The Renault Zoe has been on sale in France since way back in December 2012, and by the end of 2016 Renault had sold more than 60,000 worldwide. It’s still one of the most popular EV’s sold in Europe.
However like with so many things, Australia is woefully late to the party with the Zoe arriving in late 2017, and to business buyers only (not that it is hard to get an ABN!). There are rumblings that consumer purchases will be possible this year.
Drive Zero Car Guides are written for people trying to get a feel of the electric car landscape in Australia. We only wrote guides for battery (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) electric vehicles that are confirmed to be on sale in the market in Australia now, or are coming soon.
Our goal is to summarise as much as you might want to know about the different considerations for each of these electric cars and who they may be useful for. That said, we’re not qualified car reviewers, so full reviews of these models, we’ve included the best links and video for reviews that we could find.
Designed especially for urban and city driving the Renault Zoe is great as a daily driver and can even fit a decent amount of cargo thanks to their hatchback design.
What’s so good about the Renault Zoe?
While there have been a number of small, rather odd electric cars released many years ago the Zoe is quite unique as it is small, but still very practical. Slotting into the very popular small hatch segment it looks fantastic while being a highly all round practical car.
It’s not the fastest car out of the block with a 0-100 km/h acceleration of 13.2 seconds, but it’s far lighter and smaller than some of the other more bulkier EV’s out there such as the Tesla Model S/X or even Nissan Leaf.
This makes it easier to drive around the city, easier to park and also makes it more efficient as you’re not lugging around such a heavy vehicle.
It’s also a five door hatchback that has a very modern and “normal” exterior and interior design. In a world where so many EV’s are constantly made to look borderline ridiculous – for some unknown reason – it’s no wonder that this traditional and very nice design has been selling like hot cakes overseas.
How much does the Renault Zoe cost and what models are on sale in Australia?
So your standard everyday person cannot actually go and buy a Renault Zoe here in Australia. For some reason only known to Renault, they only allow government and fleet managers to purchase the car for now.
You can go to Renault’s Australian website here and contact them if you want to look into buying one as part of a fleet or government program.. You may have some luck if you have an ABN but this hasn’t been confirmed.
Some speculate that it’s due to the high price of the Zoe, it could also be that they simply can’t make enough to meet the predicted demand. Whatever the reason their strange selling rules don’t seem to be limited to just Australia as even in France where the cars are made they have a strange battery rental program.
If you do somehow convince Renault to sell you one though they’re quoting an on road cost (in NSW) of $49,490 for the Zoe Life model and $50,990 for the Zoe Intense (Life+) model. You can also add different paint options for an additional $550.
Renault Zoe key details
|Renault Zoe Life||Renault Zoe Intens (Life+)|
|Table last updated April 2018|
|Features||- 15” Arobase wheels|
- Stop / Start button
- 7” multimedia navigation system
- 3D Arkamys Sound
- DAB, MP3, radio and Bluetooth
- Steering wheel mounted controls
- Full central locking when in motion
- Cruise control / speed limiter
- Body-coloured front door handles
- Halogen headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- Front driver and passenger airbags
- Black heated electric door mirrors
- Tyre inflation kit
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
- Pedestrian warning sound
|All the features of Zoe Life plus:
- 16” Black Shadow alloy wheels
- Rear parking distance control
- Reverse parking camera
- Automatic headlights and windscreen wiper
- Electric windows at front and rear
- Hands-free Renault smart key card
- Heated, folding electric door mirrors
- Leather steering
- Chrome strip on front grille
- Gloss black door mirrors
- Black ambience
- Black/Grey cloth upholstery
|Release Date & Availability||Currently the Zoe Life is only available in Australia for fleet or government buyers. Renault says that it is continuing to evaluate whether or not it will sell the Zoe to normal, everyday customers but hasn't announced any firm plans or release dates as of yet.|
|Price||Drive Away (NSW): $49,490-$50,040||Drive Away (NSW): $50,990-$51,540|
|An NEDC range of 403 km, and estimated real world range of 300 km in summer and 200 km in winter|
|0-100 km/h||R90 Motor (2017)
0–50 kph: 4.1 Seconds
0–80 kph: 8.6 Seconds
0–100 kph: 13.2 Seconds
R110 Motor (2018)
0–100 kph: 11.4 Seconds
|Battery||"Z.E. 40" 44kW Lithium Ion Battery (41 kWh usable)
|Drivetrain||R90 Motor (2017): 68 kW / 92 hp Front Wheel Synchronous Electric Motor
R110 Motor (2018): 80 kW / 108 hp Front Wheel Synchronous Electric Motor
|Seats||Five-door hatchback, seats 5 passengers|
|Charging||The Chameleon Charger|
|Vehicle & Battery Warranty||From the date of delivery, all Renault Z.E. vehicles are covered by a three-year warranty. In addition, the timing chain and traction battery on electric vehicles are guaranteed for 5 years or 100,000 km whichever occurs first, with a charge capacity always higher than 66% of the original capacity.|
Looking over all the options for the Zoe it really boils down to 2 simple choices:
- Do you want the base Zoe Life model or the Zoe Intens (Life+) for $1,500 more?
