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First drive: Renault ZOE electric car

That includes a long driving range of 130 miles NEDC (compared to 109 mile NEDC for the old LEAF and 124 miles for the new version, launching this summer), more accurate indication of remaining battery range and a significantly more palatable price tag; £13,650 after the Plug-in Car Grant (worth £5,000) and with a battery lease of around £70 a month.

Electricity-powered perks

With all the extra perks that come with electric vehicles, including; congestion charge and VED exemption, 100% first year write-down allowance, low ‘fuel’ costs with free charging in some locations, grants for charging points, maintenance costs around 20 per cent lower than equivalent ICE car and no BiK to pay, the ZOE should be the electric car that finally gets businesses to switch to electric Renault ZOE rear on the roadpower. At around £10,000 cheaper than early electric models, this should be the final push for any firm that has been considering it anyway.

Taking the ZOE on the road, you realise it is not just the economic argument that will sell this model for Renault, but also the way it drives. While electric cars are already known for their quiet nature, in truth they have largely replaced combustion roar with electric whirring noises; not so the ZOE, it’s much quieter, with hardly any discernable noise except at the highest speeds. Its low, centrally positioned battery helps the car feel solid round the corners, and although the steering is on the light side, it feels precise and crisp. The car feels effortless and capable even at high speed, with torque of 220Nm delivered from a standstill.

Quick stats

Range: 130 miles
0-62mph: 13.5 seconds
Max speed: 84mph
Torque: 220Nm
Bhp: 88
Battery: 22kWh lithium-ion
Fast charge: 80% battery recharge in 30 mins
Charging from household socket: 6-9 hours
Warranty: 4 years or 100,000 miles for the car, 5 years or 100,000 miles for the electric drivetrain
Price: £13,650 with a £70 per month battery lease (after a Plug-in Grant worth 25% off the car’s price-£3,412.50)
Available: Spring 2013

While only a B-segment car, compared to its sibling C-segment Nissan LEAF (also developed through the Renault-Nissan Alliance), the ZOE offers excellent interior space, with its 22kWh lithium ion battery stored under the floor, there’s good headroom for occupants and impressive boot space. Based on the new Clio platform, the ZOE actually offers better luggage space, with boot capacity of 338 litres versus 300 for the Clio.


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