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First Drive

First Drive: Renault Zoe

New Renault Zoë
The story: Renault has revised its Zoe electric supermini, adding more range, improved interior and subtle styling tweaks for the latest version, designed to take on a raft of new electric small cars.
Key rival:Peugeot e208
Price:£32,940 (before £3000 Govt. grant)
Efficiency:238 miles
On sale:Now

This is the second significant upgrade to Renault’s electric Zoe model since its 2012 launch, and it comes at a time when brands including Peugeot, Vauxhall, Mini and Honda are bringing new models into a supermini sector that Renault previously had to itself.

The key upgrade is to the Zoe’s range, which jumps by around 30% to an official figure of between 238-245 miles, depending on which of the two electric motors and which trim level are chosen. That compares with a range of 186 on the outgoing Zoe, and is significantly higher than the newer breed of electric supermini, with Peugeot’s e208 next best at 211 miles. And in our experience that range figure translates to more than 200 miles with four people on board, helped by the new ‘B’ setting where the driver can select a brake mode to increase energy regeneration when lifting off the accelerator pedal. It slows the car nicely, allowing largely one-pedal progress, and is selected via a new gear level sitting ahead of the new electric handbrake.

The Zoe now comes with a choice of two electric motors, the carryover R110 model and a new R135, with the latter boasting a 0-60mph acceleration time of 9.5 seconds, almost two seconds quicker than the less potent motor. The middle Iconic trim level is the only one where both motors are offered, with the more potent of the two carrying a £500 premium.

First Drive, June 2020-Renault Zoe-Image 1Other changes coming with this Zoe update include what Renault describes as “bolder” nose and tail lamps, as well as a redesigned interior with updated infotainment, better ergonomics and improved materials, as well as a new TFT instrument cluster.

For the sector, the cabin and luggage space are both excellent, with plenty of space for four passengers and a hefty 338-litre boot that comfortably outpoints all the car’s rivals of a similar size.

The more potent of the two electric motors is quick at take-off, as is the case with electric cars, although the acceleration strength does fade away as the speed increases. But it’s not a sporty drive, despite the acceleration, and the light steering is fine for urban manoeuvres, but feels artificial and too light at higher speed.

All cars get Renault’s excellent keyless entry system, and the top GT Line spec gets a 9.3-inch touchscreen rather than the standard 7.0-inch fitted to the other trim levels.

The Zoe still stands out as a little quirky from a styling perspective, and it’s got strengths in terms of its range and practicality versus imminent small electric models such as the Peugeot e208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e.


paul barker

The verdict

Improved range is welcome and Renault has combined that with a series of minor upgrades that help keep the Zoe in the mix against a raft of new small electric hatchback rivals.