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Renault Zoe iSignature Nav R90 review

Date: 21 December 2016   |   Author: Debbie Wood

Equipment: 7inch touchscreen with satnav, climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors (Dynamique Nav and above), heated front seats and leather upholstery (Signature Nav only)
Engines: 22kWh 92hp electric battery (entry trims only), 41kWh 92hp R90 electric battery, 41kwh 88hp Q90 electric battery
Trims: Expression Nav, Dynamique Nav, Signature Nav
Transmissions: Automatic

Even though it's the Nissan Leaf that tops the sales charts here in the UK, the Renault Zoe is actually the best selling EV in Europe with over 100,000 sold to date.

Aside from a couple of material upgrades and tweaks to the standard equipment on offer, the big news for this updated version is the introduction of the firm's latest battery technology.

Effectively, it doubles the car's battery capacity, without taking up any more space than the previous version. As a result of this, the Zoe's official range has risen to an impressive 250 miles, making it one of the most capable electric cars you can buy today.

Renault predicts an everyday range of 186 miles in the summer, falling to 124 miles in the winter, which is significantly better then what was on offer before and eclipses most of its rivals.

Charging takes longer

Renault expects about 90% of the car's charging to be done either at home or at work.  Charging up using a standard three-pin domestic plug will take around nine hours to achieve a full charge, while the free (but only to retail buyers) 7kWh home wallbox drops this to just over seven hours.

The smaller 22kWh battery with an official 149-mile range is still available on entry-level cars and takes just four hours using the same wallbox, so the extra range does mean a considerable hike in charging time. You'll also have the £4,500 premium to consider when moving up a trim for the 41kWh battery.

Renault Zoe Interior

There's two choices of motor, named Q90 and R90, and what differentiates them is that one is more efficient (the R90 has a 20-mile longer range) but more expensive, while the Q90 is cheaper and quicker to charge. We'd advise you go for the latter if you're planning on taking the Zoe on the motorway often and using rapid chargers.

Zero emission driving has many benefits, including improving air quality and a reduction in tax bills, but there's also the savings in fuel which is a big advantage to company drivers. According to Renault, if you use the most efficient means possible, like charging at night, running a Zoe could cost as little as 2ppm, rising to 3ppm in Winter. Fleet managers should also consider the savings in SMR that the Zoe offers, as the car has fewer moving parts which could go wrong.

Likeable car

Driving the Zoe is easy, especially around the city. The car's compact dimensions and small turning circle make simple work of tight corners and the immediate torque on offer makes the car feel nippy on the move too.

Although quick from 0-30mph - officially this takes just 4.1 seconds - the Zoe is less eager to accelerate at higher speeds. Official figures tell us that the 0-62mph dash takes a lengthier 13.2 seconds.

Renault Zoe Rear

The steering is light and direct and the Zoe handles itself well in the corners with plenty of grip, the lack of engine noise does improve comfort levels significantly over combustion-engine rivals. Overall, ride quality is good, again excelling in the city, although on rougher surfaces the car gets quite bumpy. The brakes are a little sharp, however, and placing the car into "Eco" mode triggers some aggressive regenerative braking, which we found pretty intrusive.

Practicality credentials

These latest revisions make no alterations to the Zoe's Fiesta-like size so it's just as practical as before with five doors and a 338-litre boot that expands up to 1,225 litres with the rear seats folded.

Headroom is plentiful throughout, while legroom could be better for rear passengers. You still cannot lower the driver's seat, which, although fine for me at 5ft 1inches, will prove annoying for taller passengers.

Inside the cabin, there are a number of places to store your Smartphone, coffee or purse, the door pockets are a little on the small side, though, and there's no centre cubbie on offer either.

Interior quality feels durable for the most part and the layout is easy to navigate around, the tech on offer (satnav constantly getting confused aside) works well in execution too and the cabin is an overall quirky and cheerful place to be.

You can buy the Zoe in three trims. Here, we're testing the car in top-of-the-range Signature Nav, which is new for 2016 and comes with a variety of kit as standard. This includes a reversing camera, heated seats, a Bose surround sound system, electric folding door mirrors and the firm's R-Link Multimedia system with satnav and voice control functions.

P11D Price: £29,940
On sale: November 2016
Residual value: 18.0%
Depreciation: £24,540
Fuel: £600
Service, maintenance & repair: £890
Cost-per-mile: 56.6p
Official range: 250 miles
CO2 (BIK Band): 0g/km (7%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £35/£70
Boot space: 338 litres
Battery size/power: 41kW/92hp

Verdict


Speak to most experts and they'll tell you that electric cars are on the cusp of mass adoption and this latest Zoe proves that a little extra range actually goes a long way in making them more practical. Choosing this new battery comes at a cost, though, and not just in price but time on charge, too, so you should only consider the compromise if the extra range is really needed.
8/10
  • Quirky looks
  • No fuel costs
  • Easy to drive
  • Improved battery range
  • Takes longer to charge
  • Significant price hike over smaller battery

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