What's the used Renault Zoe hatchback like?
There are many who want a piece of the electric car pie but won't commit because of the costs involved and fears over battery life and range. The Renault Zoe tried to dispel some of these worries at its 2013 launch by being reasonably priced and offering the option of leasing the battery rather than buying it outright. And it was a stratergy that worked, because the popularity of the Zoe means there are plenty of used examples to choose from.
Early models with the standard 22kWh battery and 88bhp motor have the shortest range but are significantly cheaper to buy, while post-2017 examples can be had with the uprated 40kWh battery. The Zoe is available in its later (post-2017) form with either 88bhp Q90, 92bhp R90 or 107bhp R110 electric motor.
A major facelift in 2020 resulted in the Zoe coming with either a 107bhp or a 134bhp electric motor. The former is called the R110 and the latter the R135.
There are three trim levels: Expression Nav, Dynamique Nav and Signature Nav. The entry-level models get 15in steel wheels, cruise control, climate control and a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav. Upgrade to Dynamique Nav and you'll get 16in alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, keyless entry and start, a DAB radio, and rear parking sensors. Signature Nav adds numerous bronze accents, electronically folding door mirrors, a rear-view camera, heated front seats and a Bose sound system.
To drive, the Zoe is nippy and smooth. For starters, there's the uninterrupted stream of power, and this is what makes the Zoe relaxing and surprisingly enjoyable to drive around town. Above 40mph, the Q90's acceleration quickly starts to tail off, though; the R110 will get you up to 70mph noticeably more swiftly. Mind you, the Zoe's grabby brakes frustrate by making it difficult to slow smoothly – the payoff for topping up the battery with recovered energy that would otherwise be wasted during braking.
For the post-2020 models, you don't notice a massive difference in acceleration at town speeds, but the R135 will get you up to motorway speeds much more swiftly (0-62mph takes 9.5sec, compared to 11.4 in the R110).
Ride comfort is okay at low speeds: broken surfaces are absorbed effectively, with little suspension thump. However, the Zoe is less composed on faster roads, where ruts and potholes unsettle it a little too easily. It turns in to corners keenly enough, though, helped by its light and precise steering, and there's plenty of grip. With soft suspension, it tends to lean through corners, though.
Inside, the Zoe is bright and modern and proves itself to be a very usable urban runabout. You sit a bit higher than the small hatchback norm and there’s no base height adjustment on the driver's seat. You get a decent range of adjustment for the steering wheel, though, as well as competitive head room and leg room and decent cushioning under your backside.
Fortunately, part of the battery pack is arranged below the rear seats, so boot space is rather good for this size of car, and there's a dedicated space to stow the charging cable so it doesn't have to take up precious cargo room.
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