Driving Miss Dashboard: Reviewing the Renault Zoe

  • Renault Zoe
  • Renault Zoe
  • Renault Zoe
  • Renault Zoe
  • Renault Zoe
  • Renault Zoe
  • Renault Zoe

A little electric car with a great big range - Alexandra Tilley Loughrey has an ‘electrifying’ time in the new Renault Zoe

Whenever I drive an electric car, guaranteed, the first question people ask is ‘how often do you have to charge it?’ This relates to the modern phenomenon known as ‘range anxiety.’ Well, worry not - this car can realistically do a journey of 150 miles without going anywhere near a charging point.

Yes, 150 miles, which means I can drive from little old Temple Guiting to London without having to stop - and happily do a return trip to Oxford, Birmingham, Bristol, Swindon, Stratford upon Avon - you get the drift.

And thanks to credible online websites that direct you to real dealerships (plus the government grant you currently get towards buying any electric car) you can own a brand new Zoe for about the same price as most traditional hatchbacks. And that means that Zoe (we got on so well, she felt like part of the family) is a serious contender for a second car - which to me is a really exciting thing to be able to say in 2017. The future is here!

Getting to Oxford was about the same as bombing along in our (air polluting) diesel Golf. I arrived in about the same time, although the actual driving experience was significantly different.

Driving with Zoe makes you more ‘fuel efficient’ and considerate - you’re less likely to floor the accelerator - as doing this chews up the electricity and reduces your range. You’re aware that the more miles you can get from your charge, the cheaper it will be to drive.

On country lanes I tended to use ‘eco mode’ for a gentler pace, but when I hit the Witney bypass and needed to overtake, a quick press of the button gave me the necessary oomph. If you thought Candy Crush was addictive, try coasting (not using the accelerator) and braking (the brakes are regenerative) - which can actually gain you miles, especially when driving down hills!

Being electric, Zoe is automatic and as easy to drive (though considerably smoother, with a far better turning circle) as a dodgem car. The controls are really easy to use and the dashboard shows simple images of charging, driving range and speed.

But being electric (I hate to say but, as it implies something awful) the more devices you use - such as charging your phone, using the aircon or electric seats - will have an effect on the battery range. But, really, don’t panic - you’ll still be able to commute to Oxford, or Swindon, or Bristol - and get home with plenty of driving miles to spare.

Charging electric cars is getting easier almost every day, as more and more fast chargers are being installed on streets, in car parks, supermarkets and service stations. I charged from an almost empty range to 100% full overnight in our garage on a standard three-pin plug - and using a fast charger only took two hours.

It really is as easy as charging a mobile phone, which we all do, at various points throughout the day - with a full-on boost overnight. And the best bit - charging from empty costs the grand total of about £2! Compare that with the cost of fuel every time you fill up at the pump.

Apart from wishing the monthly battery hire could be cheaper (I’m sure this will happen), I have one gripe. Trying to fit the chargers back into the bags provided in the (very large for a small car) boot was as difficult as getting iPhone earphones back into their original box. But overall, I’d put this down as a ‘first world problem.’

Do realise that air pollution is a real and dangerous threat to our planet. Choose life. Choose electric.

Fast facts

Fuel consumption: No more trips to petrol stations - ever

Road tax: £0

Safety: The maximum five star European (EURO NCAP) safety rating thanks to numerous head and chest airbags.

Media: An easy to use touch screen system which accesses radio, sat nav, blue-tooth connection - as well as a Renault app that locates charging points, which is ideal for planning longer journeys.

This seasons colours: A palette of eight options, six with a Farrow and Ball bias, plus the louder Zircon Blue and Mars Red.

The drive: From smooth and sensible on eco mode, to far more punchy without. Love the hill-start assist feature - no fear of sliding backwards.

This years model: There are six to choose from: Expression Nav, Dynamique Nav, Signature Nav or three ‘i’ Nav options, depending on whether you want to own or lease your battery, and what sort of charger you’re prepared to pay for.

Optional extras: Alloy wheels, BOSE 3D surround sound multimedia system, DAB radio, TomTom LIVE sat nav, parking camera. The list goes on…

Warranty: 4 years (up to 100,000 miles)

Price: From £14,245 (though there are discounts to be had with online dealers) plus monthly optional battery hire, from £49.

Follow Alexandra on Twitter @MissDashboardUK for a refreshing take on cars.