Thanks to its heavy battery pack, the Zoe tips the scales at a fairly portly 1,480kg – approximately 400kg more than a Clio. Tucking all these Duracell bunnies under the floor means is weight is more evenly distributed than a conventional petrol or diesel car and, as a result, it handles with surprising composure.
The Zoe’s compact electric motor produces 92hp – slightly more than a 1.5-litre diesel Clio. This might not sound particularly noteworthy but its fair 184lb ft torque figure means it’ll pull away briskly and reach 30mph from rest faster than most petrol or diesel rivals.
Powering on to 62mph takes a more leisurely 13.5 seconds, however, and it’ll struggle to keep up with faster motorway traffic. If you’re looking for an autobahn-storming brute, the Zoe isn’t really the car for you.
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 French firm suggests 186 miles is a more achievable real-world figure.
The Zoe is easy to drive, but it won't set your hair on fire
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. Entry-level models with a smaller battery pack are limited to a less usable 106 miles real-world range in summer and as little as 72 miles in colder conditions.
Charging the Zoe to 80 per cent capacity can take as little as 65 minutes using fast changing points. If you plan to plug your car in at home using the free wall charger, a complete serving of electrons can take as long as eight hours.
If you’re worried about taking longer journeys, a quick half-hour pitstop at a service station charging point is enough to boost your range by approximately 25 miles.
Its stiff suspension and special tyres with low rolling resistance mean the 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 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.