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First drive: Renault Zoe R135. Image by Renault.

First drive: Renault Zoe R135
Improved battery range and updated interior for Renaultís Zoe.

 



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Renault Zoe R135 Z.E.50

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

With more than 10,000 units sold in the UK since its introduction, the Renault Zoe is one of the most popular electric cars on sale. Now the model has come in for its most significant update yet, with a facelifted exterior and a new battery under its skin extending the driving range even further.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Renault Zoe R135 Z.E.50 GT Line
Pricing: Zoe range from £18,670 plus battery lease, £25,670 outright purchase
Engine: synchronous with rotor coil
Transmission: single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 0g/km (VED Band 0: £0 per annum in perpetuity)
Driving range: 240 miles (WLTP)
Top speed: 87mph
0-62mph: 9.5 seconds
Power: 135hp
Torque: 245Nm
Boot space: 338-1,225 litres

What's this?

It currently ranks as one of the most popular electric cars on sale in the UK. Now the Renault Zoe has come in for a host of updates to keep it at the sharp end of what is becoming a very competitive market. The styling of the car's exterior gets a tweak at either end, giving the Zoe a slightly more grown-up appearance. All models now get LED headlights contributing to what is a more sophisticated front-end design. A reshaping of the front fog lights tidies up the front bumper and, on GT Line models, the lower grille features a 'hot-stamped' design.

Better still is the update Renault has carried out to the interior of the Zoe. New materials on the dashboard help to reduce reflection against the windscreen - something we had previously criticised the Zoe for - and at the same time improve the perceived quality inside. One neat option lets owners specify a material made from recycled plastics and seatbelts. Most models get a seven-inch Easy Link touchscreen display, which can also run Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Stretching to the range-topping GT Line model gets you a larger 9.3-inch Easy Link portrait-style display that adds a touch more class to the Renault's interior. Either way, all Zoes will now feature a ten-inch digital instrument display. Although this feature is becoming increasingly common in modern cars, the graphics and layout in the Zoe mark it as one of the best out there.

Other nice touches include a conveniently placed wireless charging pad for your smartphone, located just below the new gear selector. Cruise control, LED headlights and air conditioning are standard across the range, as is the Chameleon Charger that can charge at up to 22kW. You will have to pay extra to upgrade to the 50kW CCS charger. Even though Renault has upped the battery pack to a 52kWh unit, the physical size of it hasn't changed; therefore, the passenger space is as it was previously. Though it may seem small from the outside, the Zoe is just a smidge larger than the Clio. It can accommodate five people at a push, but it's tight in the middle rear seat, so the Zoe is better suited to carrying four adults.

How does it drive?

To date, we've only had the opportunity to sample the more powerful R135 version of this latest Renault Zoe Z.E.50. That electric motor produces 135hp and 245Nm of torque, versus the R110 version that has power and torque outputs of 108hp and 225Nm respectively. The R135 is the quicker of the two from 0-62mph, taking 9.5 seconds, but perhaps the more significant figure is the improved acceleration from 49mph to 75mph, which now takes 7.1 seconds. We'd stop short of calling it a hot hatch, but outright acceleration away from the line aside, it feels reasonably nippy on the move.

You can sense how that large battery within the floor of the car affects the handling, too. Its steering remains light and there's a slight hint of understeer when you push a little too much. The Zoe delivers a faultless drive when staying in urban confines, though. The combination of modest-size wheels and compliant suspension delivers a mostly comfortable ride. We did find that the driving position was just a touch on the high side, and the lack of any seat height adjustment is annoying. At least the steering wheel can be set for height and reach. At speeds below 16mph, the Zoe emits quite an audible sound to warn pedestrians of its presence. It does seem almost as loud inside the cabin as it does outside, and when you're constantly hovering around its activation speed in slower traffic, it can start to get annoying.

Being able to cover up to 240 miles on a single charge (and up to 245 miles with less powerful R110) does seem entirely possible without much effort, and it's this fact above all others that makes the Renault Zoe such an appealing and relevant electric car right now.

Verdict

We still think Renault has missed a trick by not making the 50kW DC charger a standard item, as it does in other markets. That aside, this latest version of the Renault Zoe galvanises its status as one of the most relevant and complete electric cars on sale at present. Adding the 52kWh battery gives the Zoe enough driving range to rival several larger cars, while the design revisions inside and out add fresh appeal. Keen pricing and the option to lease the battery makes the Renault Zoe a compelling choice.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Dave Humphreys - 2 Oct 2019









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2019 Renault Zoe R125 ZE50. Image by Renault.2019 Renault Zoe R125 ZE50. Image by Renault.2019 Renault Zoe R125 ZE50. Image by Renault.2019 Renault Zoe R125 ZE50. Image by Renault.2019 Renault Zoe R125 ZE50. Image by Renault.








 

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