Renault ZOE electric

A few months back, one would have given a second thought to actually sit down in an electric car and do a test drive. Ugly, sluggish, quite uncomfortable, and limited range were just some of the complaints. How things have changed! Electro mobility has become electro magic. Recently we had the introduction of the Renault ZOE Z.E., similar to its older brothers the ZOE has adopted the frontal branding of all current Renault models. The Renault ZOE Z.E. is the first electric car to be totally conceived and planned to be completely electric, the result was simply electrifying.

                                                                              

A quick walk around the ZOE will instantly describe the future, a body shape which never stops to flow, retaining Renault’s philosophy of smoothness and a clean flowing concept. Difficult to determine which is the beginning and the end, this is what signifies the ZOE, a design that never ages. A striking front with slim line daylight running lights are integrated in the front overhang which stretches out the front mudguards, protruding in a sporty and aggressive shape. The integrated rear door handles give a further aerodynamically clean side. Time to take the ZOE out on the road. Sitting inside the car, even though its size is small, gives a sense of openness. The integrated headrests do not obstruct the view. Inside all is extremely simple and plain, yet effectively located. The wide digital dashboard display gives out all the necessary information with an option of actually changing the display layout.

                       

Mirrors adjusted, a quick look around, set the car in motion and away for our joy drive. Electric cars are just so fun to drive, complete silence, driving around in totally tranquillity inside while outside is just a different story. The ZOE feels well, one of the issues which I feel is important is the coming together of both driver and machine. Here the contact point is the steering wheel which has the right feel in both material and driver’s feel. This is more of a personal experience; I like that bit of weight on the steering wheel which gives me more of a driving experience. The ZOE is silent, being electric, but does include a  kind of whining noise that helps to illustrate that the car in motion. The car is a treat to drive, visibility is good all around, is super nippy, the power to weight distribution is good and at times one does forget that this car is electric. 

Going round corners the car is stable, suspension is a bit firm but proper gauging of tyre pressure is of ultimate importance on electric cars. Rear passengers get a fair share of space at the back with a rather spacious luggage boot. The battery configuration is floor mounted reducing space allocation and creating a better centre of gravity for the car which results in excellent handling especially going round corners. Car roll is negligible and the performance is there, brakes are directional but not so firm. This is all due to the energy recovery system within the car which is extremely effective. 

 

Electric cars are going through a rapid evolution in technology and battery size. The car develops an equivalent of 87bhp but it feels like more considering the direct transmission and instant torque coupled up by the silent atmosphere. Claiming a top range of 200 kilometres, realistically this is more around 145 kilometres, however this depends on the driving methods and the ambiance one is driving in. For sure during the wintry months it is quite normal that the range will decrease. Like any other electric car the ZOE has a normal domestic charging connector which can be used for overnight charges or a rapid three phase which can dramatically reduce charging time due to the innovative Chameleon charger (patented by Renault ) which can have an 80% power availability in around 30 minutes. The ZOE comes with touch screen, bluetooth connectivity, tyre pressure monitoring and rear parking sensors just to mention just a few plus an original perfume diffuser inside the car.

Being co2 emissions free, the ZOE comes with an eco mode to reduce or better optimize heating and cooling inside the car, during my test drive I did opt for the eco mode and the car still performed to its maximum plus an increase in drive range. For sure the ZOE is fun from outside to inside and just simply fun in a rather revolutionary atmosphere. 

© Text and Images  Pierre P. Vella  01/12/2014

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