With its compact dimensions, its rather contained prices for an electric and its comfortable autonomy, the French city car occupies the head of sales of electric cars in France. We tested it.
Launched in 2019, the second generation of the Renault Zoe is a bit of a big update to the first with several notable improvements. Did she really need it? Faced with intensifying competition, the Renault Zoé, present in the electric city car segment since 2011, had above all to confirm that it was indeed the most credible car in a segment that the competition is just starting to explore. , Peugeot tops the list with its e-208 which has been officially marketed since the start of the year.
If it took the Renault Zoé eight years to reach the 200,000 mark sold in Europe, it took only a year and a half to reach 300,000 registrations on the Old Continent since its inception. The reason ? The legislator who further encourages consumers to turn to the electric car. And even if electric cars are now more numerous, more technological and always go further, when all these criteria must be correlated with the price, it is often the Renault Zoé that stands out.
An evolution more than a revolution
Compared to the first generation of Zoe, the second corrects some details that may seem insignificant but which somehow translate the diamond firm’s desire to move upmarket. We can for example cite the arrival of disc brakes at the rear instead of the old drums, or even some recycled elements in the seat fabrics, seat belts or some visible plastics. The seat fabric is a 100% recycled material from the circular economy. The belts come from Autolib ‘and some plastics come from recycled plastic bottles.
As you will have noticed, the aesthetic differences between the first generation and the second are quite slim. Why change a recipe that works? The car is pretty well drawn, the lines are fluid and the design is aging quite well. The designers lingered on making the car a little more “masculine», They say, with taut lines and slightly more statutory shapes.
A rather welcoming interior
The interior is more in-depth compared to the first generation. It uses some elements of the fifth generation of the Renault Clio, mixed with certain orders of the Clio IV, in particular on the doors. The Clio V is much better assembled and manufactured than the Clio IV, so much the better for the Zoe. Generally, the Zoe is rather well finished, without however reaching the level of the new Clio at equivalent level of finish.
The Renault Zoe is equipped with a rather well-made digital instrumentation system, just like the central 9.3-inch touch screen of our test version in “Intens” finish. The navigation is rather fluid, the menus well ordered and the graphics neat. The “Easy Link” system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can plug your smartphone into one of the two USB-A ports located under the center console screen. Under the control of the gearbox, there is also an induction charger to charge your phone.
The trunk has a correct capacity with a capacity varying between 338 and 1225 liters, in particular thanks to the installation of the batteries under the floor. The Zoe is sold as a five-seater, but do not imagine squeezing three people in the back, or for very short journeys in a pinch.
A new engine and a revised battery
The other novelties are under the hood and under the floor of our Zoé. We thus find a new 52 kWh battery allowing an autonomy of 395 kilometers approved under the WLTP cycle. Another important element, even capital for an electric car, the arrival of a Combo CCS type socket with a maximum charging capacity of 50 kW (optional however at 1000 euros, on any level of finish). In addition to the 110 horsepower engine inaugurated in 2018 on the first generation of the Zoé, Renault is adding a new block of 135 horsepower and 245 Nm de couple in the catalog.
Regarding recharging, we may be surprised to have the right to only 50 kW in maximum capacity while the Peugeot e-208 and Opel Corsa-e go up to 100 kW. Renault justifies this by a lack of infrastructure at the moment, which does not necessarily require a load capacity of more than 50 kW. For a full recharge, the Zoé will claim 1h10 on a fast terminal, three hours on a 22 kW terminal and six hours on an 11 kW terminal. On a domestic socket, full charging will take 34 hours and 30 minutes to go from 0 to 100%, but this time can however be reduced by half (16 hours and 10 minutes) by installing a 3.7 kW Wallbox.
And on the road?
For our test session, we drove about 200 kilometers on roads mainly from the secondary network, with very few cities but also few highways. The route was also punctuated by a few switchbacks favoring the braking phases… but also those of acceleration. Moreover, let us specify that our model presented in the photo is an “Intens” finish with a few additional options. Which therefore adds weight to 1502 kilos announced empty. As a result, the approved autonomy on these models is not 395 kilometers in the WLTP cycle, but 360 kilometers, or 35 kilometers less. In reality, the 395 kilometers concern the Zoe with the “Life” finish, that is to say the entry level.
Disappointing, but that shouldn’t scare off customers since their use will be confined mainly to the city. Renault also specifies that following an internal study, the Zoe customer travels an average of 52 kilometers per day and charges his car in the evening at his home.
After these few details, we therefore sit aboard our Zoe and, problem, we have a little trouble finding our driving position. We are generally seated too high and the seats are not height adjustable. We almost had the impression of being in an SUV while in a car 4.08 meters long. Sitting like a tennis referee chair is a big no.
Fortunately, on the road, the Renault Zoé shares all its qualities with us. The speed ups are correct, the raises quite good. It is obviously not a lightning of war, but however, the Zoé benefits from one of the best driving amenities in its class. This is also the case on small roads where our mount has responded to each request.
The front axle does not crash too much on its supports, the roll grip is well controlled and the brake pedal is easily adjustable. Moreover, the transition between regenerative braking and friction braking is not too noticeable, which avoids having a pedal that is too soft at the start of the race and too abrupt at the halfway point. The suspensions are generally well calibrated, although a bit dry in compression on the small asperities. Nothing crippling, however.
On our test route, not really conducive to the conventional use of an electric car, we noted 13.8 kW / 100 kilometers, without engaging the famous “Eco” mode, very favorable to consumption, but restricting acceleration a little too much.
At what price?
The Renault Zoé starts from 32 300 euros (excluding ecological bonus of 7000 euros) in “Life” finish with the small 110 horsepower engine. At this price, there is no longer any question of battery rental as was the case at the start of the model’s career and on the first generation. Our test model in “Intens” finish is exchanged from 36 600 euros with the 135 horsepower engine, still excluding ecological bonus and possible conversion bonus.
The majority of customers essentially opt for a rental formula ranging from three to five years. Renault communicates on an offer from 109 euros per month, but it concerns a basic version, with the small engine, the scrapping of an old vehicle and a rather low mileage limit. The average monthly payment is rather around 300 euros for a properly equipped Zoe with an acceptable kilometer limit. Once again, it will all depend on your usage and needs.