Our Renault Zoe long-termer is highly efficient, obviously

Published: Yesterday 12:00

► CAR lives with the latest Zoe
► Renault's EV has changed...
► Has our perception of it changed, too?

So this pretty little car is pretty damned good at meeting our daily driving needs. A real-world driving range of 215 miles means longer trips can be undertaken with none of the range anxiety Honda E and Mazda MX-30 drivers will endure. It took me less than a week before I stopped constantly checking the range and started feeling confident about 200-mile trips.

Performance up to 50mph is enjoyably swift. With an instantaneous 181lb ft of torque (same as a VW Corrado VR6!), the Renault snaps smartly off the line, and even at higher motorway speeds it feels alert and responsive. There's more than enough room on board for day-to-day trips, CarPlay hook-up is seamless, and the audio system is loud enough to embarrass my children on the school run.

But the driving position really grinds my teeth. I understand that skateboarding the uprated 52kWh battery between the front and rear axles optimises packaging efficiency, but it also means the seat – which is not adjustable for height – positions taller drivers far too high for comfort, reducing visibility levels and forcing them to peer down at the bonnet rather than out at the road ahead. Not ideal when you're 6ft 2in.

By Ben Whitworth

Logbook: Renault Zoe GT Line R135

Price £28,620 (£30,120 as tested)
Performance 52kWh battery, e-motor, 134bhp, 9.5sec 0-62mph, 87mph
Efficiency 4.6 miles per kWh (official) 4.2 miles per kWh (tested), 0g/km CO2
Energy cost 3.1p per mile
Miles this month 2762
Total miles 3324


Month 1 living with a Renault Zoe: hello and welcome

Renault Zoe LTT cornering

'Oh, what a pretty little car you've got there!' Not quite the anticipated response from my brother, sternest of car critics, the first time he spied our Zoe. He's not wrong. Renault's third-generation pure-electric supermini is a very dinky bit of design, helped by its perky proportions, neat detailing and zingy Celadon Blue paintwork.

While the Zoe's silhouette may be familiar, it's beneath the skin where the real transformation has taken place. When it was unveiled in 2013, the Zoe had a motor-dependent real-world range of between 70 and 110 miles. This latest Zoe has a reliable range of 238 miles, which means in seven years the Renault's range has more than doubled. Imagine a petrol car pulling off that trick...

Imagine, too, having the wedge required to put this Renault on your driveway. This is the – deep breath – GT Line R135 Z.E. 50, the Zoe range-topper that weighs in at £28,620 after the government's plug-in car grant.

According to Renault UK's latest finance deal, that's £332 a month for four years after a £2500 deposit. Punchy. But the flipside is that on my current electricity tariff of 14.23p per kWh it will cost me £7.40 per recharge, which equates to 3.1p per mile. That means an annual electricity bill of £373 if you cover 1000 miles a month. Colin Overland's Clio – similarly sized but running a 1.3-litre blown petrol four – averaged 13.4 p per mile. He'd have to pay £1608 to cover the same annual distance.

The Zoe comes with a vast array of safety and infotainment kit for that money, and the installation of a 7kW domestic wallbox charger. Our test car included the 50kW DC rapid charge capability (£1000) and Winter Pack (£500) for hot seats and steering wheel.

In my first month with the Zoe I've found there's a lot to love here, over and above those 3.1p-per-mile running costs. Up to 40mph it's entertainingly brisk, and the quick if lifeless steering means it can be satisfyingly hustled along. The calibration of the throttle and brake pedals is excellent, as is the well-judged level of dialled-in regenerative braking in one-pedal 'B' driving mode. The interior swallows mounds of shopping with ease, and as long as you don't look too closely at some of the plastics, the cabin has an appealing style.

Only three negatives so far, but all quite serious. The ride quality is inexplicably and horribly firm. A corollary of this rigidity is that some of the trim has already been shaken loose – I lowered the sun visor yesterday and the vanity light dropped out. And the driving position is inexplicably high. For anyone over five and half feet it will feel like sitting on one of those chairs used by lifeguards.

By Ben Whitworth

Renault Zoe GT Line R135: logbook

Price £28,620 (£30,120 as tested, after plug-in grant)
Performance 52kWh battery, e-motor, 134bhp, 9.5sec 0-62mph, 87mph
Efficiency 4.6 miles per kWh (official), 4.7 miles per kWh (tested), 0g/km CO2
Energy cost 3.1p per mile
Miles this month 562
Total miles 562

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

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