New Renault Zoe vs used BMW i3: which is best?

People are switching on to electric cars, but is a brand new Renault Zoe a better buy than a used BMW i3? Read on for our verdict...

Used test: BMW i3 vs Volkswagen e-Golf

New Renault Zoe vs used BMW i3 – driving

It hardly seems fair comparing a 168bhp BMW i3 that’ll do 0-62mph in 7.3sec with a 107bhp Renault Zoe that needs 11.4sec. In truth, though, you’ll only notice the difference once above urban speeds, because the Zoe pulls away smartly thanks to the instant torque of an electric motor. Aside from a quiet whine, the experience is serene and calming.

Your peace will be disturbed once you get above 40mph, however, because wind and road noise are far louder than they are in the i3. Mind you, the tyres on the i3 are very narrow, which helps a lot to reduce road roar. 

New Renault Zoe vs used BMW i3: which is best?

The steering is a little too quick for its own good in the i3 and not the most communicative, so you often find yourself taking several bites at a corner. Also, to make sure the rather tall i3 remained agile, BMW had to fit stiffer suspension, so the ride is rather firm, especially in town. Minor surface imperfections make their presence known, while mid-corner bumps at speed can make the i3 feel nervous and twitchy.

The Zoe is far more comfortable during low-speed driving and absorbs bumps and potholes well. It doesn't feel as composed at motorway speeds, though, because expansion joints and the like unsettle it far too easily.

New Renault Zoe vs used BMW i3 – costs

Neither car will cost you any road tax and charging costs should be similar for both. The i3 has a better range than the Zoe, according to our Real Range test, recording 165 miles against 146 miles.

When it comes to other running costs, differences start to emerge. You can buy a Zoe ZE40 R110 i Dynamique Nav for a Target Price of £25,546, or £22,046 after the Government's grant is applied. That's a lot cheaper than the £27,000 you’ll need for an i3 120Ah with a few thousand miles on it. This seems like a walk over for the Zoe then. Well, not so.

New Renault Zoe vs used BMW i3: which is best?

Depreciation has often been an issue for electric cars, and the Zoe is no exception to this. According to data from the experts at Cap HPI, it should retain 33% of its value over three years or 30,000 miles. This means it’ll be worth just £9412.

The BMW i3 was originally worth £35,350 and should retain 40% of its value over the same time period. So, it’ll cost you a similar amount in depreciation over those three years as the Zoe but be worth more in the end, at £14,140.

The Zoe won’t be as dependable as the i3, according to the latest What Car? Reliability Survey. Also, you can't rapid-charge the R110 version of the Zoe, meaning you’ll have to stop for quite a bit longer on long trips to top up its battery.

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