Renault ZOE review
A much-improved interior and bigger battery make the latest incarnation of the Renault ZOE even better than before
- Smart interior with ethical materials
- Loads of equipment
- Long driving range
- Driving position could be better
- CCS fast charging is optional
- No AEB on lower trims
|Car type||Electric range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|Electric||245 miles||8hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)||1hr 10mins (10-80%, 50kW)|
Seven years after the launch of the original Renault ZOE, one of the first truly mainstream electric cars, Europe's most popular zero-emissions model was refreshed in order to be compete with more up-to-date competition such as the MINI Electric and Fiat 500.
Thankfully, Renault did more than just facelift the ZOE. You'd have been lucky to see 100 miles on a charge from the original model, but now with a much larger battery 52kWh battery, the ZOE has an official range of 245 miles. Plus, the option of CCS rapid charging is also available, making it easier than ever to cover long distances without having to stop overnight.
Range and charging weren't the only area of drastic change in the 2020 update. Renault also gave the ZOE a totally new interior finish, complete with tactile textiles and imitation leather made from recycled seatbelts and plastic bottles. There are two motor outputs to choose from: the R110 gets 107bhp and a 0-62mph time of 11.4 seconds, while the R135 gets a beefier 134bhp and a 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds, although both have sprightly 0-30mph sprint times of under four seconds.
You have to go for the R135 if you want CCS charging (in addition to the standard Type 2 charging), which comes at a cost of £750 and enables you to plug into the rapid chargers you find in motorway service stations, for a top-up of some 90 miles in 30 minutes. All cars come with a free 7.4kW home wallbox, provided you’ve got the off-road parking necessary to install it. This will fully charge the ZOE in under nine hours.
The ZOE is also tidy to drive, with well weighted (if light) steering that gives you confidence and makes easy work of awkward car parks – although a turning circle of nearly 11 metres could be better. Even on UK roads, ride comfort is fine, if a touch bouncy at times, but mostly you’ll be happy to sit back and enjoy the peppy performance and easygoing nature of the car. A ‘B’ mode ups the rather light standard regenerative braking effect and delivers a similar 'one-pedal-driving' experience to the Nissan Leaf’s e-Pedal.
The biggest improvement made by the 2020 update (after that jump in driving range) was in interior design and quality. Gone is the cheap-and-cheerful look of the old ZOE; in its place is a tactile combination of chunky textiles, leatherette and gloss-touch finishes, with a significant portion made from recycled seatbelts and plastic bottles.
Other than the annoyance of a driving seat that doesn’t have height adjustment, it’s a totally different feel to the pre-facelift car, particularly if you go for the 9.3-inch colour touchscreen that’s standard on the GT Line or optional on the mid-range Iconic. It’s a neat system that has all the features you’d want, including charging-point search, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB, Bluetooth and – on top-spec cars – wireless charging and two extra USB sockets in the rear. There’s enough room to make this a great small family car, too. The standard five-door hatchback body offers adequate access to the rear bench, which can take three kids at a push, even if they’ll be clashing elbows. It’s quite a high-set rear seat, too, and you have to go for mid-range spec or above to get split-folding seat backs. A 338-litre boot with neat underfloor cable storage will also easily cope with a multitude of muddy football kits.
The ZOE seems a tad expensive at first glance, but when you consider that the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e are very closely priced, yet neither offers the lengthy driving range of the ZOE, you realise that the Renault is still just about the most affordable way into a small, pure-electric family car.
Sure, if you really do stick to short hops in town, you should definitely consider dinkier and more basic alternatives like the Volkswagen e-up! and SEAT Mii Electric, since they cost less than £20,000 and still have a range of 160 miles. But the real joy of the ZOE is that it has all the comforts of a big electric car, just in a more affordable and compact package. Even with the influx of shiny new rivals, it deserves to retain its place as one of the most popular electric cars in the UK. For a more detailed look at the Renault ZOE, read on for our in-depth review...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingA much-improved interior and bigger battery make the latest incarnation of the Renault ZOE even better than before
- 2Range & chargingHard to fault here, given that the Renault ZOE has the best range in class, although standard CCS charging would be welcome
- 3Running costs & insuranceA relatively low price, impressive efficiency and strong residual values bode well for the Renault ZOE here
- 4Performance, motor & driveTidy, grippy and uncomplicated handling make the Renault ZOE an easygoing, confidence-inspiring car in or out of town
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortGenerous kit, a smart-looking touchscreen, clean dashboard design and tactile, sustainable materials make the Renault ZOE’s interior much better than before
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe ZOE's rear seats aren't the most comfortable in the class, but they're good enough for shorter journeys, while the boot is usefully deep
- 7Reliability & safety ratingAs long as you opt for the mid-range Renault ZOE Iconic specification or above, you get a good array of driver aids