In Review

Renault Zoe 2019 reviews: still the best electric city car on the market?

French carmaker ups its game with improved battery range and hi-tech cabin

Critics are testing a new version of Renault’s Zoe to find out whether the quirky electric city car is still a smart choice for buyers wanting to cut their carbon footprint. 

The Zoe was one of the cheapest electric cars on sale when it launched in 2012. While that’s still the case, the market has grown exponentially in recent years, with the likes of the Peugeot e-208 and upcoming Volkswagen ID.3 emerging as new rivals.

To stay competitive, Renault has equipped its Zoe with a larger battery capacity, growing from 41kWh to 52kWh, delivering a 20% boost in range to 236 miles, WhatCar? reports. Coupled to the battery is an electric motor, delivering 107bhp in entry-level trim and 134bhp in range-topping form.

Renault has also reworked the interior of the Zoe. The car now comes with a 9.3in “portrait-orientated” touchscreen infotainment system that can - among other things - highlight nearby charging points “in real time”, the reviews site says. 

There’s also a 10in virtual instrument panel ahead of the driver, though the buttons and dials on the centre console remain physical - as opposed to the controversial digital switches found on a number of new models.

While the Zoe’s upgrades will no doubt bring a new lease of life to the electric car, are they enough to help Renault see off its new rivals?

Here’s what the critics had to say:

Reviews

“The Renault Zoe has improved since it was launched back in 2012 but this ‘third-generation’ model represents the car’s biggest step-change”, says Auto Express. “It dramatically trumps rivals for usable range, interior quality and outright value for money.”

The magazine singles out the “sizeable gains” found in the EV’s cabin, including a notable improvement in interior quality and the impressively “sharp” 9.3in infotainment system: “it’s a huge improvement – both in functionality and responsiveness – over the old unit.”

On the road, the new Zoe will be familiar with those who have driven previous iterations of the electric car, according to Autocar. The EV is “light and nimble”, if lacking in overall steering feedback, and offers a “generally good” ride quality at lower speeds. 

Renault’s new “B mode”, which applies the brakes more aggressively when you lift off the accelerator to top up the battery, is also handy for those driving in urban areas, the mag notes. While it’s not as “expansive” as the systems found on Kia’s e-Niro EV, it does allow drivers to control the car with a single pedal. 

Crucially, the Zoe looks set to draw in a new generation of car buyers looking for emission-free motoring without the typically outlandish looks of other electric vehicles, says Car magazine. 

“This version appeals more to conventional car buyers who want something that looks and feels like a Clio, but just happens to have a plug socket on it,” it concludes.

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Price

Pricing for the Renault Zoe is somewhat unconventional. Customers can either buy the car and its batteries as a package, or purchase the vehicle and lease the batteries. 

Prices start at £25,760, including the £3,500 government grant for electric car buyers, for the entry-level R110 as a complete vehicle, or £18,670 for the leasing option, says Autocar. 

Top-spec R135 cars come in at £27,620, or £20,620 if you choose the leasing route, the motoring mag says. 

Pricing has yet to be announced for battery leasing, though it could mirror the old model’s fees, which started at £49 per month.

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