The all electric Renault Zoe

Hugh Maguire: on the pure electric and its range

The all electric Renault Zoe

Most people now know that Hybrid cars (combination of an electric motor and petrol engine) are a possible way forward in the drive to reduce emissions.

Certainly in cities they do make sense. However what about the pure electric car?

The biggest question still hanging over the pure electric car is range. Indeed two new words have become part of the electric car lingo now and they are “range anxiety”.

The infrastructure of charge points is pretty poor really and my experience has shown that even when you find one its often occupied (by a long term Parker rather than someone boosting their battery), it's out of order or theres a “normal” car market in the bay!

So electric motoring means you really need to plan your motoring, find out where charge points are available (though the car sat nav will guide you perfectly to one) and think about range all the time. Not a practical way to exist!

Furthermore with the new Renault Zoe the car cannot be charged from a standard 3 pin domestic or office socket (unlike the Nissan Leaf and others) so you are completely limited to the charge point network or of course buying a charge point for your house or office. Not a great start!

Has it got any street cred?

The new Zoe looks quite well and at least it does not scream “Eco Warrior”.

What’s it like inside?

Renault have made great improvements to the interior. It just looks and feels better. I like the fact that useless “energy use” digital readouts are relegated to sub menu’s and more practical information is presented to the driver.

Equipment levels are very good too with plenty of standard kit. The driving position feels about right and the visibility is good. There is plenty of leg and headroom up front but the rear is small and will only suit adults for short journeys really. The boot is actually a decent size for a car in this class.

What’s under the bonnet?

Well you guessed it, an electric motor! Do you care about how many KW?

Performance is good with lively acceleration typical of electric propolsion, but keep this up and your range goes to pot. Renault claim a summer range of 300km and a winter range of 200km (lower temperatures and more electric demand from lights, heaters etc) reduce the range.

In reality this February I got just about 230Km and really I had to drive everywhere in ECO mode (max speed about 96km/h and slow acceleration) to achieve this an experience I found very frustrating.

Will I enjoy driving it?

The new Renault Zoe rides and handles just fine. Its not rewarding or dynamic but its quiet and refined and feels good on the road. Wind noise is prevalent at 120km/h but road and tyre noise are well suppressed and thats more difficult when you don’t have the noise of an engine to distract.

So What’s the verdict?

As an electric car it works but know the real range is about 200km.

Ireland still has quite a way to go before the infrastructure is there to make pure electric car motoring a reality for the masses.

The Zoe will work for a city user who commutes to an office and home again, if you want to go much further its very limiting.

That said I liked its good design, classy interior, good standard kit and its quiet progress, but hey Renault give us the option to plug it into a normal socket too, even as a back-up.

Now for the price! Starts at €24,990, the high spec Signature model tested costs a whopping €30,930.