Used test: Renault Zoe vs Toyota Yaris Hybrid

If you're dipping your toes in the future should you go for the fully electric Renault Zoe or the Toyota Yaris Hybrid? More than that, which one makes more sense bought used? We have the answer....

Used test: Renault Zoe vs Toyota Yaris Hybrid

The Contenders

Renault Zoe R90 ZE40 Dynamique Nav 

List price when new £22,670

Price today  £14,800 

Available from 2013-present

The Renault Zoe is one of our favourite electric cars has an impressive driving range and very low running costs.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid 1.5 VVT-i Excel Nav 

List price when new  £19,545

Price today £13,600

Available from  2017-present

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid offers good fuel economy and, at this age, road tax exemption, yet no range anxiety.

Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

One day, if things go according to the plans our politicians have laid down for us, all cars sold in the UK will be electrified. Whether a fully electric or a hybrid car the choice will be Hobson’s; it seems by 2040 pure petrol and diesel-engined cars will be out, so you’d better become familiar with all the ins and outs of zero or low-emissions motoring.

In fact, electric and hybrid vehicles have been with us for many years already, and the used car market is now rich with examples of either that are vying for your attention if you’re thinking of making the switch.

So why wait? Do it now. But which way should you go, though? To help you sort that out, we’ve picked two mid-price small cars at two years old, one a fully electric vehicle and the other a petrol-electric hybrid. Here, we’re pitting one of our favourite small EVs, the Renault Zoe against a Toyota Yaris Hybrid. Which one makes the most sense at this age? Read on to find out. 

What are they like to drive? 

The hit of torque you get the instant you prod the Zoe’s accelerator pedal makes it the much nippier car around town. In fact, it streaks away from traffic lights with surprising urgency. Above 50mph, though, the Yaris builds speed more swiftly; for instance, it’s a second quicker from 50 to 70mph.

Renault Zoe

When you’re driving gently at low speeds, the Yaris does a decent job of utilising its electric motor as much as possible, smoothly switching to petrol power as you pass 30mph. However, accelerate more briskly and the petrol engine screams away as the automatic gearbox clings on to high revs until you lift your right foot. This makes the Yaris seriously grating to drive on faster roads.

Toyota Yaris front

Conversely, the Zoe cocoons you in a bubble of serenity with the light whir of an electric motor the only soundtrack; it’s quieter than the Yaris at all speeds. It’s more comfortable, too, dealing with imperfections in the road more adroitly than the firmer-riding Yaris, although the Zoe’s body does bounce around more over dips and crests on faster roads.

You don’t get much feedback through either steering wheel, but the Zoe’s steering is more precise and naturally weighted, allowing you to place the car confidently through corners. However, the Yaris hangs on more gamely through faster bends and its body stays more upright. Still, neither car is much fun to drive compared with, say, the Ford Fiesta

Both cars are easy to manoeuvre at low speeds – a good thing considering they’re mainly designed for town driving – and the Toyota Yaris has an impressively tight turning circle of 9.4m, compared with the Renault Zoe at 10.6m. It takes a while to get used to the Zoe’s regenerative brakes but they are still smoother than the Yaris’s, which are very grabby.

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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