Renault Zoe Review 2022

Renault Zoe 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.

New prices start from £29,895
Insurance Groups are between 14–22

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, 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 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 cars 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

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: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/guides/best-electric-suv/
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: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/real-mpg/
Answered by Andrew Brady
Is the Renault Zoe a safe car?
"Two weeks ago I ordered a Renault Zoe but today read it got zero stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests. After speaking to Renault UK they say the airbags and the braking system modification/omission is due to the lack of computer chips. I am very reluctant to buy a car that doesn’t have five-star safely in a crash and feel I should cancel this order. What do you think? Is there another small electric car with a high safety spec?"
There's an element of truth to what Renault's saying. The Zoe scored badly under the Safety Assist category – with Euro NCAP criticising its lack of features like automatic emergency braking and lane assist. Some of these will be introduced next year –which suggests it could be the chip shortage that is preventing them from being included now. Not having these features doesn't mean the Renault Zoe is fundamentally an unsafe car (structurally, it's no worse than the old model which scored five stars in less stringent Euro NCAP tests in 2013). If you want to consider an alternative, we'd recommend a Peugeot e-208 or Fiat 500 Electric. Both have been awarded four stars by NCAP but bear in mind that their standard specifications may have changed too.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What's the best second-hand electric car - Leaf or Zoe?
"I am thinking of buying a used electric vehicle. This will be my first electric car. Would you recommend a Nissan Leaf or a Renault Zoe?"
The answer will depend on which generation of Leaf and Zoe you are thinking of buying. There are two versions of the Nissan Leaf and multiple models of the Renault Zoe (all with varying range). The latest Leaf is very good and much better than the latest Zoe: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/nissan/leaf-2018/ If you are looking at the older end of the used EV market then I'd suggest buying a 2017 or newer Zoe with the Z.E.40 battery that has a 250-mile range.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Renault Zoe cost?