Renault Zoe buying guide
BUYING GUIDE This affordably priced electric car makes a genuinely usable alternative to a petrol-engined small hatchback In production 2013-present Price from £5000 Our favourite Q90 ZE40 Dynamique Nav
Practical electric motoring from £5000
MANY PEOPLE LIKE the idea of an electric car but won’t commit because of the costs involved and fears over range and battery life. So when it came out in 2013, the Renault Zoe aimed to dispel these worries by being reasonably priced, offering the option of leasing the battery rather than buying it as part of the car and having a longer range than most of its rivals.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The Zoe was designed from the ground up as an electric car, rather than adapted from a regular model. Inside, it proves a very usable runabout, with plenty of space for people and luggage.
On the road, it’s nippy and extremely quiet. The ride is pretty comfy, too, although it does become a little less settled at higher speeds. And because the Zoe has light steering and a single-speed gearbox, it’s easy to drive. The only unusual aspect is regenerative braking – the car slowing as you come off the accelerator.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
From new, you can either buy the car and lease the battery for a monthly fee or, for more money, buy the car and battery together. However, any problems with the battery once the four-year warranty ends are the owner’s problem and replacements can be prohibitively expensive. For those who lease, Renault will replace the battery if it drops below 75% of its original performance. Most used Zoes will therefore come with the leasing option, the cost of which depends on your mileage
‘From a 7kw home charger, a full charge from empty takes about eight hours’
and how long you want your contract to be. Expect to pay £49 per month for up to 4500 miles annually on an early car with the 22kwh battery, or as much as £110 per month for unlimited mileage on newer ZE40 models.
Prices for the oldest Zoes start at around £5000. Up that to £6000 and you’ll find plenty of good, clean used 2015 models, while £7000 is about the starting point for 2016 cars. Cars with the batteries included, rather than on lease, carry a small premium.
A full charge of the Zoe costs far less than a tank of fuel, at just £3. From a 7kw home charger, set up in your garage or driveway, a full charge takes about eight hours. Renault provides buyers of new Zoes with a Chargemaster wallbox, but you’ll have to buy one from a third party if you get a used car. Pod Point quotes £359 for purchase and installation.
A full charge from a 22kw charging point – the type usually found at offices – takes 2hr 40min. The pricier Quick Charge (Q90) Zoe can be topped up to 80% from empty in just 1hr 5min from a 43kw public rapid charger.
Zoes with the original 22kwh battery – and the current entry-level Expression Nav model, which continues to use this – have a claimed maximum range of 150 miles. Post-2016 cars with the 41kwh battery (ZE40) claim a maximum of 250 miles, although Renault admits that 174 miles is more realistic, with this dropping to 112 miles in winter. The Q90 has a slightly shorter official range of 230 miles.
As a zero-emissions car, the Zoe is exempt from road tax and London’s Congestion Charge.
Servicing is needed every 12 months or 18,000 miles. Check-ups alternate between minor and major, which cost £79 and £160 respectively at a franchised Renault dealer.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Despite its lack of an engine and associated mechanicals, the Zoe still has a number of things that can cause problems. Some owners have complained of rattles when driving over rougher roads. This is probably down to too much play in the tailgate’s lock or hinges. And in earlier cars, some found the light-coloured dashboard to reflect in the windscreen. There have also been reports of short range and intermittent cutting out of the wallbox charger.
The Zoe achieved a below-average score for electric cars in our latest Reliability Survey, with the main issues highlighted including broken heaters and climate control systems.
From new, the Zoe had a four-year, 100,000mile warranty. European roadside assistance was included for the length of the battery lease contract, or for three years (plus a fourth year of UK assistance) if the battery was purchased.
WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?
We’d recommend you go for a battery-lease car in order to keep your back covered. We’d also go for a post-2016 car in second-rung Dynamique Nav trim to get the better 41kwh battery. As a bonus, this adds a DAB radio and rear parking sensors to the Zoe’s already generous standard kit. Range-topping Signature Nav adds leather seats and a rear-view camera, but it’s pricey.
Driver sits up high, but there’s still plenty of head room
Rear leg room is tight for adults if those in front are tall
7.0in touchscreen with sat-nav and Bluetooth is standard
GOOD Low running costs Quiet and easy to drive Usable range BAD So-so performance Niggling issues Climate control came as standard on every trim level
The Zoe is slightly longer and taller than Renault’s conventionally powered Clio small hatchback