Living with the Renault Zoe

Living with the Renault Zoe
Living with the Renault Zoe

You need to keep a close eye on the Zoe to make sure it doesn’t ‘run dry’

At some point in their life just about every motorist will have experienced the sight of the ’low fuel’ warning light flickering into life on the dash.

In most conventionally-fuelled cars, these warnings are set to go off long before you’ll actually need to visit a station for a top-up. Even though it may look like the needle is bending against the ‘E’ stop on the gauge you’ll usually have getting on for 50 miles left before the engine expires with a weary cough. Lots of notice to find a life-extending forecourt, in other words.

Electric cars can be different. When the Renault Zoe eventually tells you it’s running low on battery charge, and therefore range, it means it.

We’ve been running around in a new Zoe for a few months now. Our aim is to determine whether the new model’s improved range and sharp pricing structure have finally established it as a genuine pure electric small car for the masses.

A big part of that determination process will boil down to the Zoe’s actual range, as opposed to its advertised one. Most of our Zoe’s runaround duties are carried out in or near to London offices, so we charged it up and set off to see how far we could go. Not until only 11 miles remained on the ‘estimated range’ readout did we get a warning from the car that it was running low. This warning came in the form of the dial suddenly turning amber and an ‘empty battery’ icon flashing up in red with an accompanying beep.

What happened next? The infotainment system asked if we’d like to be directed to the nearest charging station, and popped up a list of options. You ignore that sort of friendly advice at your peril. As luck would have it, we weren’t far from a suitably-equipped station, but it did make us wonder whether every Zoe owner (particularly those living out in the countryside) would be that lucky.

Of course, at the end of the day it’s down to the driver to be aware of the remaining charge, but we still think an earlier reminder of impending disaster would be useful, especially for owners who might not be used to an EV’s quirks.

Otherwise, it’s all good. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that anyone with an average-sounding 13-mile London commute like ours will struggle to find a more relaxing car to do it in.

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