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Review: The new Renault ZOE is long on range and easy on the pocket

Melanie May takes Renault’s updated EV for a test drive.

IT’S AS PRACTICAL and useable as any supermini with a combustion engine, but the Renault ZOE R90 ZE 40 has zero tailpipe emissions, low running costs and plenty of other perks you’ll only get with an electric vehicle.

According to official NEDC figures, the ZOE R90 has a driving range of 403km, a massive 100km further than the Volkswagen eGolf, Hyundai Ioniq or Nissan Leaf.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

Of course, the standardised NEDC is an absurd measurement, and Renault says the real world range is more likely to be between 199km in winter conditions and 299km in temperate conditions, which will be more than enough for more standard drivers. I managed 257km in the week I was test driving.

If you do want to travel a little further in a single journey, all you have to do is plot a route that goes via an EV charging point, which shouldn’t be hard to do given that there are 1,200 of them around the country. A public charger will get the battery from zero to 100 per cent in just 2 hours 40 mins.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

When it comes to storage, the ZOE is decent: it has a 338-litre boot which swells to 1,225 litres with the rear seats folded, giving it more space than the Clio.

Rear passenger room is a little tight for taller occupants but space for those in the front seats is perfectly fine.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

The interior design has a minimal feel and even though it does feel a bit plastic-y in places, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The ‘floating’ centre console is the same as the Renault Clio and the seven-inch colour touchscreen features sat nav and Renault’s R-Link infotainment system.

In fact, the only difference in the cabin from a regular car is the TFT instrument display which shows driving speed, how many kilometres you have travelled and how much range/charge is left in the battery.

When you back off the throttle or use the brake pedal, the battery recharges via a regenerative braking system, meaning the battery range fluctuates as you drive.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

This system doesn’t feel as smooth or effective as it does in the BMW i3, but there’s still a real smugness to be had when you notice that you have more range than when you started your journey.

That range fluctuation is my favourite thing about driving EVs, if I’m being honest. It feels like you are in on a secret that drivers of ICE (internal combustion engine) cars just don’t know about. A little reward, if you will.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

Around town, the ZOE feels comfortable, smooth and nippy, but out on the motorway it isn’t exactly a speed machine, and it drives a bit harshly on rough road surfaces. The steering is light and responsive, meaning the ZOE darts confidently into corners with plenty of stability.

Overall, the ride is refined with a pleasing whine from the motor breaking through the silence in the cabin – it makes it sound like you’re whizzing around in a car from The Jetsons.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

Due to the positioning of the batteries, the ZOE has a high driving aspect, giving you a good view of the road. Combined with the light controls and lack of gears, it’s a very easy car to drive.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

Now, let’s talk running costs. If we take the average mileage of 25,000km, that’s 480km a week. With roughly two full charges of the Zoe, it will cost €6 a week to run, or €312 a year.

Public charging points are currently free, although you do have to pay for any parking charges. For tax, you’re shelling out €120 a year. That makes the Zoe a very cheap car to run.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

The starting price for the ZOE is €27,490 after VRT relief and the current SEAI grant, including full battery purchase.

Taking the battery range, running costs and price tag into consideration, the Renault ZOE Z.E 4.0 is really one of the most practical EVs that you can buy. Overall, it offers an attractive ownership proposition that other EVs can’t yet match.

READ: Genius design features every car should have >

READ: Review: The Nissan X-Trail is a sturdy seven-seat SUV perfect for active families >

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