Loving Motoring: Renault ZOE provides electrifying thrills

by Gazette Reporter

By Declan Glynn

With increased power and range, a host of technological improvements and distinctive new looks, the new Renault ZOE is more desirable than ever.

This is especially with prices starting at just €26,990 (after VRT reliefs and SEAI grant), making it Ireland’s most affordable electric car. Seven years after the release of the original ZOE, the new ZOE has evolved in versatility, quality and technology to offer superior features, while remaining affordable.

The new ZOE is available in three generously-equipped trim levels – Play, Iconic, and range-topping GT Line, with annual road tax costing just €120.

Stunning Exterior:

From the boldness of its youth, to the dynamism of its adulthood, the new Renault ZOE has reached a milestone in terms of design. At the front of the new ZOE the redesigned contours of the sculpted bonnet converge into a large aligned diamond.

The new shape of the bumper incorporates chrome inserts in the grille and around the fog lights, enhancing the lower section. All ZOE models now get full LED headlamps as standard, which feature chrome inserts and are framed by the trademark C-shaped daytime running lights.

Not only do the new lamps give the ZOE a bolder look, they significantly improve vision, with 75 per cent more light than equivalent halogen units. There’s also a new, wider front bumper design that benefits from side vents designed to improve the flow of air around the front of the car and over the wheels.

At the rear of the ZOE are bolder and bigger new LED lamps that help to create a wider look and now include dynamic indicators that sweep from the centre outwards. Other external changes include a completely revamped range of wheel designs, while all ZOE models get four-wheel disc braking.

High Quality Interior:

Groupe Renault’s designers have paid particular attention to the interior quality, finish, comfort and ergonomics.

Soft touch plastics and new sustainable trim finishes help boost premium appeal and comfort, while new TFT screens and an upgraded infotainment system reinforce the ZOE’s status as a high technology leader.

Range and charging:

Under the skin the new ZOE gets a large-capacity 52 kWh Z.E. 50 battery that delivers a range of up to 395 km (WLTP) – the best driving range in its segment and an increase of 32 per cent over the previous 41 kWh pack.

Despite the increase in range and capacity, the battery has not increased in size physically, meaning no loss of interior space. The ZOE now also offers fast direct current (DC) charging, in addition to the alternating current charging (AC) options already available at home or on the street.

Charging the battery is also made more straightforward by the Renault EASY CONNECT smart services, which allow quick and easy location of charging points.

Located behind the Renault diamond logo charging hatch, the new Combo (CCS) plug is slightly larger than the previous plug and consists of both a European standard socket and a two-pin connector for DC charging. The central location of the socket makes charging even easier, especially on public charging stations which have their own cable.

Thanks to this Combo plug, the new ZOE is able to charge quickly with a direct current (DC) up to 50 kW, simply by inserting the charging cable attached to the terminal into the two-pin connector that’s sited below the type-2 socket.

Replenishing the battery in this way can add around 145 km of range in as little as half an hour. The standard type-2 cable provided with the car and the Chameleon Charger™ are used for everyday AC charging use, such as at home with a wallbox, at work, in a car park or on public roads using anything up to a 22kW supply whereas competitors only offer 7-11kW charging.

Plugging the ZOE into the public 22kW roadside charger, which are so common around Ireland, can deliver a useful 125 km of range in only one hour.

Review Car:

My review car was a Renault ZOE GT Line R135 Z.E. 50 (Zero Emission, 52kWh battery) which looked striking in Blue Celadon metallic paint.

Generous equipment can be found across the new ZOE range, with my review car equipped with 16” diamond-cut alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, part recycled – part syntethic leather set upholstery, front & rear parking sensors, rear view camera, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beam, over speed protection, traffic sign recognition, EASY LINK radio and navigation with a 9.3” touchscreen, climate control, wireless Smartphone charger and a split-folding rear bench for added practicality.

All models in the new Renault ZOE range are fitted with an automatic gearbox as standard. This single speed transmission provides linear and fluid acceleration, which maximises driving pleasure, while regenerative braking can be selected by the driver when required.

Producing 135bhp and a healthy 245Nm of torque, the new ZOE’s power delivery is terrific from take-off. The ZOE turns into corners with great poise, helped by its light and precise steering, and there is plenty of grip on offer too.

The seats in the new ZOE are comfortable and contemporary, while the uncluttered dashboard is functional and intuitive in equal measure.

Verdict:

Overall, the new Renault ZOE is enjoyable to drive, quiet, classy, stylish, and a desirable looking small car.

With extremely low running costs guaranteed, the ZOE could be the ideal car to introduce motorists to the world of pure electric driving.

Currently, the new ZOE comes with a €1,000 Green Grant and 3 months deferred payments at 2.11% APR (t’s & c’s apply).

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