Is the new Renault Zoe the best EV money can buy?
There's no denying the fact that when you think of an electric vehicle, you probably jump straight to the Tesla Model S, X or 3. That's because Tesla are a known brand for making superb (ish) electric vehicles which don't always cost the earth to own (I'm talking Model 3 here, the rest are rather.. expensive). Behind all of that, Renault have been making electric cars for some time, improving on every new generation and making them cost effective to own and cheap to run.
All hail then, the brand new Renault Zoe - an affordable (£21k base) and range happy (180miles easily between charges - trust me you'll see more) electric vehicle for every walk of life. With an average cost of 3p per mile (to charge) and a full range in under 2 hours.. is the Zoe the EV to show the big boys what matters? Can it finally make the transition easier for people to move from combustion to electric?
Range anxiety isn't really a thing anymore..
When I drove a first generation Nissan Leaf, I spent more time looking at how fast my battery was going down than the road. Seriously, it was surprising how far from the truth Nissan had made their economy claims. Fast forward a couple of years to a bigger capacity version and I was still watching.. but less. Now you'd see 100 miles from a charge, instead of 50 miles - but the range anxiety was still there for me.
The new Renault Zoe kind of changed things for me, really it was the first time I drove an EV without even a consideration of range. 180 miles was easily achievable, I then heard from owners they were seeing 250+ miles per charge - owners that had changed over from small city cars to these.. because the range was so superb it was like owning an ICE (internal combustion engine).
I drove to multiple gigs without planning where to charge, I only used Ecotricity once (at an Ikea) because it was there - not because I really needed it. I couldn't plug in at home, but my local Sainsbury's (other shops are available) had free chargers. Pop in, do your shopping, come back to an extra 40% of charge.. easy peasy.
The interior really lets the car down..
Considering how space age and design happy the exterior is, I was saddened to find out the interior hasn't really changed since the first Zoe some time ago. It's not a horrific place to be, it's comfortable and hard wearing with plastics all over (some leather trim is optional) - but you expect so much more from Renault. The Bose sound system was powerful, punchy, had great speaker placement and genuinely was lovely to listen to music through - the only draw back is the amp in the boot.. it takes away some luggage space - not good for fitting my own bass amp in really.
Asides from that slight issue with the interior, it was quiet and comfortable. The driving position was great for city driving but became slightly uncomfortable on longer runs - but that's not what this is made for. Surround view meant parking was easy and really.. it's a superb city car in almost every way.
The performance is face meltingly fast..
That's right, the Zoe isn't a slow thing. While it might be limited to 84mph, it gets there pretty quickly. The main portion of the power is at the beginning, all of the torque.. instantly.. as soon as you command it. Sadly, soon after the initial boost you feel the weight of the car slowing you down - but this isn't a £75,000 Tesla Model S P85D so why should that matter?
Pulling out you have more than enough nip to get up to speed before the BMW not indicating gets up behind you to tailgate (because an Audi is tailgating them). Equally at the traffic lights, you can for a moment leave a new Fiesta ST.. seriously I'm not joking.
Simply put, the new Renault Zoe is a superb vehicle. Not only comfortable and safe but returning great range, not costing the earth to run and not looking too weird - it looks like a Clio from the future. As a family car, it would be great - bundles of boot space and ISOFIX, plus the kids will love the spaceship noises the Zoe makes around town. As an every day car, it's easy - no range anxiety, no huge costs to initially purchase / lease and the charging infrastructure is always improving.
Once charging is fast enough.. I'd even consider an electric car.
Summary: great car, great price - allowing ICE drivers to finally move over to EV without worries.