Renault Zoe (2013) Review

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Renault Zoe (2013) At A Glance

4/5
Honest John Overall Rating
If you like the idea of an EV - and have access to a petrol or diesel car for longer trips - then the Zoe is pretty much the best game in town at the moment. It's a stylish, chic and well detailed hatchback.

+Fun and easy-going driving experience, good ride quality, low running costs.

-Limited range in early cars, looks won’t appeal to everyone, still expensive to buy.

Insurance Groups are between 14–16

The Renault Zoe is the first electric car from the French brand to be sold all across Europe designed from the ground-up as an EV, and was created to compete with pure electric rivals like Nissan’s Leaf, the Smart EQ Forfour and a slew of new EVs like the Vauxhall Corsa-e and Peugeot e-208. The first generation was one of the first mass-produced EVs and is still a viable choice today, but the pace of battery tech moves quickly and the current generation model offers considerably better range and performance. As a first step into electric motoring however, the Zoe is a sensible and appealing choice.

Looking for a Renault Zoe (2013 on)?
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The Renault Zoe followed on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the Zoe was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

Indeed 60 patents have been filed during the development of the Zoe, with innovations to improve range and comfort. That partly explains the unusual looks of the original car; a small footprint makes it easy to drive and park in the city, but the slightly tall and bulbous body means plenty of space inside for people as well as making room for the electrical gubbins.

The original Zoe's electric motor produces 89PS and 219Nm, with a maximum range of 130 miles between charges. Most people won’t manage quite such a distance before needing to plug in with a realistic range of 90 miles in good conditions, which was pretty typical at the time but has since been exceeded by more modern designs. 

From 2020, the official range of the Zoe increased to 247 miles thanks to a new 52kWh battery, while Renault estimated a real-world range of 234 miles in the summer.

The increased range doesn’t come for free, but it does make it a much more viable proposition for a wider range of buyers. Add into that the significant increase in public charging points and in a few short years the Zoe has become a genuine alternative to petrol or diesel power in a way that it was not before.

Energy saving technology includes regenerative braking and a heater system that has no effect on the vehicle's range. Michelin Energy Saver EV tyres designed specifically for electric vehicles reduce rolling resistance and withstand the immediate torque delivery unique to electric motors. 

A new charger, called Chameleon, reduces battery damage and can, depending on the power output it's connected to, charge the car in just an hour. However you can't charge the Zoe from a standard household three-pin socket, so you really need a wallbox, although these are currently free to have installed.

On the plus side, neat technology fitted to the Zoe includes a 'voice' system that allows the otherwise silent car to be heard by pedestrians and R-Link, which allows drivers to access data and operate certain functions remotely from their phone. For example, charging can be turned on and off remotely. 

Ask Honest John

What's the best electric car to buy in 2021?
"What's the best electric car to buy in 2021?"
It depends on your requirements. Cars like the Skoda Citigo-e iV, Vauxhall Corsa-e and Renault Zoe are a great intro to electric vehicles. The Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf are good used choices. The Volkswagen ID.3 is a superb all-rounder, as is the Kia e-Niro and Tesla Model 3. Then there are premium electric SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz EQC and Audi e-tron.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Can you recommend a reasonably priced electric car?
"I'm hoping to help my grandson buy a used EV. Most of the journeys are local, with the occasional 200-mile trip. It's easy in my Renault Zoe, but can you advise on a suitable EV nearer the cheaper end of the used market? Thanks."
I suspect this journey will be a bit of a mission in an affordable used EV. You'll struggle to get much more than 80 miles out of a 24kWh Leaf - which'll mean many stops on that long trip. Something like a Hyundai Kona Electric could work, but you're not going to get much change from around £30,000. As a compromise, would your grandson consider a plug-in hybrid? A Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will have space for all the family and he'll be able to cover local journeys under electric power, with a petrol engine on hand for those longer trips.
Answered by Andrew Brady
With EVs, is age or mileage more important on a used model?
"I'm looking at a used electric vehicle. I would spend up to £9000, which bring five year old cars into range e.g. Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf. Can you advise whether the battery status is related to the number of times it has been charged or the age of the battery? Should I buy an older vehicle with less miles or a newer vehicle with more? And would you advise a leased battery or owned? I think the £90 per month for the Zoe seems a little steep. Many thanks."
It's more to do with how many times it's been recharged than the age. You'd be better looking for an older, low-mileage example. And yes, battery rental can be expensive, particularly if you don't cover many miles to offset the cost. An owned one would be a better option.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Should I buy an electric car if I don't have a home charger?
"I'm looking to sell on my current car soon and that leaves me in a strange situation. I want a practical, comfortable and interesting car, but I'm also not wanting to destroy the planet and want cheaper bills. At the moment, I spend £120-£150 a month just travelling to work. My commute daily is 23 miles each way, about two-thirds of this is on A roads or dual carriageways. I want to invest in getting an EV. With trade-in value and some cash, I have about £10,000 tops and I'm not wanting to go into finance deals. I also don't have a driveway to charge an EV. What would you suggest?"
I would not advise buying an EV if you do not have a place to charge it at home or at work. Your budget will get you a Nissan Leaf or Renault Zoe, but this will be the older models and (based on owner feedback) the real world range appears to be in the region of 90 miles. Given your long commute, I would recommend choosing a diesel. I know this isn't very interesting, but your budget will get you a crossover like the Honda HR-V. It's comfortable, practical and has a strong reputation for reliability: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/cars-for-sale/search/Honda/HR-V/?l=0&p2=10000
Answered by Dan Powell

What does a Renault Zoe (2013) cost?

Buy new from £26,500 (list price from £31,495)
Contract hire from £214.45 per month