Renault Zoe Dynamique Intens
What is it
The Renault Zoe is the fourth model to join Renault ZE (zero emissions) range of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) after the Fluence saloon, the Kangoo van and the remarkable Twizy quadricycle.
It’s based on the same platform as the new Clio but with certain modifications such as the use of some suspension parts from the larger Megane.
The battery pack lives under the floor of the passenger compartment and most of the other drivetrain components are under the bonnet so there are no compromises when it comes to interior space.
Renault has put more effort into its push into the pure EV market than any other mainstream manufacturer, rather than hedging its bets with hybrids, which don’t suffer the same range limitations.
The French manufacturer takes the view that accommodating two power sources and two motors in cars designed to sell at mainstream prices isn’t the best way to go.
So far, it has been a lonely battle for the French, but the attractive Zoe has long been heralded as the car that might finally produce the breakthrough that would make all that effort worthwhile.
- Excellent electric drivetrain providing smooth, quiet progress and very strong acceleration at town speeds
- “Chameleon” fast charger, patented by Renault, compatible with all power levels from 3kW (typical domestic installation) up to 43kW (public fast charger); a charge takes between 30 minutes and nine hours.
- Very keen starting price (after allowing for the government’s £5000 Plug-In Car Grant) for an EV of £13,650 (£13,995) – although the Zoe’s battery pack must be leased separately for £70 per month upwards
- Free domestic charging wallbox worth up to £500
- First Renault with the company’s R-Link connectivity technology, featuring entertainment, information and EV-specific apps
- Three generous spec levels; Expression, Dynamique Zen and Dynamique Intens
- Expression features fifteen inch wheels with Michelin energy-saving tyres, R-Link, sat nav, climate control, cruise control and hill-start assist
- Dynamique Zen and Intens have sixteen-inch wheels, remote battery charging and air-con/heating activation
- Dynamique Intens gets a rear parking camera, Zen gets Teflon upholstery protection
- Roomy and stylish interior
- The usual EV limitation – limited range, homologated at 130 miles on the NEDC standard, with 90 being a more realistic figure in day to day use, although that fast-charging helps a lot if you can find the right facilities.
- The extra weight of those batteries and the suspension required to carry them make themselves felt in quite a firm, but not unpleasant ride.
Business Car Manager road test verdict
The Zoe is the best production electric car yet – far better and cheaper than the first wave of EVs that hit the market just two short years ago.
That represents an outstanding rate of progress that’s pretty much unmatched anywhere else in the motor industry but it probably still won’t be enough to make the Zoe a mainstream choice for business motorists, most of whom won’t be able to live with the Zoe’s comparatively limited range.
Renault has also made some new work for company car drivers – or their accountants – by giving them a whole new set of numbers to crunch by introducing a separate monthly charge to lease the battery, which is not part of the price of the car. In terms of running costs, it’s like a £70 a month fuel bill.
But for those business motorists who have the right mix of shorter urban journeys, the Zoe could be a winner. There’s no company car tax to pay, at least until the 2015/16 tax year when it goes up to 5 percent, and with the Government grant it costs about the same as a Clio.
Add in a superbly smooth and quiet drivetrain, a roomy, comfortable, stylish cabin, and great looks and suddenly an all electric company car starts to look more realistic.
The Low Down…
|Doors and body style||5-door hatchback|
…and what it costs
|P11D Value||£27,380 (includes an allowance for batteries)|
|Monthly business rental (ex VAT)||From £345 (3yrs/30,000miles)|
|Road tax (VED)||Band A|
|Company Car Tax Bands 2013/14 to 2015/16||0%, 0%, 5%|
|Benefit in kind 2013/14 to 2015/16||£0, £0, £970|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%)||£0|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%)||£0|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (20%)||£0|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (40%)||£0|
|Figures correct at time of posting|
|For latest figures||Use our company car tax calculator|