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

What Car? - - Contents - Mark Pear­son Mark.pear­son@hay­mar­ket.com

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

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