and the Zoe.
The supermini has been based on the newest generation of the Clio and we do know that this is an amazing little car with an appealing design. But what about the Zoe? Is it really as good as the Clio? This is what we’re trying to find out in our review.
Since it’s an electric vehicle, the Renault Zoe has an electric motor (obviously) under its hood. This is capable of putting down a total of 87 HP (65 kW) and a peak torque of 220 Nm (162 lb-ft). Whether this seems like enough for the Clio, on which it has been based, the Zoe does seem to be a bit underpowered at some moments. Juice to the synchronous electric motor is being provided by the 22 kWh lithium-ion battery pack which can be charged at any level of power between 30 minutes and 9 hours. Using a regular socket means that you will have to wait the maximum time of 9 hours to get it up and running from 0 percent to 100 percent, but with a fast charger you can get it up to 90 percent in less than an hour. Good luck finding that near your home or work, especially if you live in Romania.
Renault says that the 22 kWh lithium-ion battery pack can provide you with an urban range of up to 100 km (62 miles), but in the real world this is quite a struggle as we’ve found out, because the Zoe refused to pass the 70 km mark even when it was driven exactly how the officials told us, short bursts followed by deceleration rather than a constant push on the throttle. Here is where we would obviously tell you about what this can achieve on the highway but since electric cars will be seen as dinosaurs in a couple of decades, we didn’t have the guts to leave the city.
Despite being based on the Clio, the Renault Zoe has some big differences with the French supermini. For start, it’s not that comfortable, the suspension system feels stiffer, the steering is not that brilliant either and the driving position is quite high for my personal taste. Combine that with the fact that you are paying a constant attention to the remaining range and you will find yourself suffering from OCD in no time. Don’t get me wrong, driving the Zoe is not that bad and if you have a daily commute than this is probably what the doctor ordered, as a second car, of course, because doing close to 100 km in the city will not cost you more than 2 or 3 euros, depending on your electricity plan.
Driving an electric vehicle should feel like you are on a space ship. For starters, you cannot hear the motor and you expect to find a different design for the climate control buttons and not the ones used by Renault on the Clio, by Dacia on the Logan and Sandero and so on. Even the steering wheel is common with other vehicles made by the French brand but it did receive a beige finish with white accents. The same colors have been used throughout the cabin and they are giving it a more spacious feel, despite not being that well accommodating. A nice touch is the fact that Renault has added its very own car perfume in a specially created gap on the passenger’s side of the dashboard. And this smells nice too, especially when you will press the “recirculation” button on the air conditioning.
The seats are not that bad either and they have a nicer design than the ones used on the Clio. However, I would have preferred some side support and a more comfortable layout. A surprising feature was to find a regular handbrake instead of the electric one and this has been probably added as a feature to save some money, because the Zoe is anything but cheap. Some of the goodies found inside include, besides the air conditioning, with a single-zone, the four electric windows, the electrically adjustable side mirrors, cruise control with speed limiter, the R-Link infotainment system which has been specifically tuned for the Zoe, an audio system, heated windscreen, automatic headlights and wipers and also a specific digital instrument cluster showing the range, speed, charging level and so on.
Renault says that the standard equipment found on the “green” supermini include the AFU, ESP, ABS, HAS, automatic air conditioning, dual front airbags, side airbags, automatic transmission, LED DRLs, automatic headlights and wipers, R-Link multimedia system, Bluetooth, USB, Pack Look and the Tropical Grey upholstery. Optionals include the household socket charger costing 620 euros, the “hands free” front and rear windows, 300 euros, the rear parking sensors and camera for 450 euros, the Europe map costing 100 euros and the Blanc Nacre metallic color, which will set you back for 500 euros.
Likes / Dislikes
Compared to its smaller and cheaper brother, the Twizy, the Zoe is in another level. It feels like a “real car”, it looks good, it is practical, ergonomic and quite comfortable. It is bringing you the necessary “goodies” inside it but the fact that you have a constant problem with charging the battery and what range you have left is quite an issue which will only be resolved by a different battery technology, which will allow faster charging and a higher range. Add the steep price to the package and you’re probably off better with a diesel. However, if you are planning on adding a small electric car to your garage, make sure you have where to charge it, first, and then you might consider taking the Zoe for a test drive.
The Renault Zoe has received a maximum 5-star rating from Euro NCAP with 89 percent in Adult Occupant, 80 percent in Child Occupant, 66 percent in Pedestrian Safety and 85 percent in Safety Assist.
Renault Zoe ZEN Z.E.
Engine: electric motor
Power: 87 HP (65 kW)
Torque: 220 Nm (162 lb-ft)
Dimensions: length 4,084, width 1,730mm, height 1,562mm
Weight: 1,468 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: n/a
Trunk Capacity: 338L
Top Speed: 135 km/h
Tested Car: 23,970 EUR, VAT included
2.9 / 5