Renault Zoe long-term test: report 2

Can you switch from a small petrol car to an electric one without changing your lifestyle? We've added our best value small electric car – the Renault Zoe – to our long-term fleet to find out...

renault zoe snow

The car Renault Zoe R135 ZE 50 Rapid Charge GT Line Run by Louis Shaw, social media manager

Why it’s here To prove that small electric cars can be more than just city runarounds and in the case of the Zoe, a genuinely viable alternative to a small car.

Needs to Be Practical, comfortable and efficient, with decent range between charges.

Mileage 539 List price £34,495 (before gov't grant) Target Price £30,187 (before gov't grant) Price as tested £35,155 (before gov't grant) Official range 245 miles Test range 190 miles

13 March 2021 – Forget you’re electric

One of the hardest things about running something electric is treating it like a regular car. After all, how often do you get behind the wheel of a conventionally powered vehicle and think about whether it’s a petrol or a diesel? Not until you’re filling up, right?

By contrast, with the range of most electric cars (for now) less than those of combustion-engined equivalents, and “filling up” requiring more time, it changes your mindset.

Zoe long-term range

I’m more careful about how I drive because I’m more conscious of the energy I’m using – no bad thing. And yet deep down I know the concerns this causes are all in my head, because my average journey is less than 20 miles and I live in central London, where there’s no shortage of chargers.

Even when I need to go farther, the Renault Zoe’s 190 miles of realistic cold-weather range means I’m rarely going to need to stop for a top-up mid-journey. But what about everything else? Well, actually the Zoe is a great small car in its own right – not just a great small electric car.

Zoe boot long-term

Take the boot, for example. Unlike larger models such as the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3, there isn’t a second luggage area at the front of the car where the engine might normally be, but the one at the rear is big enough for six carry-on suitcases or a truck-load of recycling. To put that into perspective, most petrol and diesel rivals will take only five cases, while the Toyota Yaris hybrid limits you to four.

While I’m not yet as blasé about the Zoe’s electric motor as I would be about a petrol or diesel engine, then, it’s strengths go a long way towards normalising the experience. Even before you factor in the low running costs, it makes a strong case for going electric.

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