Renault Zoe (2013) Review
Renault Zoe (2013) At A Glance
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.
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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.