Renault Zoe long-term test: report 4

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...

zoe on driveway long-term

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 a small electric car can be more than just a city runaround and, in the case of the Zoe, a genuinely viable alternative to a conventional small car.

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

Mileage 778 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 192 miles

25 April 2021 – the long way home

It’s one thing driving around central London, topping up the battery of my electric car on a local lamp-post charger whenever I fancy (a gift the Renault Zoe affords me in the form of a realistic 200-mile urban range). It's quite another to jump into it to do a long journey – at least without having to face my fear of sitting around at a service station for half an hour. However, in order to justify the Zoe's price tag and its right to be considered a rival to the best non-electric small cars, it has to be able to do the miles.

Renault Zoe long-term charging

My challenge this time was simple: a same-day round trip to visit my girlfriend in Hove without topping up. To add to that, I set myself the challenge of not looking at the range still available until I arrived at my destination, and driving in Comfort mode on the motorway so I could cruise at 70mph (Eco mode has a speed limit of 62mph). An exhausting list of rules, perhaps, but then you wouldn’t need to consider any of the above with a full tank of fuel in a 'regular' car.

Due to the crazy number of roadworks along my usual 45-mile route, I decided to take the longer 80-mile congestion-free option both ways. And having promised my girlfriend I would arrive at 2pm, it really was imperative that I didn’t fall into the range anxiety trap and drop down to 60mph on the motorway in a bid to conserve battery charge.

Renault Zoe long-term range after 80 miles

Having used the car a few days before this journey, I was actually starting with a little less than a full battery, but it didn’t seem to matter. The Zoe made quick work of the outward journey, using very little charge in the 30mph zones (helped by liberal use of the most aggressive brake regeneration setting) and I arrived at my girlfriend's family home in good time, with 114 miles to spare. I cannot stress this enough – it was 80 miles of bliss, driving the car as I would any other, in comfort, and with Spotify playing my favourite tunes.

It gets better. Despite my fear that range anxiety would set in on the way home, I once again forced myself to ignore the range readout. However, it turns out I could have been staring at it the whole time with no fear of cold sweats. With around 40 miles still available, not only had the Zoe risen to my challenge, but it also did so with such great efficiency that I haven’t needed to recharge it since the weekend, despite running errands most of this week.

Renault Zoe long-term favourite tunes

Now I know that an economical small petrol car could probably do the return journey twice before needing to refuel, but then how many of those do you know that will do 200 miles for less than it costs to go into the London Congestion Charge zone? For my purposes at least, the Zoe is proving to be a formidable daily driver.

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