I’m still on a mission to dispel the notion that electric cars (EVs) are only really suitable for urban life and bumbling around towns and cities. Unless you need a car for regular long commutes that bypass any charging points then an EV will most likely cover all of your journey requirements.

Renault is of course also trying to persuade the car buyers’ market that EVs are easy to live with. In their brochure they compare charging an electric to charging a mobile phone – simply put it on charge when you go to sleep.

The Renault Zoe has now leaped forward in terms of range, too, offering a claimed real word figure of between 124 miles (winter conditions) and 186 miles in temperate condition – ample for most of us when you consider the average daily mileage of people in the UK is less than 28 miles (according to the 2016 New Car Buyer Survey).

The Zoe is funky and modern in looks, though endearingly looks inflated, slightly like a hot air balloon, ready for take-off. This is combined with a surprisingly conventional cabin layout – it’s non-fussy and isn’t trying too hard. Everything is pleasant and simple to use yet there’s still a decent level of equipment as standard and plenty of options on top. 

I can assure you though; the Zoe certainly isn’t full of ’hot air’ (despite its cute, inflated looks) and has a very clear purpose – to provide an affordable electric car to the mass market.

That doesn’t mean to say that it’s soulless and boring either – it’s got a bit of the French flare, especially evident in the drive – it feels the least cumbersome and the most nimble of all the EVs I’ve driven to date. This is party down to the new battery having double the capacity in the same dimensions and located under the floor, giving a good centre of gravity and also leaving all the boot and cabin space uninterrupted. It’s honestly fun to drive with a superb chassis, perhaps unsurprising given Renault’s success in Formula E.

So this brings me on to what is the key to the success of the Zoe: affordability. Whilst there are other EVs and hybrids that have a more premium feel, they are often pretty dear to buy. The Zoe is one of the most accessible and rounded propositions of all.

If you sift through the information given by Renault (and the asterisks and footnotes) which can be a little confusing, then you basically have to firstly consider the different options of buying the car itself and then the separate options of buying or hiring the batteries. For example the Dynamique Nav R90 ZE 40, as test driven, has a quoted OTR price of £17,845 and then the battery hire is on top of that and goes up incrementally, depending on your annual mileage – up to 10,500 miles per year would mean monthly payments of £89 (sounds quite a lot, but think of the fuel you’d save). You do also have the option to buy the car and battery outright – the same model would then cost a quoted £24,445 OTR. However a Plug in Car Grant is available up to £4.5k towards the total cost.

I keep saying this, but if you’re looking at getting a new car, at least put an EV in the mix for consideration. And the Zoe Z.E.40 is one of the most user-friendly, practical and affordable on offer; perfect for most daily commuting, meetings and chores. And think of the CSR benefits and PR opportunities!



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