A fresh and futuristic electric car

Then comes along the Renault Zoe (Zero Emissions).

I’d be lying if I said my heart doesn’t sink whenever an electric car turns up at Motors HQ for a test. It just seems like hard work – working out how far you need to travel, checking the battery level available and then faffing around with charging cables.

But then I open the Zoe’s door and it looks … stunning.


There’s no drab, grey interior here – lots of white plastic and some nice digital displays.

The Star Wars geek in my thought it screamed Stormtrooper…

It’s comfortable and there’s an air of quality and technology all around.

Foot on the brake, press the Start button and the car comes alive. Not that you’d know it though because, being electric, it’s as quiet when fired up as it is turned off.

And this is where it gets good again.

There’s something magical about the way an electric car moves – it glides away, silently.

Except the Zoe has ZE Voice – an artificial noise that sounds like some kind of SFX you’d hear on Star Trek’s Enterprise. It’s all a bit spacey-sounding, and designed to work at low speeds to warn pedestrians that you’re there. It’s noticeable from inside, but not annoyingly loud, and can be turned off on each trip if you choose.

While driving the Zoe, there’s a flurry of excitement at the low-speed power available underfoot that’s mixed with concern over the damage that acceleration does to your battery life.

I never even got close to worrying about running low on juice, but that’s because I’ve learned from my past experiences and didn’t get too ambitious with my destinations.

After each full charge the Zoe told me I had roughly 70 miles of range.

So I stuck to routes that were no further than about 20 miles away, meaning I’d always have a bit extra for diversions, getting lost or just being able to put my foot down.

But the range meter stayed rather true to its estimates on all my trips, and on some regular commutes between Truro and Falmouth I ended up using even less “miles” than those I’d actually travelled.

Despite feeling like it’s carrying a bit of extra weight with all those batteries, the Zoe was totally comfortable and fun to drive.

If you’re brave enough to keep your foot down (on a closed track, obviously) then the Zoe will get to a top speed of 84mph.

Nought to sixty might be 13.5 seconds but bear in mind that nought to thirty is only four seconds. It’s wonderfully nippy for around town and while not intended for long journeys over dual carriageways or motorways, it’ll certainly hold its own, but you’d be a tad foolish to hammer down the right-hand lane, overtaking like glory-days Michael Schumacher.

An installed wall charger will allow you to keep it topped up at home, but you can also get a three-pin plug that can connect to the household mains – with the front Renault logo flipping open to take the connector.

There’s plenty of tech, too – from touchscreens to TFT displays and sat nav to air con, Bluetooth and downloadable apps.

The car we tested is currently £7,995 plus battery hire (which starts from, £43 per month – which is less than the cost of a tank of petrol).

The Renault Zoe feels fresh and futuristic, but shouldn’t be too alien for most drivers.

Much like politics, don’t let yourself be put off by the boring bits you don’t understand or worry might be too complicated.

My love/hate relationship with electrics continues – but this time the Zoe has put me back on a positive.

Source: Cornish Guardian

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