What was good about this electric car just got better
We could start talking about performance, handling and so on, but for the Zoe that really isn’t the point. Not that it’s bad at either of those two skills, but it now has a much more stand-out skill.
2016 Renault Zoe R90 Z.E.40 Signature
Price: £19,895 plus battery rental from £59pcm, or £25,495 outright
Engine: Electric motor
Gearbox: Single-ratio, ‘reducer’
Kerb weight 1480kg
Top speed: 84mph
Range: 250 miles
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
The spectre of range anxiety has always stalked the electric car industry, and it’s of little help that it’s only an expensive Tesla that really can offer a real-world 250 miles or more on a charge. But this latest Zoe may well change that. We’re used to incremental increases in range, but the electric Renault will have a claimed range of 250 miles.
Granted, the reality may be about 185 miles or so, but that’s still a huge increase and a decent range. The key is that this hasn’t been achieved by loading the car down with extra battery packs. Renault has worked out a way of increasing the density of individual battery cells. The result is a much bigger capacity while the battery remains the same size and the same weight. That is a result.
Since Renault will also give you a free 7kW fast-charger for your home, and that can fully charge the car in only about four hours, the French company seems to have taken several steps all at once in removing range anxiety.
Driving a test car, we actually managed to match the range forecasts of the car, extracting 186 miles out of it on a mixture of city streets and faster roads. Round town the performance is zippy enough to be quite fun, but it does tail off as speeds mount. Even so, for what it’s likely to be used for, the Zoe is plenty nippy enough.
It’s not quite a Clio in terms of handling, but then it is noticeably heavier. However, it handles decently enough. We were reminded of the Clio when we got in, as the cabin seems like a Clio cabin of a while back. It seems a touch dated, even in new, spangly Signature Nav trim. It’s all quite upmarket on paper but in the cabin somehow falls short of that aspiration.
If you look at the Zoe as a normal car, it’s a five-door hatchback, with a lot of torque, a reasonable cabin and decent turn of speed away from the lights. The fact that it now has the electric range of something like the more expensive BMW i3 makes it a desirable option for many who live in or near our spreading cities.