Review: Renault Zoe Z.E. 40 (R110) Electric Car

In Car Reviews, Electric, Electric cars, Renault by Paul Beard

The Renault Zoe has been with us now for nearly six years and in that time has become one of the best loved and best selling electric cars in the UK.

Across Europe it has gained a rake of awards from motoring organisations and magazines. Car share schemes have snapped them up in their thousands, fleet operators love them, the Eden Project in Cornwall use them as part of their fleet of electric vehicles and I own a three year old one myself!

Last year, Renault announced a more powerful version of the longer range car that wouldn’t suffer from less mileage per charge than its sibling. At the same time, a brand new purple colour was introduced called Aconite; I was lucky that the car I tested came in this rather lovely hue.

The Dynamique Nav model that I borrowed came with a number of Zoe safety features like traction control, hill start assist, cruise control, auto lights and wipers. Other standard kit includes, Renault’s excellent R-Link infotainment system brought to you via a seven-inch screen, automatic climate control, leccy windows front and back and a leather steering wheel. Options here were the metallic paint, BOSE premium 3D sound system and some natty 17-inch alloy wheels and to finish the whole thing, the purple interior colour touch pack. Altogether this added £1500 to the base £18,420 price, which includes the Government grant. Don’t forget that you need to lease the battery separately and this varies in cost, depending on how many miles a year you do but starts at £59 per month. One other thing to consider when buying a Zoe, or any other electric car for that matter, is can you have the free wall box installed, i.e. is your property’s electrical system man enough for the job; also will the charging cable reach from the box to where you park the car.

Zoe isn’t the smallest city car around, it’s is about the same size as a Clio, but is however taller and thanks to the underfloor battery pack has a higher seating position, which coupled with a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach meant that I could get a comfy driving position; the driver’s seat also had height adjustment. The rest of the cabin is spacious and storage is good too. You don’t get any soft feel to the dash or console areas but at least the quality of plastics used is bearable and the whole layout is quite pleasing. A couple of niggles for me: the ECO button is to the left of the gear selector and would be better placed closer to hand, preferably on the steering wheel – if you go out of town or live in a hilly area, as I do here in South Devon, you switch between modes fairly often. Also, I feel the instrument cluster could do with being a bit bigger with larger typefaces for some readouts. Due to the car’s shape, head room was excellent all round and legroom in the back really good too. The boot space is vast for the size of the car, although the sound bar in the back of this one took up some room and the depth of floor may make removing heavier items a bit more arduous.

With a greater range, I took this Zoe for a longer journey than I would chance in my car and found it to be very comfortable and of course with the lack of noise in the cabin, you can hold a normal volume conversation with a passenger too. Regeneration of energy via braking is noticeably stronger than before – just be aware that if you are trying to recoup some power, you will slow down quite quickly when lifting off the gas, and vehicles behind may wonder what you’re doing. On the move the Zoe is fun to drive with light steering and a firm but never uncomfortable ride; bumps are soaked up well and because the centre of gravity is low, thanks to that underfloor battery pack, handling is really good and whilst body roll is noticeable, you don’t move about too much. Braking is one of the Zoe’s strong points and you hardly need touch the brake pedal to slow and a heavier prod really slows you down competently.

Power here is 108BHP and there’s a healthy 225Nm of torque; couple this with a single speed automatic and traction control and acceleration feels much quicker than the 11.4 seconds to 60 that Renault quote. If you want to have a bit of fun, and you’ve plenty of charge in the battery, take the car out of ECO mode at the traffic lights and when they change to green, see how quickly most cars disappear into the distance. However, they will catch you up due to the Zoe being a typical small electric car and not having a good top end. If you’re careful though, you should get up to 186 miles (WLTP) on a full charge, although in reality that figure will be less and will be affected by whether you have lights on, air con, stereo etc. In the winter, when batteries are affected by cold temperatures, and again the use of lights, wipers, heating come into play, you may be down closer to a hundred miles. Don’t be fooled into thinking that turning the heating off and wearing that full-length duffle coat, mittens and bobble hat will help either – you’ll be warm but the car still won’t be! Charging the Zoe from empty to 80% will take about 3 hours at home but if you go for the less powerful but quicker charging model (£750 premium) you can get that down to 65 minutes at a rapid charge point such as those at service stations – handy if time is a premium.

In summary, then, the award-winning Zoe is small but spacious, fun to drive and has zero tailpipe emissions. This R110 model with extra power makes for a more entertaining drive at no real expense in range.

However, if quick charging is more important than outright power, then go for the Q90 model. Either way, you’re guaranteed a great small car that introduces you to the world of pure electric motoring.

Car reviewed: Renault Zoe R110 iDynamique Nav On the road £24,020 (after government grant) Engine AC electric motor Power 107bhp at 3000-11,300rpm Torque 166lb ft at 250-2500rpm Gearbox direct drive 0-62mph 11.4sec Top speed 84mph Battery range 250/186 miles (NEDC/WLTP) CO2/tax band 0g/km,

Paul Beard


Paul Beard’s interest in cars started about 36 years ago when he bought his first motoring magazine. He has always been passionate about cars and motorsport ever since. Paul has been fortunate to own and drive a wide variety of cars. Ultimately he enjoys writing about them too.

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