Renault Zoe Review 2021 | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear
Car Review

Renault Zoe

£ 21,865 - £ 24,865
Published: 02 Oct 2019
Renault mends the bits that needed mending and leaves the bits that didn’t. A big step forwards.

Good stuff

Efficiency and range, more powerful motor, new interior, option to lease battery or buy outright, free wallbox

Bad stuff

Fast-charger not standard and ‘only’ 50kW, can’t carry four adults comfortably, driver’s seat not height adjustable


What is it?

Tiny EVs are about to become a big thing. Until now Renault’s had the market for such cars all to itself, but with the cute Honda e, long-awaited Mini Electric and Peugeot e-208/Corsa-e soon to land in dealers, life is about to get much more complicated for Europe’s best-selling electric car.

The new Zoe doesn’t totally rewrite the formula. It looks much the same as before, largely because underneath it’s still that same car - the one that was launched in 2012 and since upgraded with more efficient motors and bigger batteries.

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It’s exterior has been given a bit of a going over, but the interior is totally new - with a big portrait touchscreen and more soft-touch, high-end materials instead of the old car’s brittle plastics. Meanwhile new driver assistance tech like lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring ought to make this four-metre long city car feel less out of sorts on motorways.

The bigger battery and optional, more powerful ‘R135’ motor should have much the same effect. The former - a 52kWh pack that replaces the old car’s 41kWh battery - gives up to a third more range, for a claimed 245 miles between charges (that’s more, significantly more in some cases, than any of its rivals). The latter drops the 0-62mph time to under 10 seconds, and cuts the time taken for the Zoe to accelerate from 50 to 75mph by more than two seconds. As with all EVs, these two things cannot happen simultaneously.

Charging is quicker too, now that the Zoe supports DC charging up to 50kW via a CCS port hidden behind the Renault badge. The £750 option (boo. Why isn’t it standard, Renault?) means half an hour on such a charger is enough to add 90 miles of range. A normal 22kW roadside charger takes an hour to add 78 miles.

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Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Renault mends the bits that needed mending and leaves the bits that didn’t. A big step forwards.

Almost one in five electric cars sold in Europe is a Renault Zoe. It’s hugely popular - and with good reason. Renault says its customers didn’t want a massive re-design - but for the company to focus its efforts on key problem areas to keep costs low. Which is how we’ve ended up with an interior that’s leaps ahead of the old car’s, more driver assistance systems, a more powerful motor and even greater range for no more money. As heavy facelifts go, this is a good one. Plus the flexibility to lease the battery rather than buy the whole car outright means the Zoe is cheaper to buy than its main competitors. 

Competitors - something the Zoe hasn’t really had for the seven or so years it’s been on sale. Happily this year’s upgrade means when the likes of the Honda e, Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall e-Corsa eventually arrive, the Zoe won’t be outclassed. We’d be very surprised if it doesn’t continue to sell in pretty large numbers.

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