EV Review: 2018 Renault Zoe

 In Electric Cars

Introduction

The most logical segment for high efficiency is the subcompact market, and that’s squarely where the 2018 Renault Zoe is positioned. It’s one of the most affordable electric cars on the market right now, and it certainly competes with the most economical EVs in terms of range, style, and performance, but there’s one factor that contrasts many others.

The Renault Zoe offers a mandatory battery hire program. All three trim levels offer the option in your purchase price or leasing agreement for a battery rental scheme, lowering the cost of ownership. The 2018 Renault Zoe can, however, provide an owned EV battery as part of your vehicle purchase or lease if you choose to do so, whether you choose the standard 41kWh battery or the more inexpensive 22kWh option. Otherwise, you must make rental payments for the life of the car for its onboard power structure. That might not seem like the most logical platform on which to sell the Renault Zoe. However, it does mitigate the potential future expense of replacing a costly EV battery and can lower the entry cost.

Aside from its unusual mandatory battery hire program, the 2018 Renault Zoe is an awesome subcompact car. Easy charging, impressive multimedia, and enjoyable driving are key characteristics. Whether it’s enough to overcome the battery hire program will soon be seen.

Exterior styling

Boomerang rear taillights, signature headlamps, EV badging – they all are part of the Renault Zoe’s identity. The Zoe positions itself as a mass-market, stylish mini car that doesn’t hide the fact that it’s an electric car. Attractive wheels are standard, even with the base Expression Nav 15-inch wheel covers.

Brown Renault ZoeYou can’t forget that it’s a small car. The 2018 Renault Zoe has a boot relative to its size, just 1,225 dm3 of boot space with the rear seat folded. With the rear seat up and the cargo shelf in place, it can hold just 338 dm3 of cargo. It’s limiting, allowing enough space for the charging cord, a knapsack, and not much else. But to make the most of its size, Zoe’s appearance is that of a coupe, not a sedan, with rear door handles hidden in the window frame pillar.

Fit and finish interior

The base level Renault Zoe Expression Nav trim is well-equipped, including Keycard entry with push-button start and stop, cruise control, automatic climate control, and electric front wheels as standard equipment. Also standard is a Renault R-Link Multimedia system with 7-inch touchscreen, TomTom LIVE Navigation, and Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming.

Dynamique Nav and Signature Nav add valuable features which may include electric rear windows, part leather interior, electrically folding outside mirrors, heated front seats, a rearview camera, and available BOSE 3D Sound. These features all add to a comfortable, convenient interior.

Zoe InteriorThe interior certainly is not large, and drivers of beyond normal size could feel cramped very soon. Being such a narrow car – just over 1 metre between the rear wheel arches – two adults in the rear seat could rub elbows while contorting their necks for headroom.

Seat in Renault ZoeStill, once you’re comfortable inside the Zoe, there are no complaints. The seats are firm yet well contoured, controls are within easy touch, and visibility is exceptional.

Driving Experience

As a subcompact EV, the 2018 Renault Zoe quite clearly focuses its efforts on economy, not performance. The 41kWh battery is new this model year, allowing a single charge range of 250 miles. As charging times tend to be a limiting factor, the Zoe’s Q90 Dynamique Nav and Signature Nav trims can accept an 80-percent quick charge in just 65 minutes. Standard 16A home charging takes substantially longer at more than 15 hours with its own adaptable Chameleon charger.

Rear view of ZoeFor its miniature stature, the 2018 Renault Zoe performs adequately. Don’t expect Tesla-like acceleration nor sports car handling – that’s not this car’s purpose. Rather, its mundane and soft driving feel, uninspiring acceleration, and Michelin Energy EV tyres spell out its intention: to be an efficient, low-cost mode of transportation.

Features

MSRP £18,170 GBP ($25,000 USD)
Type BEV
Electric Range 250 miles / 405 km
Total Range 250 miles / 405 km
Time to Charge 2.7 hours (Level 2)
Electric Motor 66 kW
Battery Capacity 41 kWh
Top Speed 84 mph / 136 km/h
Warranty 3 years/100,000 miles or 160,000 km

Conclusion

The 2018 Renault Zoe does not pretend to be an executive-class car, nor an estate. Its performance, size, and function all suit it perfectly – it’s an extremely efficient runabout subcompact car. That it’s an all-electric car is an added bonus.

The mandatory battery hire is a level of complexity that most car shoppers won’t care for, although it lowers the purchase price by thousands. The Zoe has decent EV range and is well suited for small families, city dwellers, and commuters. If you plan to get away for a weekend or longer, the restrictive cargo space may dictate that this is not the car for you.

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