- Do you want the default Glacier White paint or one of the 5 other colours for $550 more?
These seem to be the only two optional extras or choices that you have with the car and even then, it’d be quite strange for someone to not upgrade to the Zoe Intens given all the extras you’re getting for just that small $1,500 price bump.
Bigger, better wheels, rear parking distance control, reverse camera, automatic headlights and wipers, hands-free entry, heated folding mirrors, an upgraded interior and more.
On the paint options front, besides the Glacier White base paint, they also have Arctic White, Titanium Grey, Lightning Blue, Diamond Black and Venetian Red which should be a decently easy choice for most people.
With many wanting a generally simple and not over the top car that just gets them from A to B, the Zoe fits in very well. Many smaller EV’s tend to suffer from limited range but with the Zoe’s real world range of around 300 km’s it should be ample for even the busiest drivers.
Renault Zoe Pricing
The Zoe Life is listed as $49,490 drive away on Renaults website if you live in NSW. If you want the Zoe Intens that will add another $1,500 ending up with $50,990. You can also add one of the 5 paint options to either models as stated above for just $550.
While the Zoe obviously isn’t in the same class (or size) as something like the Tesla Model 3 it’s predicted that the Model 3 will debut in Australia at around $55,000 drive away. Given how close that is to the Zoe’s price it might end up being a bit of a hard sell.
How does the Renault Zoe stack up?
Although it’s a bit hard to buy the Zoe here in Australia the car has been selling in the tens of thousands in Europe for over 6 years now. As such reviews and real world experiences aren’t too hard to come by.
There have been a few different models over the years so do be aware. Initially the Zoe came out with a 22 kWh battery and so had a much shorter range than what it does now. The current model being sold in Australia has a 44 kWh battery and a ~300 km real world range.
To start with have a look at this great review from Fully Charged. It’s a review on the latest 44 kWh battery model.
Up next we have another review from Vehicle Show TV.
For a more Australian opinion on the Zoe we have a quick review from motoring.com.au.
And then another from drive.com.au.
Renault Zoe – Battery, Charging and Power
As a pure electric vehicle it’s important that potential owners understand the options for charging the Renault Zoe.
While the older models only had the 22 kWh battery, the new Zoe has a very impressive 44 kWh battery tucked in underneath it. Made up of 12 modules and 192 cells, the entire battery can be recharged in as little as 2 hours, 40 minutes depending on what charging system you use.
Assuming you’re charging from 0-100%, Renault lists the charging times for a variety of charging powers:
- 3.7 kW (16 A single-phase charging point): 15 hours
- 7.4 kW (32 A single-phase charging point): 7 hours 25 minutes
- 11 kW (16 A three-phase charging point): 4 hours 30 minutes
- 22 kW (32 A three-phase charging point): 2 hours 40 minutes
For most people, they will be charging at home either via a plain old power point which is usually 240 V @ 10 A (or 2.4 kW) or they can install a 7.4 kW wall box from Renault. Either of these are perfect to just top up the battery each night when you get home just as you would your mobile phone.
