Renault ZOE ZE50 electric car review

The first thing I love about the new Renault ZOE ZE50 is what it doesn’t have: the euphemistically labelled ‘tailpipe’. I call them pollution pipes, and that, for me, is the key feature of the ZOE, as it is, of course, with all pure battery electric vehicles.

I also love lots of other things the ZOE ZE 50 doesn’t have, as it’s designed with a lightness of touch, and a simplicity of form and function that appeals to me. I want a car to work for me, not that I have to work for, with complex user experience interfaces and a myriad of settings. It. Is. Simple. Turn it on, slide to drive, set the cruise control, then simply steer (oh, and brake).

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Continuing the theme of simplicity, ‘owning’ it is also supremely simple, as ‘my’ ZOE comes to me via the monthly car subscription company, Onto. This is frictionless admin at its very best. Fill in a quick online form, then get a car sent to your house. The service also includes insurance, maintenance and charging, all in the price. Elegant and easy.

As with all electric cars, I find the experience of driving them more calming, and this certainly applies to the ZOE. Perhaps via my sustainability prism, part of that is that I am unencumbered with the gnawing concern that I’m part of the problem, rather than part of the solution: something I felt when I drove combustion cars. Being in a vehicle that was full of highly inflammable liquid, powering a motor characterised by a series of controlled explosions, was never something I felt comfortable with.

This calmness is also brought about by the circa 20 percent uplift in range to 240 miles (386km). I’ve been driving electric cars since the days of plugging them in via extension leads through the windows of hotel kitchens, so I know what the condition formerly known as ‘range anxiety’ feels like. I can honestly say that family outings, and trips to my mother-in-laws, are now ones of range reassurance. I simply don’t even consider range, after a quick check of the available distance when starting up.

The new ZOE ZE 50 (I also had the previous model) is a step change in interior design. There is an elegance to the design. Again, it’s simple. It’s not just pretty in design, it’s useful. The user experience design is great: from the physical experience of the buttons and levers to the excellent digital user experience design on the enlarged screen.

On speed and acceleration. I know people like this feature, so a note on that: it’s quick. Take it out of Eco mode and the power to weight ration of this big little car really tells. So, for those of you that quite like quick, the Renault ZOE has you covered.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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