In-depth reviews

Renault ZOE review

A much-improved interior and bigger battery make the latest incarnation of the Renault ZOE even better than before

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£29,295 - £33,795
Fuel Type:
Electric

Pros

  • Smart interior with ethical materials
  • Loads of equipment
  • Long driving range

Cons

  • Driving position could be better
  • CCS fast charging is optional
  • No AEB on lower trims
Car typeElectric rangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
Electric245 miles8hrs 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...

Most Popular

Best plug-in hybrid SUVs 2021
DS 7 Crossback E-TENSE
Best cars

Best plug-in hybrid SUVs 2021

A good plug-in hybrid SUV should combine low running costs with excellent practicality. These are some of the best on sale right now
8 Apr 2021
Best electric SUVs 2021
Kia e-Niro
Best cars

Best electric SUVs 2021

Our selection of the best electric SUVs you can buy features cars that promise to mix style, practicality and rock-bottom running costs
8 Apr 2021
Longest range electric cars 2021
Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3
Best cars

Longest range electric cars 2021

The range of electric cars is continually improving. Here are the top 10 models with the longest range on a single charge
8 Apr 2021

More on ZOE

Used Renault ZOE Mk1 buying guide
Used Renault ZOE
Renault ZOE

Used Renault ZOE Mk1 buying guide

All the information you need to know when buying a secondhand Renault ZOE Mk1, produced between 2013 and 2019
29 Jan 2021
Discover Renault's 100% electric ZOE
Sponsored

Discover Renault's 100% electric ZOE

Makes switching to electric an easy choice
30 Jul 2020
Renault ZOE van launched with 245-mile range
Renault ZOE

Renault ZOE van launched with 245-mile range

New electric Renault ZOE van joins maker’s zero emissions commercial vehicle range
17 Jul 2020
Renault ZOE (2013-2019) review
Renault ZOE

Renault ZOE (2013-2019) review

The Renault ZOE looks great, has a long range and is golf-cart-easy to drive, making it a great first electric car
17 Dec 2019
New Renault ZOE 2019: specs, prices and on-sale date
Renault ZOE

New Renault ZOE 2019: specs, prices and on-sale date

New Renault ZOE is on sale now, priced from £25,670, but battery leasing will not be offered
4 Sep 2019
Renault ZOE S Edition launched
Renault ZOE

Renault ZOE S Edition launched

BOSE stereo and reversing camera among standard kit on new trim level
30 Jan 2019