Up until recently, the Zoe used to be Europe’s best-selling electric vehicle and it used to have the cute supermini end of the market all to itself.
Now it’s facing tough competition from the likes of the Honda e, MINI Electric, Fiat 500e, Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e.
Renault has been careful to keep evolving the Zoe since its debut in 2013, so that its looks stay sharp, the on-board technology is up to date and the range has increased (from an original 130 miles to 238 miles).
It’s no longer a plain old Renault Zoe either. Since 2021 it’s been marketed as the Renault Zoe E-Tech Electric in line with the French giant’s EV strategy, with the stunning new Renault Megane E-Tech Electric family hatch leading the way.
The current Zoe five-door hatchback was introduced in late 2019, and is a major update on the pioneering original rather than an all-new model.
Offered with a larger 52kWh capacity battery and a 134bhp electric motor that drives the front wheels, it’s ageing well.
The first thing you notice inside is that the driving position is high. It might be a deal-breaker for some, but finding a comfortable driving position isn’t such a problem.
The build quality and materials used are above average, but not in the Mazda CX-30 or MINI Electric league. The boot capacity is surprisingly good and beats most of its supermini rivals with 338 litres, expanding to 1,225 litres with the 60/40 rear seats flipped down.
Mind you, there’s an annoyingly big lip at the boot entrance, and it’s a shame that, when you fold down the rear seatbacks (which have a 60/40 split), you’re left with a big step in the floor of the extended load bay.
There are two trim levels (Techno and Iconic) and both come with a clear 9.3-inch portrait-orientated touchscreen infotainment system located in the middle of the dashboard. There’s also a 10.0-inch digital display behind the steering wheel which can be configured to show essential driving info.
The integrated TomTom system provides real-time updated navigation information. Naturally, there’s also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, while the My Renault application enables you to plan your trips, send your destination to the vehicle remotely, and locate available charging stations around you.
On the road, the Zoe is swift, but not overly so. It’s official 0-62mph acceleration figure is 9.5 seconds and top speed is 90mph.
It’s in its element zipping around in an urban environment where it’s possible to adjust the regenerative braking to allow for one-pedal driving. Simply lift off the gas and it will provide virtually all the necessary braking.
With light steering, decent visibility and instant torque, there’s good grip and it’s smooth and refined.
It’s fairly tall as superminis go, so push it on more challenging roads and there is noticeable body lean, but it still handles tidily in everyday driving.
The Zoe can be charged overnight using a 7.4kW wallbox, while a 0-80% boost on a 50KW public charger will take just over an hour.
Finally, it’s worth noting that when the original Zoe was launched in 2013, it picked up the maximum five-star safety score from Euro NCAP. However, when the evolved model was re-tested in 2021, it got a zero-star safety rating.
Euro NCAP’s standards have been raised significantly, but it seems Renault failed to improve the safety equipment over that period – actually removing crucial head protection airbags. Ultimately, the Zoe is not unsafe, it just doesn’t feature as many safety features as many rivals.