What Car? says...
The Renault Master ZE is the missing piece in Renault's electric vehicle puzzle. While the French manufacturer can claim 25% of electric vehicle sales worldwide and already has a small electric van, the Kangoo ZE, it hasn't had a large zero-emissions van until now.
The Master ZE is equipped with a 76bhp motor that takes its energy from a 33kWh battery located under the loadspace floor, and has an official range of 124 miles. In real-world conditions, that number is said to be closer to 74 miles, but that still puts it at the forefront of the electric big van market and ahead of its main rival, the Volkswagen e-Crafter.
Payload for the Master ZE is a still-respectable at 1100kg at its maximum, but load volumes remain completely unchanged compared with the standard Renault Master. That means buyers can still choose from a range of vehicles offering 8m3-13m3 of carrying capacity. As well as panel vans, there are two platform cab versions of different lengths, with a maximum payload of 1370kg, that are suitable for high-capacity body conversion to transport up to 19m3.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
A large van with just 76bhp available to it doesn't sound like the most thrilling or even rapid of vehicles to drive, and the Master ZE is indeed neither of those things. The motor is, however, strong enough to get the job done, and that's really all you can ask of large electric vans for now; the careful balancing act between payload, range and price makes anything more a lot harder to justify.
The Master ZE's 33kWh pack will take a full charge from a 32-amp power supply in six hours, but rapid-charging isn't available at the moment. Speed is limited to a maximum of 62mph, but the Master ZE can extend its range in Eco mode by limiting performance with slower acceleration and a maximum speed of 50mph.
The lower centre of gravity and heavier kerb weight of the ZE make it both better to drive and smoother-riding than a diesel-engined Master. The gentle surge of power and torque you get from the moment you hit the accelerator is very well suited to urban use.
There is excessive noise coming from the road, though; a little more sound-deadening would improve the experience. That said, it’s still a much more tranquil place to be than a diesel Master.