Roof is transparent and carries solar cells
Zoe is slightly larger than a current Clio
Zoe will never make production - it is just a test bed for designers' ideas
Supermini-sized four-seater has a gullwing door each side
A strong sense of set-off torque
Engine packs 94bhp and 167lb ft of torque
Rattles and squeaks are typical of a prototype
Double-fold rear seats have hinged backrests
1400kg car has a top speed of around 90mph
This prototype was the least resolved of the Renault quartet
Boot access is through twin rear doors
Drive badly and he'll be telling you all about it
Roof-mounted solar panels charge battery
Steering and suspension systems are unresolved
We're guessing from the 'tache that this isn't the Alonso avatar
Cameras for wing mirrors reduce drag
Zoe showcases designers' electric car ideas
First DriveMuch-improved range and same suite of strengths make the Zoe an EV that more people than ever before can now consider
First DriveWe test Renault's Zoe, an electric supermini that's designed for everyday use
What is it?
Zoe is the most advanced of Renault’s new family of four battery-powered models shown recently at the Frankfurt show to publicise the company’s position as a leader in electric car technology.
This one, a gull-winged supermini slightly larger than a current Clio, is the only one of the Regie quartet which doesn’t look as it will in production (due before the end of 2012). That's because the company’s hyperactive designers have used it as a reporitory for electric-car ideas they’ve been storing up for ages.
What's it like?
It’s a teardrop-shaped, front-drive supermini-sized four-seater, with one huge gullwing door each side giving access to front and rear compartments at once.
The engine packs 94bhp, develops 167lb ft of torque from standstill, and can propel this 1400kg-plus machine at speeds close to 90mph.
Driving is a bit iffy – this prototype was the least resolved of the Renault quartet – but you still get the sense of powerful step-off torque, near silence and impressive smoothness, spoiled a bit by rattles and squeaks typical of a prototype, and yet-unresolved suspension and steering systems. It’ll come.
Still, the interior details are amazing. Every seat looks different, the looming fascia architecture is like no production car, and its central screen features an avatar (ours looked and sounded like Fernando Alonso), who gives you energy-saving hints as you drive, and admonishes you if you make a mistake.
Boot access is through twin rear doors, both hinged down the rear spine of the car. Inside of the usual double-fold hatchback’s rear seats, each of the rear seat backrests hinges rearwards into the body sides, a brilliantly simple solution.
The roof is transparent and carries solar cells which feed the car’s ancillary systems, and the battery is chargeable in situ with either household or three-phase power, or exchangable for a fresh one at one of the new Quickdrop centres that Renault intends to establish.
Should I buy one?
No chance, I’m afraid. There’ll be something like this on the market in 2012, but you’ll never get the gullwing doors (too cumbersome and expensive) and some of the interior stuff is just too outlandish to live a life in production. But some of the design will survive. The name, too, could make it onto a High Street near you.