Renault Zoe (2013-2019) review
The Renault Zoe is a small all-electric car that has stylish looks and cheap running costs but you’ll need to decide who owns its batteries – you or Renault – before you buy
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The Renault Zoe is one of the very best electric cars on sale today. It has funky styling, a decent range of 180 or so miles in everyday driving and for an electric car it is relatively cheap to buy.
That low price was key to it winning the Eco Car Award at the 2018 carwow awards. But, the judges were also impressed by the range and performance on offer from its recently uprated electric motor.
It’s not quite as straightforward as buying a traditional car, however, as you have to decide whether you want to own or lease the car’s batteries. And as battery technology develops, larger electric cars with bigger ranges may prove to be more practical.
The Renault Zoe first went on sale in 2012, and it has had a series of tweaks to its batteries and motors since then. In 2018 a new R110 electric motor was introduced that offered the Zoe with more power but the same range as the previous car.
The Renault Zoe interior looks bang up to date and comes with plenty of technology such as a TFT display instead of dials and touchscreen infotainment system.
Passenger space is decent, if not as much as in petrol-powered alternatives such as the Honda Jazz. The boot, though is quite big despite having to accommodate the batteries.
The Zoe is a bargain electric car with a such a lovable face. Don’t be fooled by its cutesy looks though - floor the accelerator and this baby flies.
Driving the Renault Zoe is typical electric car fare – press the start button, stick the gear lever in D, press the right pedal and whoosh… off you go. A concern with the Zoe fitted with the older motor was that the car felt underpowered on the motorway. But this is not the case with the Zoe R110. It accelerates quickly and holds its own in fast flowing traffic.
The electric drive system in the Renault Zoe is too complicated to go into much detail but what you need to know is battery charging takes from one hour to just over eight hours depending on the batteries in the car and the charging facilities you use.
When compared with a similar sized petrol powered car, the Renault Zoe looks expensive, but compared with other electric cars it is one of the cheapest. And you do get plenty of kit as standard such as Renault’s R-link multimedia system, climate control, Bluetooth phone connection and electric windows.
There are two trims available Dynamique Nav and Signature Nav. You also choose between the higher powered R110 model, or the lower-powered Q90 that comes with fast charging batteries. You can also choose between buying or leasing the batteries.
When you buy a Renault Zoe you’ll also get a domestic charging point fitted in your home included in the price. Also, if decide to lease the battery, you’ll also get 24/7 roadside assistance – even if you are left stranded when you run out of charge.
So if an electric car suits your lifestyle then the Renault Zoe is one of the best there is.
To see what sort of offers are available, take a look at our Renault Zoe deals page.
The Renault Zoe is a pretty small car, but because the batteries are under the cabin floor, there’s plenty of room inside and in the boot. However, it could do with some more cubbies
Picking the upgraded Bose stereo is good news and bad news. On the one hand, it sounds great, but on the other, the amplifier takes up a lot of the boot
The Renault Zoe boasts more than enough room for four adults. Its high roofline offers acres of headroom and legroom is impressive for a small car, too. Pack three friends in the back seats and they’ll be treated to reasonable shoulder room.
There are a number of storage spaces dotted around the Renault Zoe cabin but you’ll struggle to fit much more than a pair of sunglasses in the glovebox. The door bins are deep but narrow and even the largest cupholders will struggle to hold anything wider than a small coffee.
The Renault Zoe’s batteries are safely stashed beneath the cabin floor so its boot capacity is unaffected. Its 338-litre load bay is larger than the Clio and it’s surprisingly practical as a result. Fold the rear bench down and you’ll open up a capacious 1,225 litres of space.
Pick a Signature Nav model with the upgraded Bose sound system, however, and you’ll find a giant black amplifier takes up a significant amount of room in the back.
The Renault Zoe is an absolute hoot to drive, but as the fun levels go up, the range will go down
The Renault Zoe is easy to drive, but it won't set your hair on fire
More power and range, or fast-charging ability – those are your options when you buy a Renault Zoe.
The Zoe R110 produces 108bhp, and can zoom from 0-30mph in under four seconds – ideal for zipping around city streets. It has a top speed of 84mph and covers 0-62mph in under 12 seconds. This means that it’s fine for the motorway too – it manages to keep up in fast traffic with no problem.
Charging the batteries from empty to full at home takes just over seven hours. And at a 43kW charge point you can charge the batteries from empty to 80% in 1h 40m.
If you go for the slightly more expensive Q90 you sacrifice some power – it has 88bhp – for the ability to cut your charging time at a fast charge point. It takes just over an hour to go from 0 to 80%. Confusingly, it takes longer to charge at home than the R110 car, however.
As is the case with all electric cars, you’ll need to carefully plan your journey before you set off to make sure you’ll not be left stranded by the side of the road without enough juice to get home. The Zoe’s official range is an impressive 250 miles, but the Renault suggests 186 miles is a more achievable real-world figure for the R110, and 174 miles for the Q90.
It’s important to note that driving during very cold weather with the heater and headlights on could reduce the Zoe’s range by as much as 62 miles.
Its stiff suspension and special tyres with low rolling resistance mean the Renault Zoe rides a little more firmly than most rivals. On rough roads it never really settles down and even fairly small potholes can send an unpleasant jolt through the cabin.
A regenerative braking system that uses the electric motor to both slow the car and re-charge the batteries can feel a little grabby at times, but overall the Renault Zoe is a smooth and relaxing car to drive – especially around town.
Its trump card is its ability to cruise along in almost complete silence. Where your average petrol or diesel engine could feature thousands of rapidly spinning components, the Zoe’s electric motor features just one moving part. As a result, it produces no nasty vibrations or unsettling clunks and goes about its business with little more than a distant hum.
Its eerily silent driving habits mean you’re slightly more aware of wind and road noise than you might be in a conventional hatchback. Besides a faint whistling at motorway speeds, however, it never feels unrefined and you’ll be able to hear every complaint from bored kids in the back seats.
Hi-tech displays and slick start-up sequences emphasis the point you’re in a ultra modern electric car