Renault Zoe Review logo

Renault Zoe Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2013
      Body type
      City car
      Fuel type
      EV
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
How electric hatchbacks should be

Best bits

  • Engaging to drive with useful acceleration
  • Low noise levels and good ride
  • Good standard specification makes it easy to live with

Not so great

  • Limited range in early models
  • Tall design not the most engaging to look at
  • Still an expensive proposition if you buy new

Read by

Renault Zoe Side Front View

Overall verdict

Renault Zoe Driver's Seat

On the inside

Renault Zoe Side Rear View

Driving

Renault Zoe Charging Port

How much does it cost to run

Renault Zoe Right Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Renault Zoe is conclusive proof that the modern electric car is fit for purpose. It is a pleasure to drive and later models have the range to be viable in single-car households."

Renault Zoe Side Front View


It takes a brave soul to be one of the first to take a big step in a new direction, but that’s exactly what Renault did when it first introduced the Zoe in 2013. At that point in time the only other mass-produced electric vehicle on sale was the Nissan Leaf, and that too was in its early days. However, the Zoe was a slow-burning hit, and its combination of charm, useful range and continuous improvement means it is still a popular choice today. 


Renault had already dabbled with electric cars, but the Zoe was the company’s first attempt at building one from the ground up, and although it is similar in size to the Clio it shares few mechanical parts. The design is distinctive too, with a tall body shape designed to maximise interior space as well as room for batteries, and ensure good aerodynamics too.


The powertrain of the Zoe has evolved and improved over time, with a number of improvements that have enhanced its performance and range. At launch the Zoe was available in a single model, with a 90PS electric motor and a 22kWh battery giving it an official range of between 130 and 150 miles on a single charge.


In 2016 a higher-capacity 41kWh battery was introduced as an option, increasing the official range to 250 miles (NEDC) 190 miles (WLTP). 2018 saw the introduction of a more powerful electric motor with 109PS, and from September 2019 the latest generation Zoe was also offered, with a 136PS motor and a 52kWh capacity battery, giving a claimed range of 245 miles (WLTP).


The Zoe range is relatively straightforward, with a single five-door hatchback bodystyle and three trim levels, although there is an extra element of choice in respect of the electric motor and charging speed. 


The basic Play trim is only available with the less powerful 109PS electric motor and without the rapid charge facility. The mid-range Iconic model allows you the full choice - 109PS motor with or without rapid charge, and the more powerful 136PS engine with or without rapid charge, while the high-spec GT Line comes with the 136PS motor only, and the choice of standard or rapid charging.


Inside, the Zoe continues to look a little different from conventional cars. You sit high up, chiefly because the battery pack is underneath the floor, but headroom isn’t lacking thanks to the tall body, and the height actually helps the view out at the same time. The interior has hints of Clio about it with some familiar switches and buttons, but earlier models have brighter interior shades that lift the mood. Whereas later models go for a more sophisticated, high-quality look, with 100 per cent recycled materials used for the seat coverings too.


The driving experience is typical for an electric car, with strong low-speed acceleration and generally low noise levels. It’s also a very easy car to drive, with just two pedals and an automatic gearbox you can put into Drive and ignore. Later models are better still thanks to the increased power output, but even the first cars are a pleasure to drive.


Such are the Zoe’s strengths, it makes a convincing case against conventionally-powered Superminis, even if there is a premium price to pay for its all-electric powertrain. Buy used and you can dodge some of this extra cost, although you won’t benefit from any government incentives.


Is the Renault Zoe right for you?


If the Zoe is physically big enough to accommodate you and your life then it comes down to a matter of range and purchase price. With early models offering a realistic range of around 100 miles it would only really suit someone who takes long trips rarely (or never), but city dwellers can potentially enjoy better access to charging points and reduced costs where congestion charges apply. 


Later models have longer range making them more viable for longer commutes, but still require a large investment compared to a conventional petrol or diesel car of a similar size.


What’s the best Zoe model to choose?

Range is rarely a consideration when choosing a petrol or diesel car, but it is a huge factor when it comes to buying electric. If you’re buying new, and plan to keep the car for a long time, you may not need the most power or the fastest charging options. 


However, on the used market these factors will be a big draw, so you should choose the biggest battery, the most powerful motor and the quickest charging option your budget will allow.


Early Zoes are well-equipped, with even the Expression model getting Climate Control, Sat-Nav with Bluetooth and Cruise Control. The most recent 2019-on models delete the navigation on the basic Play models, but it is standard on Iconic and GT Line trim. Sat-Nav is a useful thing to have when driving an electric car, as they can usually locate charging stations on your route and guide you depending on your remaining range.


What other cars are similar to the Renault Zoe?

The Nissan Leaf is an obvious rival for the Zoe, especially as it has been around for many years. It’s a bigger car than the Zoe, but is one of the few other cars designed from the ground up as an electric car, and is all the better for it.


Many of the rivals closer to the Zoe’s size are based on conventional vehicles, such as the SEAT Mii Electric, Skoda Citigo-e iV and Smart EQ Forfour  while bigger hatchbacks like the latest Peugeot 208 are also available in pure electric form. 

Learn more

Renault Zoe Driver's Seat

On the inside

Renault Zoe Side Rear View

Driving

Renault Zoe Charging Port

How much does it cost to run

Renault Zoe Right Side View

Prices, versions and specification

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