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In-depth reviews

Renault ZOE hatchback - Electric motor, drive & performance

The Renault ZOE is quiet and nippy around town, but in other regards feels 'normal'

Carbuyer Rating

3.6 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.3 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Electric motor, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Renault ZOE's ride quality is firm but not uncomfortable. On UK roads at lower speeds, only the worst road surfaces are really noticeable. At motorway speeds, the ZOE is only truly composed on the smoothest roads but it does make up for this lack of refinement with near-silent running. The ZOE is a very relaxing car to drive as a result, although it does make a distinctive noise at lower speeds to warn pedestrians and cyclists of its presence.

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Also, because of its electric motor, the car picks up speed pretty quickly – it’s great at dashing away from the traffic lights or nipping into a small gap in traffic. There’s enough power to make town driving easy and maintain motorway speeds with relative ease. However, with the ZOE in range-maximising ‘Eco’ mode, the car’s performance is noticeably slower thanks to a pressure step in the travel of the accelerator pedal that prevents you from using full power unless you really need it.

While it offers brisk pace in a straight line, the ZOE’s larger batteries mean it’s not a car for keen drivers. Weighing in at nearly 400kg heavier than a Clio, it does have a tendency to roll around in slow, sharp corners, which makes it feel a bit lethargic at times. There’s very little feel in the steering too, but it is at least nicely weighted. The driving experience is not helped by the driver’s seat either, which lacks support and doesn’t offer height adjustment.

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The more powerful R135 electric motor boasts 28bhp extra power over the discontinued R110 models and lots more power than the old Q90 model, which further drops the time it takes to accelerate between 50 and 75mph. As a result, it’s better to drive on fast A-roads and motorways, although your battery range will drop pretty quickly if you make the most of its performance.

Just like the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, Renault says the ZOE can be driven with a single pedal. Even in its strongest ‘B’ mode, the regenerative braking is not as effective as the Leaf or i3, so coasting up to a junction to come to a halt without using the brakes requires a little anticipation.

Around town, the raised driving position is beneficial as it gives good visibility of the road ahead. The ZOE is easy to park, too, especially with the rear parking sensors that are standard on the Iconic and GT Edition models.

Renault ZOE electric motor

The ZOE is now only available with the R135 motor, which offers more power and range than the discontinued R110 option. Acceleration from 0-62mph in R135 models takes 9.5 seconds – almost two seconds quicker than the R110.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    100kW Techno R135 50kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £29,995

Most Economical

  • Name
    100kW Techno R135 50kWh Boost Charge 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £31,195

Fastest

  • Name
    100kW Techno R135 50kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £29,995

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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