- Max Speed
Van? That looks like a car to me…
That’s the joy of the Renault Zoe Van. Or the Renault Zoe Van E-Tech Electric to give it its full title. It’s just as lithe as the Zoe car, as simple to park and see out of, and equally as efficient.
But surely it’s not a big van…
Well, no, it’s not a long-wheelbase Master in disguise. The load bay measures 1.2 by 1.1 metres, the payload 387 kilos. In Renault’s own words it’s for ‘small but bulky items’. A well-fed French bulldog, perhaps.
Four anchorage points will help you to tie your Frenchie down while the protective rubber flooring will make any whoopsies easy to mop up. A high floor means your hench best friend will probably need a bit of assistance getting in there, though.
I don’t have a dog, but I do have a small eco-minded business.
Then you’ll find there’s a heck of a lot to like. While the load area ain’t massive, it’s bigger than in something like the Suzuki Jimny van. And like Renault’s berserk Megane Trophy R two-seater before it, the five-door layout remains, though here there's black vinyl stuck over the windows to keep your items hidden from view. Dragging longer, heavier things in just got that little bit easier.
Does it drive like a regular Renault Zoe?
Yes, which is to say really quite smartly indeed. One criticism of electric cars at the moment is that they rarely have a character of their own, that it’s difficult for their powertrains to stand proud of each other. Thus an electric supercar may end up sounding just like an electric supermini.
The flipside of which is that an electric supermini may end up feeling like a scaled-down electric supercar, albeit with its acceleration stunted above 50mph or so. If you’ve stuffed your Zoe van to the gunnels, though, that’ll be of zero concern. It zips up to 30mph with the alacrity of any EV north of a G-Wiz, then settles at a near-silent cruise as you bashfully make your way between goods deliveries.
It’s a van! Surely refinement’s taken a hit?
Not in any tangible way. This is a car with the back seats chiselled out rather than a plywood-lined boxed with a three-seat bench and an engine plonked on the front, so there’s none of the disconcerting echo as you bimble about that commercial vehicles usually inflict upon folk more used to civilian transport.
The dashboard and driving modes are as per the stock Zoe, too. So you’ve ‘Eco’ to limit throttle sharpness and extend your fully charged range up to 245 miles, or its punchy 109bhp/166lb ft outputs if you’d rather get about the place with a bit more eagerness. Its claimed 11.4secs 0-62mph time is a red herring – the Zoe nudges urban speed limits in a jiffy and you’ll never think it slow unless you’ve somehow ended up on Thruxton race circuit.
How much are we talking?
Prices start at a whisker over £25,000 before VAT, undercutting the Zoe passenger car, or £28,740 with the tax rolled back in, which puts it at a few hundred quid more. We’d expect most people will be leasing these, though, at which point prices you’re looking at £259 a month.
That gets you a heap of equipment – 10in TFT dials, a 7in media screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, air con, cruise control and keyless entry are all standard, while you can option sat nav, a reversing camera, 16in alloys and lane-keep assist, among other goodies.
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What’s the verdict?
It utterly charmed me, the Zoe van. Its use-case is limited to businesses of a very specific sort – carrying goods often enough to need your own van, those goods being a size that warrants a car without seats rather than one with the seats simply flipped down – but if you think it’ll meet your needs, it’s hugely likeable and drives just as neatly and quietly as its passenger-ferrying base.
If your artisan store is located deep in the middle of a city, shipping items in and out of it in a purely electric vehicle surely likely isn’t far off being a necessity anyway. The Zoe Van will be a thoroughly pleasing way to do it.