Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Although the official figures suggest the Zoe is capable of between 238 and 245 miles on a full charge (it varies slightly depending on which motor and trim level you go for), even Renault acknowledges that these numbers are very optimistic and quotes its own ‘real-world’ ranges accordingly. It reckons 233 miles should be possible in the summer, falling to 150 miles in winter conditions.
This sounds pretty accurate to us; in our own independent Real Range tests, which are always carried out in temperatures between 10deg and 15deg C, the Zoe managed 192 miles on a full charge. That’s substantially farther than you'll go in a Honda E, Mini Electric or Peugeot e-208, but the Volkswagen ID.3 goes a little farther, while the pricier Kia e-Niro goes farther still.
As for price, the Zoe undercuts the Peugeot e-208, Mini Electric and Nissan Leaf. Discounts are available, too, and remember that you can claim a £3000 government grant towards the price of a Zoe and most other electric cars. If you're buying on finance, the Zoe offers slightly cheaper monthly repayments than those aforementioned rivals, too. However, while the ID.3 is a little more expensive in its lower trim levels, it isn’t drastically so and offers significantly more space and a better range.
Disappointingly, Renault came second from bottom in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, finishing above only 31st-placed Land Rover. So it’s good that every new Renault comes with a five-year warranty. There’s no mileage limit for the first two years, but a 100,000-mile limit applies thereafter. Renault also provides three years (or 100,000 miles) of roadside assistance cover on all of its electric cars. Meanwhile, the Zoe's battery is covered by a separate eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
Disappointingly, automatic emergency braking (AEB) isn't available on the entry-level Play trim, but it is an option on mid-level Iconic trim and it's standard on GT Line. We strongly advise adding this important safety feature, which can prevent you from slamming in to the rear of the car in front. Of those trim levels, Iconic is our favourite, bringing rear parking sensors, climate control and wireless phone charging on top of the good standard equipment on offer with entry-level Play.
Lane-keeping assistance and traffic sign recognition are also standard on Iconic trim and above, although you need to go for range-topping GT Line trim to get blind spot monitoring – while GT Line is well equipped but only available with the R135 motor and, therefore, expensive. The latest generation Zoe hasn't been appraised by the safety experts at Euro NCAP, so we can't tell you how well it's likely to protect you in an accident.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
Nice interior and to drive, but terrible range, perf...
Great to look at and to drive, but a high price and meagre ran...
Good to drive but future cheaper editions look...
Electric motoring doesn't come much more desirable, but there...