Early designs for the Zoe were far more radical than the car you see here. Renault says the first sketches for the Zoe were made in 2008 and set about reinventing the car. 

Later, it realised that customers have grown quite accustomed to cars as they already know them and, presumably, an accountant figured that using existing architecture would be a financially smart thing to do, so the production Zoe is loosely based on the same platform that underpins the last-generation Clio, albeit clothed in what is, to our eyes, a more distinctive, prettier skin.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The original concept was a thinly veiled version of the production version of the Renault Zoe

This means that the Zoe has a steel monocoque with space for major mechanicals where you’d expect them – under the bonnet, where an engine would normally go (which is where the motor and associated electrics are sited) and beneath the rear seats, where a fuel tank would usually be (and where, under the floor towards the rear, you’ll find the batteries here). 

Front suspension is by MacPherson strut, as in the Clio, but with a beefier, Mégane-sourced front subframe, and at the rear there is a torsion beam, with coil springs all round. 

The electric drivetrain adds a fair amount of weight to this B-segment car, which tipped our scales at 1465kg, and we’ll come to the effect of that in a moment.

The weight is biased slightly towards the nose, unsurprisingly, because that’s where sits the charging unit, the power controllers and the 87bhp or 90bhp synchronous electric motor (depending on which trim you choose), which drives the front wheels.

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