Crucially the ZOE has been designed as an electric car from day one. This means that it doesn’t have the design compromises that come with adapting petrol and diesel models. The layout is reasonably conventional with the electric motor at the front under the bonnet, but the large battery is encased in the floor within the wheelbase.
Putting the battery in the floor gives the ZOE a low centre of gravity, keeps the batteries safe in an accident and means that you get a large 338-litre boot. There is a slight compromise for rear seat passengers as the rear seats are slightly raised reducing headroom, but there are three seatbelts and adults under six foot can squeeze in.
The ZOE is a great example of how quickly batteries have developed, the original pack could hold 22kWh but the latest version can manage 52kWh. Despite the massive increase in capacity the pack fits in the same space and only weighs 51 kg more. Impressive. This takes the official range to 245 miles and the minimum real world winter range increases to 150 miles. This makes ZOE a viable everyday option for many.
In addition to the bigger range there is more big news. Firstly Renault has finally ditched its AC Rapid charging system, this is a good decision as it was temperamental (or at least the public Rapid chargers were) and it brings Renault in line with the majority of manufacturers by adopting the European CCS system. Secondly you can no longer lease the battery separately, you have to finance the car and battery as a single package, again like every other electric car! This does make the list price more expensive but it simplifies the ownership experience.
Despite the changes the ZOE does retain some quirks. The biggest decision facing ZOE buyers has always been deciding on Rapid charging options. Despite moving to CCS, the ZOE still doesn’t get Rapid charge capability as standard. Without Rapid charge capability the ZOE will charge at AC Fast chargepoints including 22 kW posts. This might be enough for you, but if you do want to be able to use 50 kW Rapid chargers you need to hand over more cash than you were expecting as you can’t specify the option on the entry level model, which is a shame.
Compared to a Clio, the ZOE is more expensive but has a bigger boot, has more gadgets, and is better to drive too. If you travel less than 150 miles a day (or between charges) the ZOE actually makes more sense than the Clio. Compared to the increasingly tough competition in the electric Supermini class, the latest revision are a step forward and mean that the ZOE is still a good option, but it is worth checking out the competition too.
Estimated real world range: 150 miles winter / 245 miles summer (Renault estimates)
Official range 52 kWh battery: 245 miles
Official electricity consumption: 178 Wh/km
Battery pack: 52 kWh lithium ion, warranty 8 years /100,000 miles
Recharge time: 2.3kW 34 hours 30 mins; 7kW (including home charger) 9 hours 25 mins; 22kW 3 hours; 50kW CCS Rapid 1 hour 10 mins 0-80%.
Please note that CO2 emissions quoted for electric cars are not directly comparable to diesel and petrol cars. This is because CO2 emissions quoted are calculated by Green Car Guide and include the emissions created at the power station turning fuel (e.g. gas etc) into electricity and in transmitting and distributing the electricity to an end user. They do not include the actual production of the fuel (e.g. gas extraction and refinery emissions). Petrol and diesel emissions are supplied by car manufacturers and are based solely on the fuel burnt in the engine (tailpipe emissions) and do not include the production of the fuel or distribution to a fuel station. In practice this means that electric car emissions are over-estimated relative to petrol and diesel. For instance if an electric car, a petrol car, and a diesel car are all reported to emit 100 g/km CO2, the electric car actually has lower emissions.