Thus far in its life, the Zoe has done much to win people over to the case for all-electric motoring. The new R90 model, however, is set to take a major step forward in that area – by offering a range of up to 250 miles.
Renault says this new version of the Zoe has ‘the greatest range of any mainstream electric vehicle.’ Even taking into account the fact that in the real world, you’ll only be able to travel a little more than 185 miles between charges, that’s still 75% more than the existing model.
The new Zoe has high-tech batteries which allow this greater range without being any bigger, or heavier, than those in the standard model. It comes with a 7kW fast charger for your home and a sat-nav system that can take you to the nearest public charging point.
Renault says this all goes together to put range anxiety in the past. So, does it?
Being no heavier than the standard Zoe, the R90 handles with the same tight body control and eager turn-in. This makes it very agile around town, and as is normal for EVs its acceleration through the range of city speeds makes it ideal for nipping around in traffic. With 166lb ft from 0rpm, the throttle pedal is more like an on-off switch.
It’s best kept in town, though. On the open road, overtaking is a bit of an event – and with greater weight than the Clio, on which it’s based, the Zoe doesn’t do as well on faster corners. We certainly didn’t find it crying out for more speed, though, so we left it in Eco mode and adjusted our driving style to take account of the extra twentyish miles this would give us.
In the event, over the course of our test drive the range indicator on the dash turned out to be accurate to within a mile. So we’re minded to trust what it was telling us when a session of spirited driving caused it to drop quickly – before a gentle run brought it right back.
Thus we can say with some confidence that the figure of 185 miles, or a touch more, is trustworthy. And we can also say that the only other electric vehicle we’ve driven that can keep going for so long on a charge is the Tesla P60D – which of course costs way more than the Zoe.
All the same, at £19,895 plus £59 a month for battery rental, or £25,495 to buy outright, this is still an expensive supermini. Consider the miniscule running costs, however, and you can certainly make a case for it – especially now you’ll be able to drive it so much further without needing to plug it in.
Fact is, the Zoe is a good, usable five-door hatch whose cabin, if somewhat dated, is very well equipped and whose excellent all-round drivability makes it an easy car to live with. It’s going to appeal strongly to people taking the EV plunge for the first time.
2016 Renault Zoe R90 Z.E.40 Signature
Price £19,895 plus battery rental from £59pcm or £25,495 outright
Engine Electric motor
Power 91bhp at 3000rpm
Torque 166lb ft from 250rpm
Gearbox Single-ratio, ‘reducer’
Kerb weight 1480kg; 0-62mph 13.2sec
Top speed 84mph
Range 250 miles
Rivals Nissan Leaf; BMW i3
John Calne is a writer for AutoCar.
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