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Used test: Renault Zoe vs MG ZS EV
You can save around £10,000 on either of these electric cars by buying used, but which is the better choice?...
MG ZS EV Exclusive
List price when new £30,495
Price today £19,527*
Available from 2019-present
First electric MG seems to be a bit of a used bargain given the size of it and how much standard equipment it gives you
Renault Zoe R135 GT Line
List price when new £32,120
Price today £22,943*
Available from 2020-present
Hasn't changed much on the outside but has been thoroughly overhauled compared with earlier versions
*Prices today are based on a 2020 model with average mileage and full service history according to the What Car? Valuation service, correct at time of writing
For all of the interest in electric cars, and as much as you might dream of owning one of the latest examples, the frustrating fact is they're generally a lot more expensive than their conventionally powered counterparts. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider an electric car at all; there are now quite a few available used that offer many of the same perks for a much lower price.
Assuming that you need a reasonable boot and rear seats that can comfortably accommodate adults, what are your cheapest options? Well, the Renault Zoe is certainly one; this car came out in 2013 but received a thorough overhaul in 2020, with a bigger battery, a new interior, a swanky infotainment system and a more potent motor. We’re testing the range topping GT Line, which gets all the gadgets you’re likely to want.
Likewise, MG’s ZS EV is well-appointed in range-topping Exclusive form, plus it offers the bonus of a more desirable SUV shape. So, which of the two is the best used electric car?
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
The Zoe offers two power outputs (108bhp or 132bhp), and the beefier motor is the one you get with GT Line trim. Don’t expect anything remotely close to Tesla performance, but acceleration is still punchy away from the line and you can easily keep up in the outside lane of the motorway.
The ZS is quicker – not hugely, but if you put your foot down it surges forth with noticeably more vigour. In fact, in the wet, you have to be a bit gentle when pulling out of junctions, lest the 141bhp motor spin up the front wheels.
Lift off the accelerator pedal in either car and you feel yourself slowing down as the regenerative braking system harvests energy to replenish the battery. And you can strengthen this effect so that you’ll need the brake pedal less often.
Performance isn’t just about how quickly you can speed up and slow down; it’s also about how far you can travel between charges. Officially, this Zoe can achieve 238 miles, compared with 163 for the ZS – unsurprising, considering the French car is more aerodynamic and has a bigger battery.
In our real-world tests, the Zoe managed a very respectable 192 miles on a full charge (slightly farther than the entry-level Tesla Model 3). We were unable to test the ZS, due to unreliable weather, but it’s likely to be at least 50 miles adrift in equivalent conditions.
The Zoe is the more enjoyable car to drive, too. Its steering is heaps more precise and gives you a better sense of connection with the front wheels, and the car sways a lot less through bends. However, that’s hardly surprising when it’s a low-riding small hatchback and not an SUV, and it’s not as though the MG is a wobbly blancmange.
You’d imagine that the ZS’s softer suspension would yield a comfier ride, and that’s indeed the case on undulating faster roads. But over rippled or pocked asphalt, it does a passable impression of someone on a pogo stick, and the Zoe’s firmer but better-controlled ride is less irritating.
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