New Renault Zoe revealed: price, specs and release date
Today’s Renault Zoe is one of the most affordable electric cars on sale, but its replacement brings additional tech, a more sophisticated interior and a 236-mile range...
On sale August Price from Around £22,000 (before gov’t grant)
When the current Renault Zoe was launched, it addressed two of the most common complaints about electric cars: the paltry range and high price. But with competition now a lot stiffer, this new version has to push up the former again while keeping down the latter.
Sure enough, while the battery is no larger to ensure it doesn’t eat into passenger space, its energy capacity is up from 41kWh to 52kWh. That results in a 20% improvement in official range, to 236 miles.
Putting that into perspective, the long-range, e+ version of Nissan’s Leaf can travel just three miles farther, despite costing almost £40k. And the upcoming Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e both manage only 211 miles.
A full charge of the new Zoe from a 7kW home wallbox takes nine hours and 25 minutes. Or if you’re out and about, 30 minutes plugged into a 50kW public charger gives enough juice for about 90 miles of driving.
As with the current car, you can have a 107bhp motor. However, Renault is also offering a 134bhp variant, which can get the Zoe from 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds. And whichever you choose, there a new B mode that is intended to make stop-start city driving easier.
This increases the regenerative braking that you get with all electric cars, where the energy that is usually lost when you lift off the accelerator is instead directed back into the battery, with the side effect that the car slows noticeably. So, when B mode is selected, you should barely need to touch the brake pedal at all.
You can also have a wide range of driver aids that are designed to improve safety, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition and blindspot monitoring.
What’s more, the lights are now 100% LEDs no matter which spec you choose, for improved visibility, both in terms of allowing the driver to see and the car to be seen by other road users.
The exterior design is otherwise an evolution of the outgoing Zoe’s, with the distinctive C-shaped rear pillars retained and the headlights still flowing into a huge Renault badge that doubles as the cover for the charging port.
However, it’s all change inside, with high-spec cars now getting a 9.3in, portrait-orientated touchscreen infotainment system which, among other things, can show the availability of charging points in real time.
It’s complemented by a 10.0in driver display screen that replaces traditional instruments and allows you to customise exactly what information is directly in front of you, and in what layout.
Things aren’t all digital, though; you adjust the air-con via conventional rotary dials, instead of through the touchscreen as you do in the new e-208, with our experience from other cars suggesting that the Zoe’s arrangement is likely to be much less distracting on the move.
The dashboard itself is trimmed in the same fabric as the seats, with the yarn for this 100% recycled if you go for Iconic spec, to boost the car’s eco credentials.
Meanwhile, the list of standard equipment includes keyless entry, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring and two USB ports in the rear, so you’ll never have to worry about the kids’ phones, tablets or portable games consoles going flat.
As a bonus, if you download the My Renault app, you can remotely check the car’s battery level, programme the recharge cycle to correspond with tariff fluctuations from your electricity supplier, and plan routes that include the most suitable charging points to minimise travel time.
Whether Renault has been as successful at keeping the costs down as it has improving the range remains to be seen. However, the entry point will need to remain close to today’s £21,920 if the Zoe is not to look expensive next to the e-208 and Corsa-e. And, of course, like those rivals, it’s eligible for the Government’s £3500 electric car grant.
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The top 10 electric cars
The new Renault Zoe is on a long list of electric cars which are coming soon, but what are the best models on sale today? Below we count down the top 10 – and reveal the ones that are best avoided.
10. Hyundai Ioniq
The Ioniq is really three cars in one; it's available as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and as a fully electric car. The EV version we're including here has a range of 174 miles and enough torque to make acceleration feel brisk around town. The interior is nice, too, and our recommended Premium models get sat-nav and heated front seats as standard.
9. BMW i3
Even though it’s getting a bit old now, it still looks incredibly futuristic outside, plus its smart interior makes the i3 one of the most appealing electric cars on sale today. Its groundbreaking use of super-light carbonfibre and aluminium offset the weight of the heavy battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor, and a recent facelift means it’s better to drive than ever. BMW reckons that it’ll manage around 160 miles on a full charge in real-world conditions, but the i3 covered 121 miles on our Real Range test.
8. Tesla Model X
On paper, Tesla's all-electric family SUV seems to be the dream combination, offering the luxury of a Range Rover Sport with the green credentials of an electric car. In practice, its low running costs and practical interior are hard to fault, and even entry-level versions aren't short on pace, but parts of its interior do look a little low-rent.
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