The Renault ZOE has become one of the most popular EVs currently available and I recently spent a week with the third-generation model which offers increased power and range, a host of technological improvements and more sophisticated character throughout.
When it comes to range, a critical factor with any EV, the little Renault beats many of its rivals. Renault states a range of 399km (248 miles); at best I managed 306km (190) miles. I have never ever achieved the stated range figure by any manufacturer. ZOE continues to deliver distinctive design, with a fresh interpretation of the chic styling themes established by the previous model. I particularly like the completely redesigned interior it is more modern with the addition of more premium materials and the latest connectivity and features. There is a distinctive youthful feel to the interior, however four adults would be a tight fit and perhaps uncomfortable on a long journey, best for two adults and two kids. Providing the power for ZOE is a powerful 52 Kw battery and there are also more charging options, including the introduction of an optional direct current (DC) charger. Should you require an even more rewarding drive, there is a new R135 (100 kW) motor option which makes it the quickest and most responsive ZOE to date.
Innovative features enhance the driving and ownership experience, including increased connectivity. All models get Renault’s state-of-the-art EasyLink infotainment system and a configurable 10 inch TFT driver display, iPad styled and which displays the main driving information, including an eco-meter to encourage eco-friendly driving habits and maximise range. A new “B Mode”, increases regenerative braking and allows one-pedal operation to make urban driving easier, while a range of advanced driving aids make journeys safer and more. The display provides exceptional clarity and enhances the driving experience by enabling you to personalise needs or preferences. As well as selecting from different layout and lighting options, you can choose to have sat-nav instructions displayed directly in front for safer, less distracted driving. One prominent feature is a redesigned gear selector that features a metallic surround and Renault’s distinctive Z.E logo, this provides a more luxurious appearance and permits switching easily between settings, including the new B mode that boosts regenerative braking and encourages simple one-pedal driving. All versions now come with an electronic parking brake, replacing the traditional- style handbrake. The doubled storage space on the centre console means passengers have access to two USB sockets that can be used to charge smartphones, tablets and portable games consoles.
Regarding performance, the Zoe is certainly not for the fast lane, initial acceleration is good, rest to 100kph (62mph) is brisk, top speed certainly will not increase your pulse rate. Although. I would favour the Zoe as primarily a car for the urban environment, I did stretch its legs, so to speak ,on a drive to Fermanagh and the village of Kesh home to the famous Mayfly Bar and Restaurant owned by rally ace Garry Jennings who was planning an event much talked about in his home county, the shedding of his long hair. Having not have had a haircut in some 10 years, he was doing the noble for Fermanagh and Donegal Downs Syndrome and it was very much the talking point just about everywhere. The Mayfly is worth a visit, great food, especially fish from Killybegs and the banter is mighty, plenty of rally gossip and great stories from the man himself. Despite the ZOE being a far cry from a rally car it has a certain charm and our week together rolled on as I became much fonder of this French model