Renault ZOE review: performance, motor & drive
The Renault ZOE provides smooth and satisfactory performance, but offers little in the way of driver engagement
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The Renault ZOE is only offered with one, front-mounted electric motor. This offers plenty of pep – especially in the 0-30mph range – and is ideal for around-town driving. Significantly updated suspension, steering and brakes mean this ZOE is usefully better to drive than the original model, too. It’s stable and confidence-inspiring which is enough to make it fit for regular motorway miles. There’s plenty of grip if you want to have some fun, although it never goads you into tackling a twisty road the same way an MG4 does.
Renault ZOE 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
The Renault ZOE’s 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds may not seem that impressive, but it feels really punchy at low speeds and launches off the line with the trademark zeal and gear-free acceleration of most electric cars. It even picks up just fine for the occasional overtake or to keep up with faster motorway traffic. There's an ‘ECO’ mode, which neuters throttle response quite drastically and makes things feel dull and restrained, so if you don’t need to eke the range out, then leave it in the standard mode.
The ‘B’ mode ups the rather subtle standard regenerative braking, to the point where you can drive it on one pedal alone in slow town traffic – although the effect isn't quite as aggressive as the Nissan Leaf’s 'e-Pedal'. The way it bleeds in smoothly as you lift off the accelerator makes it much easier to get used to, though, and effortless to judge how quickly the car will stop and whether you need to use the brake pedal or not.
That standard brake response has also been tweaked; it's now more progressive and makes the current ZOE a bit easier to drive smoothly than its predecessor.
The ZOE has always felt more suited to town driving, with bigger alternatives like the Leaf feeling a bit more grown-up and more appropriate for the motorway. The latest Renault has closed the gap between the two – it now feels more planted and confidence-inspiring at motorway speeds.
It’s also now sweeter-handling around town and on twisty roads, so while the ZOE is most certainly not a 'warm hatch' like the MINI Electric, it's neat and responsive enough to feel at home on any sort of road.
A new, slim-rimmed steering wheel makes the ZOE more pleasant to drive than before, too. Ride comfort is good, even on UK roads. It bobs about a little over faster undulations and pitches noticeably under braking, but the soft ride is exactly what you want of an easygoing commuter car like this.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe cutesy-looking Renault ZOE remains a solid small electric car pick thanks to its hi-tech cabin and strong range, although it’s missing several important safety and charging features
- 2Range & chargingThe Renault ZOE offers strong range for an electric supermini, however we wish it came with DC rapid charging a standard
- 3Running costs & insuranceAlthough more expensive to buy than a comparable petrol Renault Clio, the ZOE offers rock-bottom running costs
- 4Performance, motor & drive - currently readingThe Renault ZOE provides smooth and satisfactory performance, but offers little in the way of driver engagement
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe Renault ZOE has a well-appointed interior and comes with a large array of standard equipment
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe Renault ZOE is sufficiently spacious for supermini standards, but other EVs offer greater practicality
- 7Reliability & safety ratingThe ZOE has sold in big numbers and proved to be reliable, but a zero-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in late 2021 came as a shock