Credit where credit’s due, Renault has really jumped onto the EV bandwagon with vigour. Perhaps it was inevitable, what with this being a car manufacturer headquartered out of the busy, bustling city of Paris. It must feel quite natural for the company to develop compact electric cars capable of darting through traffic with no tailpipe emissions. Such vehicles feel like entirely appropriate answers to Paris’s world-famous traffic and emissions problems.
Take the tiny Renault Twizy, an electric car that’s even smaller than Citroen’s new Ami, which looks custom-made for Paris’s unique automotive demands. Or the more typically-sized Zoe hatchback, which not only looks the part against a picturesque Parisian backdrop, it feels quintessentially French. The Zoe in particular is an electric car capable of wooing you with its looks and charm, as much as it can with its tailpipe-free power source and decent practicality. Pretty, isn’t it?
Naturally, Renault Zoes have sold like hotcakes in Britain, because like France and its big cities, this country has its fair share of urban automotive challenges to deal with. The Renault Zoe is small enough to work on higgledy-piggledy UK streets, handsome enough to appease our flash tastes and capable enough to deal with the weekly demands of British working life. And since the original version of the electric model was launched in 2012 – the same year as the Tesla Model S, by coincidence – the Zoe has evolved to stay sharp against a growing number of rivals. It remains excellent.
Firstly, this is a car that’s supremely easy to drive. Operating like a compact automatic hatchback with ultra-light steering and good visibility, parking is a doddle, driving efficiently through traffic is easy and, thanks to the responsiveness of its electric motor, motorway driving isn’t out of the question. Renault quotes 235 miles of range for its 65kW Zoe (higher specification ones eke out over 240 miles), so there’s enough in the battery to leapfrog from nationwide charging stations. That said, this is first and foremost a city car for urban life.
Cars like this are no doubt going to receive even more attention in the coming months, with London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone coming into force from the 25 October and electric chargers being rolled out across the country at an accelerated rate. With a fast charger of 50kW the Zoe can go from 0-80% battery in just 45 minutes, while a 7kW home charger takes seven hours to take the battery from empty to full. That ensures the Zoe can charge overnight while you sleep, and don't forget, the average commuter would easily be able to get through the whole week before needing to top it up.
Along with its eco-conscious status, the Zoe is also brilliantly cheap to run. You can expect a Zoe to cost between about 3 and 6 pence per mile to run, with the lower cost achieved if you consistently charge the car at home, rather than at typically pricier public charge points. You don’t need to get the calculator out to note that Renault’s Zoe makes for a supremely cost-efficient way of getting about. It’s a pleasingly accessible EV.
That brings us nicely to the car we’ve chosen to shine our cinch digital showroom spotlight on today, a – deep breath – Renault Zoe 65kW i Dynamique Nav Q90, which has just arrived in stock and is available for £16,950 (monthly payments are also available). With only 8,250 miles on the clock, this is still a positively fresh electric car, and doubly so thanks to the 225-point checks and refurbishment every cinch vehicle goes through at our preparation centres. It’s got loads of that, ahem, je ne sais quoi. We dare you not to be tempted.