Renault Zoe Electric Car - Quick Drive Review

This could be one of the most important cars to go on sale this year.

It isn't the fastest, nor the most practical, nor even the cheapest to run, all things considered. But priced alongside regular petrol and diesel rivals, the Renault Zoe is possibly the best attempt yet at an electric car by a major manufacturer.

Where the Zoe differs from Renault's previous electric cars is that it will integrate into many buyers' lives with very little compromise. As a supermini it competes in one of the busiest segments in Europe and for city-based buyers at least, will be all the car they need.

Renault Zoe rear

It performs much like its Clio sibling, albeit with a smoothness and silence that no combustion-powered Clio could ever hope to emulate. The gentle hum it emits as you waft down the road is far from intrusive and even quite soothing, the benefits of which cannot be understated in snarling traffic.

As you'd expect, the Zoe is at its element in the city, where a compliant ride and light, positive steering matter more than face-bending grip and incisive balance (of which it has neither), but neither chassis nor electric motor struggle too much on quicker roads.

Renault Zoe driving

The car's simplicity and relaxing nature extends to the car's controls and its interior as a whole. The indicators click away with a gentle echoing sound and the digital display is simple and neatly integrated into the dashboard.

The soft canvas-style seats are comfortable, if a little short on side support in quicker cornering, but combined with the light-coloured interior surfaces the Zoe strikes a perfectly-judged balance of soothing modernity.

Renault Zoe interior

You might even be proud to have it parked on your driveway. It's certainly prettier than the Nissan Leaf, every inch the chic French city car. Throw in some pearlescent paint and wonderfully intricate front and rear lights, and the effort Renault has put in to the Zoe is clear to see.

Price as tested: 13,650 approx. (plus 70/mth battery rental)
Range: 130 miles (official); 90 miles (warm weather); 60 miles (worst-case)
CO2: 0 g/km

Renault Zoe rear light

Conclusion

The most important question for most is whether the Zoe save you money. That's what we aimed to find out with our running costs report, compared to petrol and diesel Clios. With a minimum battery rental of 70 per month, it's a close-run thing.

But on a purely subjective basis, and faced with a daily commute, we'd choose the Zoe over its Clio counterparts. It's wonderfully relaxing and easy to drive, has a soothing interior ambience and finally puts the electric car within reach of normal buyers.

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