Rumours that 2011 will be the year of the electric car are somewhat wide of the mark. For starters, with the exception of the Nissan Leaf, there’s not much you’d really want to buy.
Next year, however, could well be when electric cars start to catch on. The choice of models will explode – and they'll be cars that you’ll actually want to buy, just like this, the Renault Zoe.
Okay, it is still classed as a concept car, but we’ve driven it and it won’t change very much before it goes on sale in the spring of 2012.
Yours for around £12k… but…
What makes the Zoe really stand out, apart from its cute styling and jazzy, yet practical interior, is the price. The Zoe can be yours for around £12,000.
There is a catch, though. Well, it’s not really a catch, but it’s something you might not have expected. To get past the question marks over the longevity of the battery pack, you’ll never actually own it – you’ll lease it. So, you own the car, but you pay around £70 a month to lease the battery. The people who set residual values are still scratching their heads over that one, but we think it’ll work a treat – especially because most people will finance the car on a monthly basis anyway.
Behind the wheel
Back to the Zoe. It’s not fair to judge the driving experience of the production car on this hand-built prototype, but from previous experience the most remarkable thing about driving an EV is how unremarkable it is – they’re peppy, quiet and good fun.
You can charge it from your 13-amp socket at home or through one of the increasingly common public charging points – where you’ll get 30% charge in 10 minutes, 80% in half an hour and a full charge in around eight hours. That full charge will carry you up to 100 miles.
What we can say about the Zoe is that it offers as much practicality as any other modern supermini, with okay space for four and a reasonably sized boot.
The Zoe will keep some of the funky functions of this concept, too, such as the 'spa in the car' – a combination of lights, sounds and smells to keep you chilled while on the move. Nice.
The golden age of EVs may not be upon us yet, but with cars such as the Zoe on the horizon, we get the feeling it’s not that far away.
What Car? says
Fun and affordable, an electric car you’ll want to own.
Check out our video for our first impressions
Renault Zoe driven
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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