The rear exterior of a blue Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe review

The Renault Zoe is one of the most affordable electric cars. The charging battery has enough charge for most commutes and feels really nippy to drive.

Pros

  • Affordable pricing
  • Range of more than 200 miles
  • Eye-catching and stylish design

Cons

  • It's not as spacious as rivals
  • It's less agile than other small cars
  • Some interior plastics look and feel cheap

Summary

“This is arguably the most affordable electric car and it’s a great choice, particularly as an urban runaround.”

The Renault Zoe looks distinctive inside and out with a more futuristic look than traditional superminis. It’s not the biggest inside, but there’s enough space for a family of four, while the standard equipment list is quite generous.

It’s smaller than the Nissan Leaf or the Kia Soul EV, which actually makes it a better size for short urban and suburban journeys.

The Zoe was introduced in 2013 and there have been numerous updates to the batteries and electric motor. There’s a choice of electric motors that all deliver an almost silent drive. Depending on the battery option, the Zoe will cover between 62 and 250 miles on a full charge.

It should be noted that early models of the Zoe were sold with a monthly battery leasing charge. This charge will still exist for these used Zoes but they’re likely to cost less. From 2015, Zoes were purchased with the batteries included in the price so all of these cars won’t be subject to this extra charge.

The side exterior of a blue Renault Zoe

What's the interior like?

“It’s roomier than you’d think, while its futuristic look adds to its appeal.”

The Zoe’s interior has been designed to look as futuristic as possible. The dashboard is minimalistic, with the seven-inch R-Link infotainment touchscreen and heating controls mounted on a ‘floating’ panel in the centre of the dashboard. In front of the driver is a thin digital strip that includes the speedometer and battery range indicator.

It’s an airy interior with plenty of bright colours used throughout. However, some of the plastics look and feel a little low cost. 

There’s loads of kit with even entry-level models featuring climate control and sat nav. More expensive models have added items such as parking sensors and an upgraded stereo.

The Zoe’s batteries are located in the floor under the front and rear seats, which results in a more spacious interior than you’d expect. Essentially it’s on a par with traditional models such as the Volkswagen Polo, with good head and legroom for passengers in the back.

The boot also boasts a useful 338 litre capacity, which is larger than models such as the Ford Fiesta and will comfortably hold a few suitcases.

Fascia shot of the Renault Zoe

What's it like to drive?

“Nippy acceleration and compact dimensions make the Zoe perfect for short journeys.”

The Zoe offers two electric motor options; the RE90 and the more powerful RE110. Both deliver brisk acceleration making them perfect for urban roads. With a single-speed automatic gearbox, the drive is seamless and almost silent.

Compact dimensions, light controls and the simple automatic transmission all make the Zoe easy to drive, particularly around town. The heavy battery reduces its agility through corners, but the Renault is competent and composed when driven sensibly.

Early cars were only available with a 22 kWh battery (known as the Z.E. 20), which gave a range of around 100 miles on a full charge. The 41 kWh (Z.E.40), which was made available in 2016, nearly doubled the range. So it’s important to make sure the car you buy suits your needs. 

Charging from a domestic three pin plug could take as long as 12 hours, but a domestic wall box charger reduces this time to around eight hours. Public charging points are much faster and can refuel the car in as little as three hours.

The front exterior of a blue Renault Zoe

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“It’s attractively priced and a recharge costs far less than filling up a petrol or diesel tank. Just make sure you factor in the battery lease option.”

On the face of it, the Renault Zoe is the cheapest four-seater electric car on sale in the UK. However, be aware that the lowest price models are subject to a battery leasing option, which means you'll need to pay an additional charge from £59 to £110 a month. All post-2015 Zoes are available with the batteries included in the price, so just make sure you know which one you’re getting.

Regardless of the battery option, charging the Zoe is relatively cheap, even with the more powerful version which costs less than £5 to charge from empty.

Servicing takes place once a year or every 18,000 miles while insurance costs are also low.

Gear stick shot of the Renault Zoe

How reliable and safe is it?

“It’s relative simplicity means the Zoe is dependable.”

The Zoe has consistently scored strongly in customer satisfaction surveys, with owners praising the cars impressive dependability and low running costs. Some drivers have reported transmission faults, but on the whole the car is extremely reliable.

When it was launched, the Zoe was awarded a five star Euro NCAP crash rating. It also has six airbags and a strong structure which means it should perform well in a crash.

Wheel shot of the Renault Zoe

Which one is best for you?

Best for economy - Dynamique Nav Z.E. 40 RE110

Best for families - Dynamique Nav Z.E. 40 RE110

Best for fun - Dynamique Nav Z.E. 40 RE110

If you can stretch to it, the Zoe with the 41 kWh battery pack and 107 hp motor is the best bet as it delivers both the strongest performance and the greatest range. In terms of trim level, there have been a few changes over the years, but the Dynamique Nav offers the best combination of equipment and price.

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