► Wild EV concept driven
► Mix of regular Zoe and Formula E hardware
► 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds
Are you in there, Zoe? Trust us, there’s a little bit of Renault’s charming EV in here. But not much. This is the Renault Zoe e-sport, primarily built to boost interest in the company's Formula E programme and to possibly get you excited about the idea of an electric hot hatch.
Watch author Matt Joy put the Zoe e-sport through its paces on track in our video review below:
So I’ll be able to buy something like this one day?
If you dumped a sackful of cash at Renault’s door they might just build you one, but as far as showroom fodder goes this is light years away.
The e-sport has token elements of normal Zoe in its fundamentals but there’s a track-spec intertwined chassis and rollcage, kevlar panels between them and carbonfibre exterior cladding.
The regular interior is comprehensively dumped too, with a slick race-spec digital dash, FIA bucket seats and massive click wheels to control the drive functions.
Read our guide to the best electric cars and EVs on sale in the UK
Is it a concept car or a racing car?
Pretty much 50/50 down the middle. The hardware is all racer; motors pinched from the Formula E car (two of them), racing brakes, double wishbones all round and Öhlins dampers and a total absence of mod cons; you open the door from the inside by pulling a lever attached to a cable and there isn’t even a three-speed fan, never mind air con. It’s no Vel Satis for sure.
But does it work?
Oh my heavens yes. Once you’ve David Blaine’d your way into the driver’s seat there’s the textbook concept car rigmarole of getting it started, requiring lots of button pushing, patience and the IT Crowd approach to problem solving. But you can forgive its histrionics on account of the fact it is a one-off and that it is quite clearly wired for fun.
With all three bars of the fire switched on, the e-sport dispenses 456bhp across both axles with maximum torque of 472lb ft available from standstill, so acceleration isn’t an issue. The figures suggest a violent punch from the start, but the e-sport is better once it’s rolling, leaping forward with delicious precision as you apply the throttle. The soundtrack is hearse-like at low speed and Concorde at V2 when you’re really pedalling. It’s hilariously brilliant, especially in something that was once a regular Zoe.
It looks more like a rally car than a racer – does it handle?
Funny you should say that. Renault rally hero Jean Ragnotti, who made his Clio 16v Maxi go like it was a Mk2 Escort, was tasked with driving the e-sport up the hill at the Festival of Speed. Less than five minutes behind the wheel tells you this is his kind of car; short wheelbase, super-quick steering and rear bias to the power and weight.
Drive Button-smooth and it’s all neat and tidy, but turn in with even a sniff of brakes and a dab of aggression and the rear starts to make a break for it. It’s easy enough to gather up and you can extend the drift with a boot of throttle, but you probably wouldn’t want to dance like this with it on the public road.
What else do I need to know?
You can’t buy one. That’s the bad news. With a bit of luck, though, you’ll be able to specify something similar to the gorgeous 20-inch alloy wheels on your next Renault Sport Megane.
The Zoe e-sport is a complete giggle throughout, from its outlandish exterior and war-ready specification to its chuckable handling. But it’s only ever going to be a concept – there’s as much chance of a production version appearing as there are emissions from its tailpipe.
However, it’s an ideal image builder for the prospect of a slightly hotter regular Zoe in the future; imagine the standard car riding on 18-inch wheels, with a 100kg knocked off and some Renault Sport magic worked on the chassis and powertrain. Now that really could be the future.