I ordered a new Zoe Iconic R110 50Kw last December. We were extremely lucky to be able to test drive the only new-model car in the country at that time, so we had hands on experience pre ordering. I decided not to wait for the VW ID3 because a) much higher price and b) risk of going with a brand-new model and technology. We were impressed that the Zoe at that stage, was the best-selling EV in Europe. With Covid19, factory closure and all that we eventually picked up the Zoe in early July.
I won’t repeat the generally good comments of all the motoring journalists who have tested the car. It is an exceptionally good car for its size. Fast, very stable and good handling, comfortable, great tech, excellent range. Cheaper than all the competition! We have now done some 4000 Kms and are very familiar with the car and EVs in general. I’ll address the points that journalists doing short tests don’t generally cover or often get wrong!
- Normal Range: Most important – the effective range seems to average 350 – 360 in good weather. On longer runs we use Eco mode and you need to get used to it and drive smoothly. Be prepared to kick Eco on and off as necessary. I use the Kw/100 Kms meter a lot – and manage to get the average down below 15 or lower. This allows you to manage the real range and understand how and when to adjust driving style. This might sound a bit geeky, but I can report my wife handles this brilliantly and she’s no geek!
- Winter Range: When the temperature is 5 degrees or lower the real range drops drastically. Plan on at least 30% drop.
- Reliability: A personal friend gave me a strong recommendation on Renault. He switched to them a couple of years ago and couldn’t be more positive. When we had the car for just a few weeks a driver coming out of a side turning drove straight into the near side of the car. Massive bang! Fortunately, no one was hurt, and the vehicle was driveable. The Renault dealer and engineer were fantastic in response and attention to detail. They took just 3 days to fix the car as good as new. More generally the car doesn’t leak in the rain and is very solid.
- Usage: The car is a super mini – it has excellent front seat space. The rear seats would be for occasional use or children only. However, the boot is excellent – it is deep and easily accessed. I often keep the back seats down and that space is very usable for larger loads.
- Gear shift: Several journalists have criticised the gear shift. Specifically, they dislike the D (drive) B (Recovery) toggle feature. I can understand if someone is just driving the car for a few hours they might not even realise it’s a toggle operation. In real usage it’s easy to use and highly effective.
- Technology: I was worried about the VW ID3 because there were reports that software engineering was a big problem. That’s no surprise – the EV tech is considerably more complex than your fossil fuelled vehicle (FFV) including battery and range management, program setting etc. I will admit it took a few days to get it all on board, but the Zoe tech works, mostly. I don’t use programmed charging as I don’t need it at present, but the app and car integrate very well indeed. At one stage the app gave up and froze. I simply deleted the app and reinstalled. No problem.
- Carbon footprint: I had been concerned about the full life cycle carbon load because of the high (carbon) cost of battery materials and production compared to FFVs. However I understand Renault is actively managing the battery recycling process, not just for rental batteries.
- Running cost: I charge from a home charger which is the most economic. Basically the normal household rate of 1.7c per Kw. I have monitored the metered charging process and it’s unsurprisingly totally predictable cost. I haven’t triggered off peak charging as I now have a smart meter installed and the ESB have announced there will be new plans early in 2021 that take advantage of the smart meter capabilities. I have signed up with ESB Connect and it works just fine. I am also registered with EasyGo that is a very useful directory (at least in Ireland) of charging points and critically their status and availability. I don’t yet have servicing costs, but the Renault engineer indicated 12 month check costs are very low (think around €100) because of low number of moving parts.
- General comments: Range anxiety does go away very quickly when you have the data. It’s similar to managing gas (diesel/petrol) but different. So, you need different numbers in your head – Kw/100 litre, and forecast range. Having a home charger is really important if you have the space and parking proximity. I normally charge when I get to 110Kms remaining range and charge to 80%, unless we have a longer journey the following day, in which case I will charge to 100%. But this is very much the exception. Covid19 notwithstanding we are doing early thinking about holidays, meeting up with the family on the continent, and will happily take the ferry (to keep the carbon load down) and drive across Europe. With good planning, the Zoe will handle that happily.
Overall rating: 4.5. Recommended.