Renault Zoe Review 2024

Renault Zoe At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Renault Zoe is not the freshest or most exciting electric car on the block, but it's decent to drive, relatively affordable and has a longer range than many rivals in its latest form.

+Fun and easy-going driving experience, decent ride quality, cabin, range and performance all improved in 2019

-Very poor safety rating as a new car, limited range in early cars, not the roomiest EV

Insurance Groups are between 14–22

The Renault Zoe was the first electric car from the French brand to be sold all across Europe designed from the ground-up as an EV. Originally it competed primarily with Nissan’s Leaf, but today it lines up with a slew of new electric cars including the Smart EQ Forfour  Vauxhall Corsa-e and Peugeot e-208. Read on for our full review of the Renault Zoe E-Tech.

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, and one of the cheapest electric cars on the market.

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 were 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. It was also more powerful and better suited to longer journeys - although it remains a town-focused car. 

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. However you can't charge the Zoe from a standard household three-pin socket, so you really need a wallbox.

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 cars reduce rolling resistance and withstand the immediate torque delivery unique to electric motors. 

On the plus side, neat technology fitted to the Zoe included 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. 

By the time the Renault Zoe E-Tech was updated in 2019 it was facing a number of competitive rivals, including the Peugeot e-208 and latest Nissan Leaf. It's price stayed affordable and its interior improved substantially, but a damning verdict from safety Euro NCAP in 2021 did real harm to its appeal. Renault has upped its game with the Megane e-Tech Electric, but that's substantially more expensive.

Looking for a second opinion? Check out heycar's review of the Renault Zoe E-Tech.

Ask Honest John

Why are EV servicing costs so high?

"Just had my 2019 Renault Zoe serviced. Taken aback to be told it needs a routine 12V battery change and brake fluid replacement. Battery is £140 and brake fluid change £340 plus VAT. Told that specialist needed to isolate traction battery for safety - good idea. Add on routine service cost. Total £780. I understood EV ownership should be cheaper the ICE. I feel caught out, though Renault say brakes/battery good for four more years."
It is disappointing to hear of the expense of this service, although the need for specialist handling of some components would understandably mean somewhat increased costs. We would hope that over the longer term the relatively infrequency of servicing costs compared to an equivalent petrol or diesel car, combined with the cheaper cost of charging compared to fuel, would mean the savings will add up. You may also wish to consider having your Zoe serviced outside of the Renault dealer network if it is out of warranty. EV specialists are becoming more commonplace and should offer lower costs compared to main dealers.
Answered by David Ross

My Renault Zoe needs a new secondary battery - is this normal?

"At my 4 year service on a Renault Zoe, I was advised to replace a secondary battery, not the one which drives the engine. The staff could not explain why this was necessary. Can you advise please?"
While electric cars have large drive batteries that power the electric motors, just like conventional cars they also have a regular 12V battery that powers the ancillaries such as heating, audio and so on. Assuming this is the battery that requires replacing, it is not unusual for these to require replacing over time, although we would expect someone at the dealership to be able to explain why it required replacement.
Answered by David Ross

Can you recommend an electric car with a high seating position?

"I own a Renault Zoe but would like to change to a car with a higher driving position. My wife has an Isuzu D-Max which is perfect for me. Does such a combination exist? "
I think you might struggle to find an EV with a seating position as high as the D-Max. Something like a Volvo XC40 Recharge could be a good compromise, though. This guide could be useful:
Answered by Andrew Brady

Can you recommend a cheap used car?

"I own a five-year-old Kia Venga petrol. The best I get from this car is 44mpg. So, with fuel prices increasing, I am looking to swap my car for something that's more efficient or electric. Can you suggest some suitable used vehicles that are three or four years old?"
Would an electric car work? They're expensive but, if you can charge at home, you could soon recoup some of the initial outlay in fuel savings. A Renault Zoe or Smart EQ ForTwo (or ForFour) could be a relatively affordable option. Alternatively, consider a hybrid like the very efficient Toyota Yaris Hybrid. Or, if you cover a lot of motorway miles, don't dismiss a diesel. A diesel Renault Clio, for example, will be a very frugal choice. We'd recommend looking at our Real MPG data to find out what kind of fuel economy people see in the real world:
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Renault Zoe cost?