We're now four months into life with the Renault Zoe, and from the perspective of the car it's going swimmingly.
As ever, intriguing newness has turned to familiarity over time. The joy of silent propulsion and instant torque has become the norm, and we now take for granted the ease with which we can slip into traffic gaps or out of junctions, and the calm cabin ambience that only wheel noise interrupts. For life on the roads around the outskirts of London, these are all great plus points.
Charging the car is also built into weekly life. In the depths of winter the claimed range sunk below 60 miles, but because we rarely travel more than 20 miles a day in the Zoe it was never an issue. It's worth remembering too that you don't need to charge it to the brim every time - if you need to top up and go, 40 minutes plugged into the wall nets a very healthy boost of mileage. Furthermore, now Spring has sprung and temperatures are up, it's becoming less and less of an issue. The Zoe has slotted into family life without issue, and unremarkable though they may sound, it is in many ways the greatest credit I could give it.
What has been disappointing was a run-in with Renault Finance regarding our direct debit on the battery lease. The original form was incorrectly filled in by the dealer and, despite us correcting it, it was never set in the system properly. Cue lots of phone calls to my phone (because that's logged as the primary number), passed messages to my wife (whose car it is, and so with whom they will only talk to), followed by more calls back and forth - culminating three months in with a fine and amended credit score despite our best efforts.
I'm loathe to point the finger entirely at Renault, but the cause of the issue initially was its paperwork being incorrectly filled in, and it was pretty absurd that they couldn't tally the fact that we were paying for the car on the same account, without trouble, but not the battery. That we had to back pay a missed payment over the phone once was a pain. That they then didn't keep our corrected details and sent through the semi-nuclear penalty letter the following month was irritating. That it then took two hours of back and forth phone calls to get a refund and apology was borderline relationship ruining.
Chances are we're early enough in our two-year lease to forget about the massive inconvenience come renewal time. But it's also a reminder that car companies can't expect to be judged on the quality of their products alone. Renault has made giant strides in customer service in recent years, but on this occasion it fell well short of expectations. A hiccup then, and not one that is likely to dent our positive experiences so far, but a shame nevertheless.
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