REVIEW: Renault ZOE Z.E. 40
Our 3rd EV review and it’s with one of the best selling EVs in Europe, the Renault ZOE. Thanks to Renault Ireland for lending us this car for a week. The model we got to drive around in was the Signature Nav R110 Z.E. 40 model.
The ZOE was first muted back in 2009 and was to be the electric sister to the ever popular Clio. The Z.E. 20, which was the first version with a smaller battery, was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012 with production models hitting the streets in 2013. That model had a 22kWh battery pack. The model we got to test out for the week was the Z.E. 40 variation with a 41 kWh which is only slightly heavier. Around 170 ZOE’s are made per day. Fun fact, the Z.E. badge is Renault’s mark for Zero Emissions.
The ZOE has not really changed its look since the first version back in 2013. There are a few detail changes here and there with trim details on our model such as the BOSE sound system, “Signature” upholstery and a parking camera. You may think it’s a small car when you see one of these on the road but looks can be deceptive. The team at TheEffect.net all climbed in and there was a surprising large amount of room.
We found the overall build quality of a high standard. This is not an expensive car with prices starting below €25,000. It can feel like there is a little too much plastic but the seats in the top of the range model we had were leather and sporty in nature. Everything fitted together as it should. To save weight, the rumour is that sound proofing may be a lower end of the scale but we did a drive to Cork and back on the motorway with no issue with the driving noise.
The Zoe is not the market leader in this department but it does a decent job for the price. The screen is a little small for our liking and the Android Auto link can be a little glitchy but overall the standard of spec on this car was good. We had the Bose® sound system which is really worth it seeing as engine noise is not an issue. The reversing camera is also a nice feature but is starting to be seen as the norm now on most cars.
The ZOE also comes with 3 different choices of artificial noise to warn pedestrians. The noise selected was very futuristic and the Sci-Fi fans on the team were reminded of Star Trek Discovery on Netflix. The dashboard has a narrow postbox shape TFT display and you can change it’s appearance but be warned, this will also change the sound of your indicator and they you need to decide whether the cowbell sound is worth it.
Range and Battery
Now this is where you start to get some extra bang for your buck at this price point. The ZOE is the only mainstream car with this type of charging system. It is fitted with a Chameleon charger which has a charging time of between 2.5 and 13.5 hours depending on power supply and that is what makes this car stand out. It can take from 2kW up to 43kW which is great for not having to worry about which charging stations will fit your car. *Updated to clarify – The R90 version can take up to 22 kW and the Q90 version can take up to 43 kW but has a slightly lower range.
This charger adapts to different power levels which are available at charging points and can take full advantage of the maximum output of the majority of the ecars charging network which is operated by the ESB in Ireland. The 41 kWh battery is similar to the Nissan LEAF but with a lighter car, the range is better and, like other EVs, there is also an ECO mode that will help with the range also.
*Update on range after numberous requests. We find range is very subjective due to weather, temperature and time of day. The expected range is 400 km (250 mi) under the NEDC cycle. Renault have stated that owners should expect around 300 km.
We really like the ZOE and the value for money you can get for an EV starting at sub €25,000. The fact the charging system is also adaptable is a big winner in our eyes. This car is definitely something you should consider if the physical size suits your needs. This version represents excellent value as there is a newer model being released this year. We feel this model is still good looking and will age gracefully unlike some of the other EVs available in the market.