Driver appeal aside, I could easily ee myself living with one as my daily driver. Even though dashboard estimates rarely ever reached north of 200 miles after a full charge, range was never a concern. Then again, I currently have no commute, and with lockdown rules being what they are, most journeys were largely to the supermarket – which happened to have my nearest 50kW rapid charger.
With the Zoe arriving when it did, few of the longer journeys I had planned would come to fruition. The few times that called for mid-journey rapid charging, however, were essentially as smooth as a typical petrol pit stop, albeit with some extra downtime to check emails, stretch my legs or grab a coffee. On one occasion, a connection hiccup added half an hour to my wait when the car refused to charge, but the error (seemingly on the car’s side, rather than the charger’s) never repeated. The UK’s charging network has definitely improved since even a year ago when I last ran an EV: there are more providers, payment is simpler and, anecdotally, there seem to be a lot more rapid chargers about now. It meant that the fact I couldn’t charge at home was never an issue, but that’s largely because our Zoe had the optional fast-charge pack.
I’d argue no modern EV should be sold without a rapid charging capability, but on the Zoe it’s a £1000 extra. Some customers buy their Zoe as second cars and only charge at home or the office, but knowing you face a several-hour wait should you need to go on a longer journey is enough to put many people off making the switch to electric. We’ll have to wait until the reborn Renault 5 arrives to see if rapid charging becomes a standard feature.
Interestingly, a domestic three-pin cable is also considered an option. You only get a Type 2 charging cable as standard, so anyone looking to charge at home without a wallbox will need to factor in another cost.
So where does the Zoe stand now there’s no shortage of compact electric rivals on the market? And should you buy one over the equivalent Clio? If you want to get ahead of the 2030 ban and switch to electric today, the Zoe’s above- average range does give it an edge, even if the tech toys aren’t as fancy as a Honda E’s and it isn’t as fun to drive as a Mini Electric or Mazda MX-30.
In the shorter term, though, it would take several years of car tax and fuel bills to make up the £8000 difference between our test car and the Clio we ran before. If you value not burning fossil fuels every time you get behind the wheel, that difference becomes easier to justify, but I’d be tempted to enjoy the Clio’s plus points while I still can.