Oh dear. What should have been a celebration turned into a brief but massive irritation. After three months of waiting and some great service from Bristol Street Motors in Derby, our (well, the lease company’s) Renault Zoe arrived. Time for celebrations… we thought.
All was well until we reached the front passenger door, which turned out to be so badly hung that it didn’t actually shut unless it was assisted with an almighty slam and some serious shoving. I’d love to know what actually happens in a pre-delivery inspection if it doesn’t actually highlight a door that won’t shut.
Anyway, to cut an unhappy story short, the salesman left promising an immediate solution and then emailed the next day to suggest I take the car to the nearest dealer for a fix. I politely but firmly pointed out that I wasn’t minded to spend a day getting a car fixed that I hadn’t yet driven and then - praise be - someone put me on to the A-Team.
I’m a firm believer that mistakes happen, and that the real test of a company is how they fix problems. So when two chaps arrived the next day, having driven down to Twickenham from Derby, whisked the Zoe away to a local dealership and then returned within a couple of hours with everything fixed and a bottle of wine and some fancy flowers on the passenger seat, I was taken aback. So, too, was my wife when I handed her the flowers. Let’s hope she doesn’t read autocar.co.uk…
As I’ve mentioned before, this is not some fancy journalist’s deal; although Renault is aware that I’m a customer, I’ve bought the car with as little flag-waving fuss as possible. This blog aside, it’s a private lease for private use, because it’s the car my wife and I want. Bristol Street Motors insist they would have done the same for any customer, and given their superb track record during the purchase process, I’m inclined to accept that.
That said, I’ll also accept any criticism that says I’m being too soft - and blame it on a condition that is all too easy to forget: the excitement of the arrival of a new car. Look back in the cold light of day and sometimes your reactions when you’ve invested your time and money in something like choosing a new car defy belief. When the pictures you’ve pored over become reality and you can touch, feel and smell what you’ve been waiting for, it really is quite intoxicating.
It’s a feeling that could evaporate quickly, but the truth is that even in the first few hundred miles the Zoe has exceeded all our expectations. I love the instant torque around town and I find the silent, gliding progress especially relaxing. I like that I can park in central London without paying the Congestion Charge, and that there are VIP-style bays (all too often filled with BMW i8s, which you rather feel are taking the mickey, it must be said) around the smarter parts of London that are for the exclusive use of electric cars. There’s fun to be had, too, both away from the lights and in trying to use as little energy as possible.
In fact, my only problem has been wrestling the key card from my wife, whose car it is really meant to be. After years in a Ford C-Max, she’s finding it a revelation: perfect for popping from pool to pool in her job as a swimming teacher, small enough to park anywhere yet big enough to carry our kids (aged six and eight), quick enough to charge and never, given her local journeys, in danger of running out of juice.
I’ll leave it there for now, with a promise of more on the ownership experience next time. I’m particularly keen to get forensic on the real charging costs, how owning such a car focuses your mind on driving techniques and talking up the pleasure of discovering that there are active, friendly and helpful owners clubs out there to help ease the voyage of discovery. Suffice to say for now, it’s going very well indeed.