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First UK Drive: Renault Zoe R110. Image by Renault.

First UK Drive: Renault Zoe R110
Electric cars come little more useable or likeable than the long-range, high-power Renault Zoe.

 



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Renault Zoe R110

4 4 4 4 4

More distance on a single charge and a more powerful 'R110' motor make the Renault Zoe electric vehicle (EV) an even more appealing proposition now than it ever has been before. This is a hatchback daily-driver that feels like it could slot into your life with little hardship, and nor would it induce any range-anxiety flapping in its owner, so it has to be considered as a talented, credible alternative to your traditional light-pressure turbo petrol/turbodiesel supermini.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav R110 ZE40
Pricing: Zoe from 17,420 (including Government's current plug-in car grant), plus battery rental from 59pcm; Dynamique Nav R110 as tested 18,670
Engine: synchronous electric motor
Transmission: front-wheel drive, single-speed reduction gear
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 0g/km (VED band 0: 0 road tax annually)
Combined economy: WLTP temperate range 186 miles, winter range 124 miles
Top speed: 84mph
0-62mph: 11.4 seconds
Power: 107hp at 3,000-11,300rpm
Torque: 225Nm at 250-2,500rpm
Boot space: 338-1,225 litres

What's this?

A Renault Zoe. You should know what this is by now, as it has been on sale since 2012, its name a sort of contracted conflation of 'ZerO Emissions' - as Renault usually likes to call its full battery-electric (EV) products its 'ZE' range, but clearly thought a cutesy hatch needed a more appealing name than ZE so went for Zoe. Visually, it's the same car it has been since launch; a smoothed-off, futuristic-looking, cheeky little supermini that shares much technology with its group cousin, the Nissan Leaf, which remains the world's best-selling EV.

Since we last drove a Zoe, nothing has changed - this is still the 'long-range' version with the 40kWh battery, which means a theoretical maximum distance of 186 miles on a single charge (by WLTP measures). The cheaper 22kWh model soldiers on, but the main difference for this particular 40kWh version is that it has the more powerful 'R110' electric motor, rather than the 'R90' we tried last time out. This means 107hp and 225Nm outputs from the 79kW e-motor, rather than 92hp and 220Nm from the 68kW variant; enough to trim the Zoe's 0-62mph time from 13.5- to 11.4 seconds. The top speed remains the same, at 84mph.

Therefore, what you have is an attractive little machine that should make you feel all saintly and eco-conscious from behind the wheel, while offering the same sort of chic desirability and useful practicality as any other supermini. We happen to like the way it looks inside and out, as the funky, single-screen, digital instrument cluster detracts from the rather basic plastics swathing the cabin, while the exterior is unusual without being ugly. Nice Aconite paint, too... which, to you or us, means 'Deep Purple', so insert your own 'Smoke on The Water' gag here.

How does it drive?

The Zoe drives very pleasantly, although the first thing you've got to get used to - if you've never sampled this French EV - is that it makes a very low, yet haunting keening noise at slow speeds to warn pedestrians it's coming. This begins with a sort of distant 'boing!' sound and then whimpers away until you've got to about 20mph, at which point the car relies on wind disturbance/tyre chatter to let bystanders know it is moving. The eerie moans of the Zoe do take a little getting used to at first, but after a while they become second-nature, like background atmosphere samples in a big-budget sci-fi flick.

Other than that, the Zoe is very straightforward and pragmatic to drive. This R110 has a good dollop of torque on offer from almost the second you depress the throttle and, if anything, its quoted 0-62mph time feels somewhat cautious. There's plenty of zip from the car, especially to 31mph (manufacturers do this to make EVs feel really brisk for town acceleration, even if they're not that powerful overall), and out on open roads it doesn't get swamped by conventionally-powered vehicles. In fact, we even managed to pull off a few overtakes in the Zoe and it accomplished them with some swift aplomb.

The ride is compliant, the steering necessarily light and the body control is good, but nothing more, so the Renault performs rather well for both cruising and handling duties, albeit it is a long way from stellar in either department. The problem with EVs is that the lack of an engine noise at 60mph means you are even more acutely aware of the noises of both road rumble and aerodynamic progress, and as the Zoe is at the budget end of the EV spectrum then the sound-deadening on it is adequate, instead of exceptional. Not to worry; in and around urban areas, the Zoe's natural habitat, it's extremely peaceful and comfortable. Also, with our test routes taking in fast, flowing Cotswold roads, we have no reason to doubt Renault's claim of a 186-mile range from the Zoe, as the R110 covered a 25-mile circuit at a decent pace without using any significant amount of charge.

Verdict

The long-range battery fitted earlier in 2018 was the key to unlocking the Zoe's potential as a B-segment contender, but a little more power from the e-motor can't hurt its cause, either. Coming in at considerably less than 20,000 once the Government's plug-in car grant is factored in, this charming and excellent EV deserves to be on your shopping shortlist if you're looking for a laid-back, suburban run-around.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 6 Dec 2018









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2018 Renault Zoe. Image by Renault.2018 Renault Zoe. Image by Renault.2018 Renault Zoe. Image by Renault.2018 Renault Zoe. Image by Renault.2018 Renault Zoe. Image by Renault.

2018 Renault Zoe. Image by Renault.2018 Renault Zoe. Image by Renault.2018 Renault Zoe. Image by Renault.2018 Renault Zoe. Image by Renault.2018 Renault Zoe. Image by Renault.








 

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