Renault ZOE electric motor, drive and performance
Tidy, grippy and uncomplicated handling make the Renault ZOE an easygoing, confidence-inspiring car in or out of town
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The Renault ZOE is offered with two motors: the R110 and the R135, making 107 and 134bhp respectively. We’ve driven the R110 and it’s fine around town, but can feel a bit gutless on the open road.
If you regularly do motorway stretches, the R135 is the better bet – especially since you have to go for this punchier motor to get CCS fast charging, which makes longer journeys easier.
Significantly updated suspension, steering and brakes mean this ZOE is usefully better to drive than before. It’s stable and confidence-inspiring – enough to make it fit for regular motorway miles. There’s plenty of grip if you want fun, although it always feels like a sensible steer regardless of how you drive it.
Renault ZOE electric motor, 0-62mph and acceleration
The R135 feels really peppy 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 a bit 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 easy to get used to, and easy 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 revised 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 updated 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' and will never be confused for one, it's also neat and responsive enough to feel at home on any sort of road.
A new, slim-rimmed steering wheel also makes the facelifted ZOE more pleasant to drive than before. 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
- 1VerdictA much-improved interior and bigger battery make the new 2020 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 costsA relatively low price, impressive efficiency and strong residual values bode well for the Renault ZOE here
- 4Electric motor, drive & performance - currently readingTidy, grippy and uncomplicated handling make the Renault ZOE an easygoing, confidence-inspiring car in or out of town
- 5Interior & comfortGenerous kit, a smart-looking touchscreen, clean dashboard design and tactile, sustainable materials make the Renault ZOE’s interior much better than before
- 6Practicality & boot spaceThe 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 & safetyAs long as you opt for the mid-range Renault ZOE Iconic specification or above, you get a good array of driver aids