Renault Zoe E-Sport: The 'intimidating' electric hot hatch
All-electric concept is 'pure competition car' but can be difficult to control
Renault is known for fitting racing technology into some of its less sporty cars, a tradition the French carmaker has kept up with its Zoe E-Sport concept.
Taking the all-electric Zoe hatchback as a base car, the company has placed a 460bhp twin-electric motor taken from Renault's Formula E single-seating race car. This helps the hot hatchback go from zero to 62mph in a supercar-rivalling 3.2secs and on to a limited top speed of 130mph.
Unfortunately, Renault doesn't plan to release a production version of the electric hot hatch, but the company has made a one-off version that can be driven on a race circuit.
The Renault Zoe E-Sport is a clear departure from the rounded silhouette of the road-going EV. Flared wheel arches, large brake cooling ducts and an aggressive front splitter give it a significantly sportier look than the regular version.
Its bodywork has been formed from carbon fibre, says Autocar, which has helped Renault improve the compact EV's aerodynamic grip. This can be seen with the exposed carbon fibre diffuser at the rear end.
Aside from the addition of aerodynamic aids, the Zoe E-Sport's head and tail light design has been given a slight tweak, while the roofline appears to be lower.
Inside, the electric hatchback is stripped of any luxuries, such as air conditioning and leather seats. It has only the bare minimum needed for people to be able to drive it.
Turning it on requires "lots of button pushing" and "practice", says Car, but drivers "can forgive its histrionics on account of the fact it is a one-off and that it is quite clearly wired for fun."
At the centre of the Alcantara-covered dashboard sit "three big blue buttons that enable you to switch between forward, neutral and reverse", says AutoExpress. Drivers can also select the car's "highest voltage settings" on the dash, too.
"It's a simple yet highly complex car inside", adds the magazine, while its bare-bones interior fills the cabin with "intimidating" noises when the car is in its most powerful mode.
As the Zoe E-Sport isn't planned to reach production, it hasn't been fitted with the necessary safety features required to be legally driven on public roads. Testing for the electric hot hatch has therefore been done on a closed circuit.
The car feels "very firm", says AutoExpress, with "the ultra-stiff suspension picking up and relaying every last grain of tarmac straight to your backside."
Pushing the throttle to the floor "provides the biggest shock of all", as the magazine says "the E-Sport takes off in a way that only electric cars do on account of their instant delivery of torque."
The E-Sport's underpinnings are "pure competition car in both its design and set up", reports Evo. While the steering is electronically assisted, it's "still surprisingly heavy" at lower speeds.
Having its 992lb battery pack located towards the rear of the car generates "monster lift off over steer" – meaning the weight causes the car to slide while off throttle – the magazine says. This, coupled with the short wheelbase, can make it difficult to control, despite having a four-wheel drive system.
Nevertheless, "it's an ideal image builder for the prospect of a slightly hotter regular Zoe in the future", says Car, but "there's as much chance of a production version appearing as there are emissions from its tailpipe."