First UK drive: Renault Zoe
Renault has updated its Zoe with a new Z.E.40 battery, meaning it now boasts a real-world range of up to 184 miles. AOL Cars has tried out the new model to see how it compares with rivals such as the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq Electric.
What is it?
The Zoe is effectively the two-seat Twizy's bigger and more usable sibling. With five seats, a good-sized boot and an impressive real-world range, the Zoe is one of the most realistic fully electric cars currently on sale.
It also qualifies for the full £4,500 government plug-in car grant, meaning the Zoe starts at just £14,245, although that doesn't include the monthly battery hire fee which you have no choice but to pay.
What's under the bonnet?
Our test Zoe was fitted with Renault's R90 electric motor, which develops 91bhp and 220Nm of torque. It is not all that fast, taking 13.3 seconds to do 0-60mph and only has a top speed of 84mph - much less than conventional cars.
The Zoe is predominantly meant to be a town car, and that's where most buyers will spend their time so this shouldn't be too much of a concern. The instant torque also makes for a smooth power delivery, which should come in handy when setting off quickly at traffic lights.
As it's fully electric, the Zoe produces no CO2 and is exempt from vehicle tax. It also comes with a home-charging unit, which is able to charge the batteries fully in seven hours.
What's it like to drive?
The Zoe's electric motor is great driving around town, swiftly getting the car up to 30mph. However, it is after that when the Zoe isn't so impressive, as it can be slow to reach national speed limits. The Zoe isn't really meant for motorway driving, as it noticeably struggles, not helped by a range that will plummet at motorway speeds.
It excels in urban environments, though. A good driving position and its relatively small size make it great for nipping around town.
You'd struggle to describe it as dynamic, though. It's a tall car, which means it leans through corners, the steering is also a bit vague and it takes some time to get used to the regenerative brakes, which can often be a bit grabby. However, in town driving, you'd struggle to fault the Zoe.
How does it look?
The Zoe is by no means a bad-looking car, and there's something quite chic about how it looks. It is one of the best-looking electric cars currently on sale, and even though it is one of the best-value electric cars currently on sale, it doesn't really look cheap and wouldn't look out of place on an upmarket high street.
What's it like inside?
While the Zoe looks good on the outside, the same cannot be said about the inside. The cabin presents itself as being quite cheap, with lots of dull and scratchy surfaces. Unfortunately, compared with rivals, albeit more expensive ones such as the Hyundai Ioniq, the interior is just a bit of a let down.
Space is where the Zoe does do a little better. The rear seats can easily accommodate two adults, and unlike some electric cars, the Zoe does have five seats. The boot capacity stands at 338 litres, which is slightly better than most conventional superminis, although is a bit less than rivals such as the Nissan Leaf.
What's the spec like?
Standard equipment is impressive, with the entry-level model having Renault's R-Link infotainment system and satellite navigation.
Our mid-spec Dynamique Nav test car came with a hands-free key card, DAB radio, Bluetooth audio streaming and rear parking sensors.
The prices for the Zoe start at £14,245 post-grant, undercutting its main rivals the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Nissan Leaf, which cost from £24,995 and £16,680 respectively. However, it needs to be remembered that with the Zoe, the price doesn't include the mandatory monthly battery hire fee, which costs upwards of £59 per month for the Z.E.40 battery, depending on mileage.
The Zoe is definitely one of the better electric cars on sale, and one of the most usable too. While the interior is quite underwhelming and it isn't particularly good out of town, as an urban runabout it is seriously impressive. The fact that it looks good and has an improved range from the Z.E.40 battery only add to the Zoe's appeal.
Model (as tested): Zoe Dynamique Nav R90 Z.E.40
Max speed: 84mph
0-60mph: 13.3 seconds
Range (NEDC): 250 miles
Price (as tested): £19,295 (not including battery hire)