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First Drive

Dogood Zero review: it's tiny, it's electric and it's really cheap

£5,995 when new
610
Published: 29 Mar 2024
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What on earth is that? 

It’s a beauty, isn’t it? Well, it’s more beautiful when you hear that it’s the cheapest new car on sale in the UK. It’s the Dogood Zero, a quadricycle (think Citroen Ami and those little buzzy things that French kids can drive) powered by electricity and made by a freshly minted UK carmaker with grand plans to change the world.

You might, incidentally, have noted that said company has changed its name – Ark Motors became Dogood Motors at the end of last year. We're not sure why, but at least it hasn't meant expensive badge changes, because there aren't any badges anywhere on the car. Zero branding, if you will.

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And who is it aimed at?

It helps – especially when you’re driving it – to think of the Zero not as a stripped down car, but rather a fancy scooter. No really, the Zero is actually cheaper than one of those three-wheel Piaggio MP3s you can tumble about on a car licence. You can drive this on a moped, quadricycle or a car licence (Am, B1 or B), which is useful. Dogood recommends insuring it through a specialist motorcycle firm.

The Zero has an obviously narrow band of suitable users – city based commuters who are immune to embarrassment, with useful access to home/work charging and a manageable distance to cover. 

Does it drive as well as it looks? 

It’s a novel experience, driving the Zero. You can choose to climb in through either door (though if you’re as clumsy as us, you risk hurting your bum on the seatbelt if you pick the right-hand door), taking up the driving seat mounted centrally in a narrow but tall machine. You’ve got a simple dashboard ahead of you, but it covers all the basics.

Adjusting the wing mirrors is a simple case of dropping the electric windows and prodding them with a finger. A couple more button presses and away you go – not forgetting to disengage the floor mounted handbrake by your right leg.

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Acceleration is not the perky torque fest you’ll remember from other electric vehicles, the vibe is much more ‘middle aged man who just took up cycling again’. It keeps up on congested urban roads, but as soon as they clear up you’ll find other drivers getting annoyed and swamping you.

The brake pedal is fairly solid, but it does the trick – there’s no regen on the move, which is a shame as it would surely add a useful bit of range around town. Handling is of the fabled go-kart variety, which means that there’s a tangibly direct connection to the tiny wheels. The Zero has a very impressive turning circle and a reversing camera, so if you do ding it, it'll be quite the achievement.

The car’s 1,202mm width is decent, but you won’t be filtering through traffic in the Zero. It’s 2,500mm long, which Dogood reckons is short enough to park backwards to the kerb to save space.

So does it work?

The Zero comes with extreme caveats: it won’t work for lots of people. Or most people. It has its drawbacks, but none of them are worse than getting wet. The charging is slow, so you’d want access to a plug overnight to fill the car back up again.

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It’ll play music over the DAB radio or through a USB connection from your phone, though there’s nowhere to put it once you do that. We found the windscreen air vent useful for using the satnav.

There’s no boot to hide stuff away when you leave the car, but there is a very useful amount of storage behind the driver that’ll carry all your shopping, or enough clothes for a week away if you’re holidaying in, say, the next town along. That rear seat does mean you can bring a second person along for the ride, and there’s still a bit of space left over for some bags.

The top speed is billed at 28mph, but it takes a while and plenty of goodwill to get there, ideally helped by a slight slope. Your practical top speed is more like 20/22mph, which is fine in most modern built up areas. Or Welsh villages. Venturing onto 30mph roads demands plenty of Christian motoring from those around you; anything more than that not really advised. Especially not a trip to the seaside, for instance. The Zero doesn’t really like hills, either, which is something else to bear in mind.

Dogood is busy building up its retailer network, but says that you can have the car serviced at any garage so long as you get your mechanic to give them a ring first.

Give me some numbers…

The official WMTC range (it’s tested under the motorcycle procedure) is 50.3 miles, but we got less than 40 on a cold, incredibly wet day. There's no range estimate on the digital dash display, only a battery meter that our physics GCSE had not equipped us to understand.

The motor is rated at 3bhp (not a typo); as such, there are no acceleration numbers worth investigating. The battery is a 4.8kWh number (very impressive efficiency if you get within even a sniff of the official range) and has a Type 1 charger at the back.

That cable has a UK plug on the other end, though you can get an adapter to use it with single phase on-street charge points. Bear in mind that wherever you plug it in you’ll only be drawing between 1 and 2kW. Bring a book.

As standard you get a sunroof, keyless start, reversing camera, Bluetooth, DAB radio and a USB plug. There aren’t actually any options, it all comes usefully bundled at the one price. Is it mean that we’ve made you wait until the bottom to tell you? Probably.

You can order a Zero on the Dogood website today for £5,995 (in white, black or grey – there’s a red one for £7,495 the company introduced as a “festive Christmas option”) and it’ll arrive in a couple of months, presumably from China. That makes it a princely £1,700 cheaper than the Citroen Ami, but more expensive than walking.

Should I actually buy one?

There are some questions in life that even the experts can’t answer for you, sometimes you just have to follow your heart. If your heart is leading you in the direction of a Dogood Zero and its terrifying grin, who are we to argue? We can see them as company pool cars for hipster start-up gig companies, estate agents and the like.

A Zero would certainly be a step up from an e-bike or scooter, though less practical to park once you’ve reached your destination (unless your company provides quadricycle racks by the bins). It’s cheap to fill up with electricity – it would cost around £1.20 at current UK prices, which is less than most one-way bus fares. 

Will the Zero change the world? Let’s say no. But we’re glad someone’s having a go, at least. 

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