For a decade now French vehicle manufacturer Renault have been at the forefront of electrification with its city car named Zoe.
Not long after it was launched, I recall a deal being put on the table which was something like £150 deposit, followed by £150 per month including a free home charging port.
For many commuters doing something in the region of 70 miles per day, this was a deal not to be sniffed at. In fact, when buying a diesel car from a friend who had just taken out a lease on a Renault Zoe, he essentially halved his monthly motoring outgoings by switching.
Range wasn’t great 10 years ago for the little Renault, especially in winter, when as little as 80 real world miles could be expected from a full charge. None the less, Zoe ticked many boxes, for many people and she fulfilled her duties with ease and calm.
With no real rivals for quite a number of years, Zoe has quite the trophy cabinet. Now with stiff competition from the likes of Mini, Fiat and Honda, who all have small electric vehicles in their fleet, can the latest French fancy, retain its crown?
Quite possibly, yes. As with a claimed 245-mile range and a major overhaul in the last couple of years bringing its design and technology up to date, it remains a firm favourite in this small EV category.
As with everything in the world, its price has increased, significantly. Starting from a fiver shy of £30,000 if buying outright, monthly deals start from £314 which is considerably cheaper than the Honda e, but similar to the Mini and Fiat 500.
Having scored a safety rating of zero on its most recent Euro NCAP test, the Renault Zoe is not as safe as its rivals. But that does not mean that it is not safe, Zoe comes with various vital elements of safety equipment as standard.
The buying process could not be simpler, with just two trim levels available. Starting from £29,995 a ‘TECHNO’ features 16-inch alloy wheels, park assist/hands free parking and automatic climate control along with a 9.3-inch infotainment screen with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Cruise control, lane keep assist and a reverse parking camera add safety, while heated front seats and steering wheel add comfort in the cabin. A total of 3 ISOFIX mounting points along with automatic lights and wipers and keyless entry add convenience.
Priced from £31,995 is the ‘ICONIC’ which adds CCS charging capability from a 50kW DC rapid charging point, as well as 17-inch alloy wheels and a splatter of gold stickers on the outside with gold stitching on the interior.
Automatically driven, the electric motor produces the equivalent of 135hp which will see you from 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds, with a top speed of 87mph.
Feeling potent around town, Zoe will comfortably cope with a commute. And, for those needing to venture further afield, the ability to rapid charge is vital on the top trim level, a full charge achievable in less than 90 minutes.
With an unreliable charging infrastructure in Northern Ireland, you can forget about ownership here unless you have a suitable means to charge via a wall box at home. Where a full charge can be achieved in under 10 hours.
Having owned a Renault in the past, I always found their seating position to be very high, and this has not changed with the latest Zoe. It is still comfortable and surprisingly spacious for occupants.
Luggage space in the boot is more than adequate for a car of this size and with the rear seats folded flat this little Renault is more than capable of a few dump runs.
Speaking of rubbish, this Zoe features an abundance of parts around the cabin which are made from, and enhanced by, recycled materials. It looks and feels much more pleasant than that description, I must admit.
Renault offers a 5-year/100,000 mile warranty, whilst the battery is covered for 8-years/100,000 miles.
Words and Photos: GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY
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