Renault Zoe Review
The electric car that doesn't shout about it: Renault's Zoe is chic and smooth, with a big battery
Strengths & weaknesses
- Zero tailpipe emissions
- Quick from a standing start
- Official range only 186 miles
- Not the best EV interior
- Extra cost of leasing battery
Renault Zoe prices from £6,250 Finance from £160.60 per month
The Zoe has evolved since its launch in 2013, with Renault introducing upgrades to the battery pack (increasing it from the original 22kWh to 41Kwh now) and the electric motor.
These changes have also resulted in an increased range: changes in how the range is calculated – a switch from the old lab-based NEDC testing regime to the new WLTP one that focuses more on real-world use – have muddied the waters slightly, so a former claim of 250 miles is no longer valid, but the current estimate of 186 miles is more realistic and still an achievement.
However, Renault still offers buyers a choice between a higher-powered Zoe (110PS) and a 90PS version that takes less time to charge on the kinds of 43kW rapid chargers that are now popping up at motorway service stations, so for buyers who do tend to take longer trips, relying on public charging, this is a better option.
The Zoe is smooth, quiet and responsive to drive. It’s powerful, too, capable of staying with fast-moving motorway traffic (although this does have a major impact on the available range). In short, it’s like driving any well-sorted car, especially if your main use is in and around urban environments. The quietness of an electric motor also creates a sense of relaxation when driving, which palpably eases many of the stresses of modern driving.
Design-wise, the Zoe is a stylish and modern-looking hatchback, its rounded surfaces and form exuding a cute character. The interior design is simple, to the point of being a little spartan, but the digital instrument panel and 7-inch central display are straightforward and usable.
At least the use of batteries doesn’t come at the expense of interior space. There is plenty of head and legroom, front and rear, and the boot is actually larger than the one found in the Renault Clio. It's a few litres smaller than the e-Golf and few litres greater than the Kona Electric, so there’s not much to choose between the three models – although the Leaf’s is significantly bigger (by almost 100 litres, in some instances).
The Zoe is well equipped, too, especially in the cheaper Dynamique Nav trim, with a few extra niceties in the more expensive S Edition trim. You can buy your Zoe and battery as one, or you can lease the battery separately. Lease rates are linked to your anticipated mileage, but start at around £59 a month (for those with an annual mileage of 4,500 miles), rising to £110 for those who want unlimited mileage.
|Four years/100,000 miles
|£0 in the first year and £0 thereafter
Best Renault Zoe for...
Best for Economy – Renault Zoe ZE 40 R110
The higher-powered Zoe also has the greater range of the two variants, with an official 186 miles.
Best for Performance – Best for performance: Renault Zoe ZE 40 R110
The Zoe variant with the newer electric motor also has the higher output (110PS, compared to the Q90 ZE 40’s 90PS), which enables it to hit 62mph form a standing start in 11.4 seconds.
March 2012: Renault Zoe unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.
June 2013: First UK deliveries.
June 2015: Upgraded R240 motor introduced that increases the Zoe’s official range from the previous Q210 motor from 130 miles to 150 miles (under NEDC laboratory testing).
November 2016: New ZE 40 41kWh battery introduced that increases NEDC range to 250 miles, which is reduced to 186 miles when new WLTP testing regime is introduced.
February 2018: Upgraded R110 motor introduced to the range that offers 110PS output.
January 2019: Signature Nav models replaced by S Edition
Understanding Renault Zoe names
Engine R110 ZE 40
There are two engine variants: the R110 ZE 40 has a 110PS output, while the quicker-to-charge Q90 ZE 40 has a lower 90PS output. PS is a measurement of metric horsepower, commonly referred to as HP or BHP.
Trim Dynamique Nav
Buyers can choose from Dynamique Nav and S Edition trim levels: the latter offers slightly more equipment as the former, but at a higher price.
Renault Zoe Engines
Q90 ZE40, R110 ZE40
The Zoe has two variants, both of which use Renault’s latest 41kWh battery pack.
The Q90 ZE 40 combines this battery pack with a 90PS electric motor that is less powerful and slower than the alternative, and also has a slightly lower range of 174 miles. However, it does offer the advantage of being able to charge quicker on 43kW rapid chargers (which are now common at motorway service stations), obtaining an 80% charge in 65 minutes. This is perhaps the best option for EV drivers who undertake longer journeys that require the use of such public chargers.
The more powerful R110 version has a more advanced motor that can produce an output of 110PS, which shaves 2.4 seconds off the 0-62mph time and has an official range of 186 miles. Charging at a 43kW rapid charger does take longer, though, with an 80% charge taking 100 minutes.
Both variants do feel quick from a standing start, in line with all EVs, but the Zoe can’t sustain that initial pace as long as rivals such as the Volkswagen e-Golf or the Hyundai Kona Electric. They are equally smooth and quiet, though, making them both relaxing to drive.
R110 ZE 40
Q90 ZE 40
Renault Zoe Trims
Dynamique Nav, S Edition
There are just two trims for Zoe buyers to choose from.
The base (but well-equipped) Dynamique Nav includes a hands-free keycard with push button start/stop function, automatic lights and wipers, rear parking sensors, cruise control, climate control, 7-inch R-Link Evolution entertainment system with voice-controlled TomTom sat nav and Android Auto compatibility (but not Apple CarPlay), electric windows, electric folding mirrors, LED Daytime Running Lights and leather-covered steering wheel.
S Edition models add a BOSE stereo, (which includes DAB radio), a rear parking camera, and lumbar adjustment for the driver. Customer can choose 16-inch alloy wheels or, at no additional cost, they can upgrade to larger 17-inch ones.
Renault Zoe Reliability and warranty
The Zoe does not show up in the Auto Express Driver Power survey, as it doesn’t sell in high enough members for owner feedback to register. Renault doesn’t do well in the league table of brands, registering as second from bottom.
The good news is that electric cars have far fewer moving parts than conventional petrol and diesel cars, so reliability should be better, as there’s less to go wrong.
Renault’s four-year warranty augurs well, too, with the industry-standard 100,000-mile cover. However, it is bested by the Hyundai Kona Electric, which has five years of cover that includes roadside assistance and health checks.
Used Renault Zoe
The Zoe has been on sale for a few years and, despite EVs not making massive inroads into overall car sales, there are quite a few used examples that can be picked up for reasonable prices.
Signature Nav models were replaced in January 2019. They have leather upholstery, heated front seats, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, rear parking camera and driver’s seat lumbar adjustment.