To access the charging port you simply push the button on your car remote and it pops open the plug which is hidden under the front Renault logo plate.
While Renault strangely only ever refer to the Zoe’s charging port as “The Chameleon Charger” it looks like they use a standard Type 2 / Mennekes plug. If you’d like to know more about charging and plug types take a look at our beginners guide to charging guide here.
Europe is quickly moving towards the CCS or Combined Charging System so it will be interesting to see if they will continue to stick to the Type 2 plug or add in the two large DC pins underneath for even faster charging.
What’s the interior of a Renault Zoe look like?
While the exterior of the Zoe looks very cute, modern and stylish the inside seems to be a bit lower in quality. Reviewers are stating it to not be particularly bad, but a little on the cheap side and also somewhat dated given the car has already been out for about 6+ years now overseas.
That being said you have two different interiors depending on which model you get. The base model interior can be seen below which is mostly white plastic as the dash. This also comes with some pretty boring 15″ Arobase wheels and dark fabric upholstered seats.
While not a bad look, there might be a tad too much plastic everywhere however it is likely to try and keep both the cost and weight of the very small/light car down as much as possible.
If you prefer an all black interior you’ll have to shell out the extra $1,500 to upgrade to the Zoe Intens version seen below. For this though you get a number of other great extras as listed above in the key details section. You can see some of them below such as the 16″ wheels and more premium interior materials.
With room for 5 passengers, a hatchback design to allow for fitting large items in the boot and a great 338 L capacity the Zoe is plenty appealing. While the interior isn’t super luxurious, it’s not supposed to be as it’s not meant to compete with the likes of the BMW i3 or Tesla Model 3.
In the centre area you have their R-LINK touchscreen multimedia system. This includes GPS navigation, MP3, Bluetooth, Radio and more all built in. The Zoe also features a screen dash up front giving you heaps of useful information about range, driving style, speed and battery stats while you drive without having to look to the side.
What other great features does it have?
While the Zoe might not have some of the more high tech gadgets the Jaguar I-PACE or other luxury cars have it still has a few very handy things up its sleeve. To start with there’s a companion phone app called ZE Interactive which allows you to remotely monitor and control the car.
You can set times for when the car will start or stop charging. This way you can ensure it only charges in off-peak times when power prices are low. It can also help you to plan trips and even precondition the car.
This is where it will use the electricity from the charger to pre-heat or pre-cool the car’s interior to your desired temperature. That way you don’t come out to a freezing cold car in the middle of winter in the morning.
The Zoe also comes with handy storage compartments and even has two different driving modes. Normal and “Eco” which limits the performance and AC / heating output so that you can get an even longer range.
Renault have also designed some special lights for the Zoe as you can see below.
Along with all these other features the Zoe also inherits all the advantages of being an all electric car. It has regenerative breaking which not only allows you to drive more often using only one pedal, but decreases the wear on your brake pads and helps charge your battery for increased range.
It also accelerates very smoothly as it has no gear changes, has 100% of the torque available at all times and is also essentially silent all the time. There’s less vibration and this overall just makes for a more enjoyable, more relaxing ride.
Summing Up – a supermini that makes zero emission city life a breeze
Summing up – the Renault Zoe
While the Zoe is already a great little city car Renault also seem to be continuously trying to make it better.
They’ve upgraded the battery recently and have now announced that they’re also upgrading the current R90 electric motor (which has 68 kW’s of power) to the new R110 which has 80 kW’s.
Although this newer 2018 model isn’t out yet in Australia it should be coming soon and also allows you to get a new colour shown above called Blueberry Purple which is quite striking. There’s even some matching interior trim to go with it!
It’s this continued commitment to not only producing an all electric car but also rolling it out to many markets globally – including Australia! – that makes the Zoe such a great car both now and in the future.
We just need to wait for Renault to deliver on the possibility that normal everyday people, not just fleet managers, can purchase these types of cars too.