At £13,650 OTR (after the government’s £5k ‘plug-in’ grant) the Zoe will be the cheapest EV on the market. It’s also got the best-quoted range, with a maximum of 130 miles (or 60 miles in cold weather in the city – Renault’s idea of the typical ‘worst case scenario’) from each charge, plus Quick Drop battery tech so power packs can theoretically be swapped in three minutes.
Quick Drop infrastructure won’t be available in the UK when the Zoe arrives in the autumn, and Renault can’t tell us when – or if – it will.
Design-wise, the Zoe holds true to the concept shown in 2010 apart from the latest family headlamp/grille graphic added by new Renault design boss Laurens Van den Acker. The exterior is credited to Jean Semeris, whose ‘Petite Souris’ (the original sketch had a cute mouse-like demeanour before the new nose graphic was applied) was chosen from a range of internal designs. Semeris concentrated on “expressing harmonious movement”, rather than attempting to create something avant-garde in homage to EV technology, and the car is more svelte than the Modus whose dimensions it (approximately) shares.
A 2.58m wheelbase and 4.08m length mean there’s a ‘wheel at each corner’ stance, and deep body sides designed to hide the Zoe’s battery pack account for its 1.73m height. The battery is sandwiched under a 20cm high platform running aft from the front seats. Under the bonnet there’s a 65kw (89hp) motor, which drives the front wheels directly, top speed being limited to 84mph. Interestingly Renault has yet to reveal overall vehicle weight, but the car’s construction is conventional steel monocoque.
Inside there are three trim levels, an entry-level and a pair of themed luxury versions called ‘Techno’ and ‘Zen’. The latter includes an air toxicity sensor, ‘relaxing’ air ioniser and scent diffusers thanks to a tie-up with L’Oreal.