Renault ZOE review

The current Renault ZOE has a better interior and longer range than the original – but a low safety score comes as a surprise

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£29,995 - £31,995
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
VersionRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
R110245 miles8hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)N/a
R110 Rapid Charge245 miles8hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)56mins (10-80%, 50kW)
R135 Rapid Charge239 miles8hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)56mins (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 compete with more up-to-date rivals such as the MINI Electric and Fiat 500.

Thankfully, Renault did more than just facelift the ZOE in 2020. You'd have been lucky to see 100 miles per charge from the original, but now a much larger battery 52kWh battery ensures a range up to 245 miles. Plus, optional CCS rapid charging is available, making it easier to cover long distances. Range and charging weren't the only areas of drastic change, either. Renault also gave the ZOE a totally new interior, complete with tactile textiles and imitation leather made from recycled seatbelts and plastic bottles.

There are two motors to choose from: the R110 makes 107bhp for a 0-62mph time of 11.4 seconds, while the R135 has a beefier 134bhp, reducing the 0-62mph time to 9.5 seconds. Both have sprightly 0-30mph sprint times of under four seconds. The R110 is available in entry-level form without rapid charging, but you can also have this or the R135 with the CCS connection, which lets you to plug into 50kW public chargers that can add 90 miles of range in 30 minutes. All ZOEs 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 car in under nine hours.

The ZOE is 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 the jump in 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 glossy finishes, with a significant portion made from recycled materials

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 get the 9.3-inch colour touchscreen in the top-spec GT Line+ version. It’s a neat system that has all the features you’d want, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB radio, Bluetooth and two extra USB sockets in the rear.

There’s enough room to make this a great small family car, too. The five-door hatchback body offers good 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, but split-folding seat backs are standard across the range. A 338-litre boot with neat underfloor cable storage will also easily cope with a multitude of muddy football kits.

The ZOE seems expensive at first glance, but when you consider that the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e are very close to its price, while falling short when it comes to driving range, you realise that the Renault is still one of the most affordable ways into a small, pure-electric family car.

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 newer 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 ZOE, read on for the rest of our review...

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