In the company of Renault Zoe
A girlâ€™s world review
As an electric vehicle aficionado I jumped at the chance to take Renault Zoe, the latest addition to the French car manufacturerâ€™s lekky car collection, for a four-day jaunt.
Of course, I want to talk about Zoeâ€™s appearance first. And why not, as itâ€™s certainly a head-turning, pretty-looking motor effortlessly bucking the trend of the aesthetically-challenged electric cars of the past.
Its exterior design is sleek and futuristic; sweeping squinty headlights and a cute rounded nose complete with an oversized Renault badge doubling as the charging point adorn the front, while its beautiful backside is perfectly complemented with a large round bumper and small brake lights set at the outer edges.
Upon further inspection, I discovered that the hidden rear door handles pleasingly bear the thumb print of Zoeâ€™s designer Jean SĂ©mĂ©riva. Nice touch, Renault.
The Zoeâ€™s interior doesnâ€™t disappoint either. The dash is well laid-out and its touch-screen system is super-sleek with clear and easy-to-use menus. And while the use of some cheap-feeling plastics here and there was disappointing, the overall feel was undoubtedly ultra-modern.
Itâ€™s clever too: the dash display area informs how economically you’re driving. The digital readout glows green for eco-driving, blue if you’re a bit heavy on the metal and violet if you’re consuming a lot more power than necessary. Another smart touch is the ability to warm up the carâ€™s interior remotely, perfect for frosty mornings.
Any electric car is not good for long distance treks, and the Zoe is no different. The gearless, automatic design is especially built for city driving and its range falls short of 100 miles. As most of my initial impressions of the Zoe were mainly gathered on long stretches of more rural roads rather than city streets, I did experience a few bouts of range anxiety.
Somewhat naively, I was expecting to be able plug the Zoe into the mains and easily charge her overnight. This was not the case. To my chagrin, I was restricted to using public charging points leading to a mad-capped quest to charge the Zoe as her power speedily drained away.
Two attempts to charge up Zoe in the market town of Morpeth, Northumberland failed me due to unexplained technical glitches. Eventually I was led, thanks to the handy Charge Your Car iPhone app, to a lovely Northumbrian cheese farm where a charger was thankfully was in order. While this presented me with a good excuse to sit in a warm cafĂ© while the Zoe rebooted, it did mean that I lost nearly a whole working afternoon; not a practical or convenient arrangement for most.
To be fair, however, it should be noted that a home wall charger is included in the purchase price.
Clearly with its limited range, the Zoe is not going to be the average motoristâ€™s first car. As a second urban run around itâ€™s ideal. Available from an acceptable ÂŁ13,650 and with the addition of the ÂŁ5,000 government grant itâ€™s affordable, has bags of character, drives pretty well and, in my opinion, is one of the more attractive electric vehicles on the market.
To enquire about Renault Zoe tweet @WORGC or visit Drivebenfield.Â