Renault Zoe Z.E.50 review

Renault Zoe Z.E.50 review

Zap-Map verdict: “Regularly developed over the years, the Renault Zoe enters its second generation with a strong hand. Improvements to range, power, and the cabin help make the Zoe a cracking little car, and it has enough about it to sway many drivers into the electric Renault.”

renault zoe 50 review

  • OTR: £28,620
  • Category: Supermini
  • Tax: £0 VED – 0% BIK
  • Cost to charge: £8.30
  • Emissions: 0 g/km CO2
  • Cost per mile of range: £120

Range & charging

renault zoe 50 review

Constant revisions to the Renault Zoe have seen driving range creep up over the years. This second generation sees that distance extended further, with a range of up to 245 miles on a charge according the official figures. The model tested saw that drop to 238 miles because of its specification, but all represent around a 30% increase in range over the previous models.

There are two configurations available:

    • ● Renault Zoe Z.E.50 R110 – 80 kW – 52 kWh – 245 miles
    • ● Renault Zoe Z.E.50 R135 – 100 kW – 52 kWh – 239 miles

In real-world driving, that equates to around 210 miles as a reliable figure for the car on test, even when driving with no care for efficiency. That range can be pushed up without much effort, and the Zoe is a car that can respond easily to a bit of hypermiling thanks to an effective ‘B’ mode for strong brake energy recuperation.

Making conscious use of ‘D’ and ‘B’ can really increase the miles available, and there’s an Eco mode for those requiring a range closer to the quoted 240-ish miles. However, since most of the time drivers don’t need 200+ miles in one go, I left the car in ‘Normal’ for most of the time and enjoyed the greater responsiveness from the Renault.

Charging is a big change with this new Zoe, as Renault has added a CCS inlet for rapid DC charging. It’s an option, but one that many buyers that cover long distances will opt for, since the standard 22 kW AC charger is around half as quick for a charge.

The test car was fitted with the CCS inlet, and it charges at up to 50 kW from just about lall rapid charge points. It’s a shame Renault didn’t plump for a 100 kW set-up for ultra-rapid top-ups, as that could have allowed a charge to take only around half a hour, but the 50 kW system is better than nothing. Personally, I’d pick a Zoe that had the rapid charging option, but many won’t need it – particularly those that use the Zoe as a local runabout.

On the road

renault zoe 50 review

For those that are familiar with previous generations of Renault Zoe, the driving experience will throw up nothing new. It drives and handles just like a Zoe, just with a bit more oomph from the latest motor. Boosted to 135 hp, the Zoe tested manages to complete the 0-60 mph sprint in 9.5 seconds, around two seconds faster than the lesser-powered model.

It brings the Zoe into decently nippy territory, with the benefit of the instant pick-up presented by electric motors in that the compact Renault feels quicker than that time suggests. In town driving, there is a little benefit to be found in the more powerful motor, but it is on the motorway where it is most appreciated. The Zoe is more comfortable at holding higher speeds with the R135 unit, and it will prove useful for those regularly completing greater distances.

The rest of the driving experience is good, if not ground breaking. There’s a little lean through the corners, and the Zoe can feel like quite a tall car to drive – even if it isn’t – thanks in part to a seating position that’s relatively high. Other than that, it proves an agile supermini for urban driving, but comfortably holds its own on twisty roads and motorways.


Comfort & Practicality

renault zoe 50 review

The Zoe isn’t a large car, so expectations must be managed. However, it’s a surprisingly roomy little car, and it will prove practical enough for many drivers. The boot can fit a pushchair in it, so a decent supermarket shop is of no issue, and holiday luggage will be reasonably well catered for. For households those requiring two or three of the available seats, there will be ample space for most situations, and the rear bench will deal with a couple of child seats easily.

The cabin is a huge leap forward for the latest Zoe, with a significant improvement in quality and design. A new set of materials creates a lovely texture and feel to surfaces, particularly with the recycled textile upholstery fitted. New steering wheel design, gear selector, switch gear and touchscreen infotainment system make for a far more premium product. It’s gone from one of the worst interiors in the supermini class to one of the best.


Tech & Specifications

renault zoe 50 review

That touchscreen system features far more tech than previously available, and brings in Renault’s latest systems. They’re good, with clear graphics and a responsive set-up. It’s intuitively laid out, and the portrait orientation makes great sense in navigation mode.

The gear selector is a new digital one, and looks and feels more sophisticated than the long-throw version of the previous model. In fact, there is significant improvement in electrical systems under the surface, which allows for greater levels of equipment throughout. A digital-instrument panel continues the premium theme, and generally, the Zoe is a lovely interior in which to sit.

Renault’s Zoe has long been a good electric supermini, but now it’s a genuinely good supermini – comparing against electric or otherwise. The engineers have worked on the Zoe’s weaker points – primarily cabin, but also slightly bland styling and range compared to rivals – and made them strengths. The range not only remains excellent, but leads the market for a car in its class, whilst the styling is familiar but sharper, and the interior now excellent.

Renault Zoe rivals

bmw i3 - renault zoe rival

BMW i3 It’s as established as the Zoe, and has been updated about as many times. A great – if alternative – supermini.

honda e - mini electric rival

Honda e Compact and stylish, the Honda can’t compete in terms of range, but makes up for it in performance.

 mini electric - renault zoe rival

Mini Electric Fashionable, great to drive, and sprightly, the Mini has a shorter range than the Zoe, but an excellent fun factor.

All information above correct at time of publication. Official economy figures, pricing, and tax rates supplied by the manufacturer. Cost to charge based on 0-100% charge at home on a tariff of 16 p/kWh.