Road test review: Renault Zoe


  • RENAULT ZOE INTENS
  • Base price: $ 65,990
  • Powertrain and economy: Synchronous motor with 52 kWh lithium-ion battery, 100 kW / 245 Nm, front-wheel drive, combined economy 17.9 kWh / 100 km, range 385 km.
  • Vital statistics: 4087mm long, 1787mm wide, 1562mm high, 4087mm wheelbase, 388 liter cargo capacity, 16 inch alloy rims.
  • We like: Much more pleasant to drive, more impactful when exiting the line and when accelerating, can now use fast DC chargers, better autonomy.
  • We do not like : Terrible security rating, still too expensive.

This is a rare occasion where a brand new car you are testing right now is heralded as only the third car to score zero stars in the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP), but the Renault Zoe has literally gone. parked in my driveway as I write this went from a 5 star hero to a pretty literal zero in the last round of testing. Which is a shame, because it’s a huge improvement over the last one.

Wait. How does a car go from 5 stars to zero stars?

Renault has improved its little Zoe EV in almost every way.  Apart from a few very important cases ...

Damien O’Carroll / Stuff

Renault has improved its little Zoe EV in almost every way. Apart from a few very important cases …

When first launched in 2013, the Zoe received a 5-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests, and although Renault calls the current Zoe a ‘new’ model, it is actually of a complete refresh of that original car, instead of being a truly brand new model.

READ MORE:
* Renault updated its small EV
* Sunday drive: Renault Zoé
* What does ANCAP do and why do we need it?
* Safer Ford Mustang update, but still only three stars

This meant that when it was crash-tested again this year, it was faced with a new set of much stricter criteria that now put much more emphasis on active safety aids than, in its most basic shape in Europe, little Zoe just doesn’t.

The Zoe finally gets a 50kW DC load, but also doesn't get any stars in crash tests.

Damien O’Carroll / Stuff

The Zoe finally gets a 50kW DC load, but also doesn’t get any stars in crash tests.

NCAP tests are classified into four categories: adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, protection of vulnerable road users (pedestrians, in other words), and safety aids. If a car scores less than 15% in one of these categories, it automatically loses all stars, regardless of its performance in the others. La Zoe scored a dismal 14% in assists.

What’s actually worse than that, however, is that it only scored 43, 52, and 41 percent respectively in the other categories – for comparison, the similar-sized Fiat 500e EV that was tested at the same time obtained 76, 80, 67. and 67% respectively for an overall rating of 4 stars.

But it wasn’t just a move of the goalposts that tripped the Zoe, Renault also inexplicably changed the seat-mounted side airbag from a cushion that protected the occupants’ head and thorax to one that protects the thorax, further sabotaging the score.

Should a zero star car even be sold here?

The refreshed interior is nicely appointed and attractive, but falls short of the quality expected in a $ 65,000 car.

Damien O’Carroll / Stuff

The refreshed interior is nicely appointed and attractive, but falls short of the quality expected in a $ 65,000 car.

Well here’s the kicker that gets ignored in all the headlines shouting out that the Zoe is a zero star car – like I mentioned earlier, the Zoe scored poorly in the safety aids category because its version base didn’t have a lot of now -aids expected, but the Zoe we get here is not the basic version.

Zoe’s entry into Europe lacks lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking, all of which score big in NCAP tests, while the two models we get here (and the one we’re testing) lane keeping assist and lane departure warning as standard, but still lacks AEB.

But while it probably wouldn’t be a zero-star car, its low scores overall would still rank it quite poorly – the Dacia Spring tested at the same time scored 49, 56, 39 and 32 percent respectively in NCAP categories. and has a car-to-car AEB, but no track assist, has so far only been rated a dismal star. So even when Renault adds AEB to the Zoe (as it said it will next year), you couldn’t realistically expect more than a star or two.

Well, that’s not good then. How is the real car?

Renault has significantly improved the performance and refinement of the Zoe, but the noise of the road is still noticeable.

Damien O’Carroll / Stuff

Renault has significantly improved the performance and refinement of the Zoe, but the noise of the road is still noticeable.

This is probably the most disappointing part of it all, as the refreshed Zoe is actually a path better car to drive than the last one.

While the last Zoe I drove was disappointing in many ways – it was slow, unrefined, loud, lacked fast charging capabilities, and was MUCH overpriced – the updated version fixes just about all of these flaws.

In town, the Zoe is nicely nimble, with crisp, crisp steering, with a feel that’s a huge improvement over the oddly springy steering feel of the old model, and a delightfully responsive nature that’s actually more of a Suzuki Swift. Praise there.

The chunky gear selector is a pleasure to use, but the lack of a “park” position and the inability to adjust the seat height are two rather confusing aspects of the Zoe's interior.

Damien O’Carroll / Stuff

The chunky gear selector is a pleasure to use, but the lack of a “park” position and the inability to adjust the seat height are two rather confusing aspects of the Zoe’s interior.

At open road speeds, the last iteration of the Zoe was painfully slow to go from 80km / h to 100km / h, but that didn’t really matter, because by the time it got to 95, a superbly irritating buzz. had come into the picture, which meant it was just easier and less boring to stop at 90 km / h and leave it there.

However, the “new” Zoe fixed all of that, with decent 80-100 acceleration and no noise, other than road noise and wind that was still a little too intrusive.

Handling is crisp and predictable, with a nice, secure tendency to understeer when pushing a little too hard in a turn, while the Zoe’s handling is also well-tuned, with a distinctly ‘big car’ feel to it. its ability to absorb bumps and irregularities.

So they really fixed everything?

The Zoe now has a responsive touchscreen and thoughtfully laid out controls.

Damien O’Carroll / Stuff

The Zoe now has a responsive touchscreen and thoughtfully laid out controls.

Well, it’s all functional, at least – while the refreshed Zoe fixes most of the faults of previous cars (it now has at least 50kW fast charging as standard), it didn’t perform so well on that ” far too expensive ” ; the Zoe Intens that I drove here costs $ 65,990. I’ll let it flow.

Even if you take out the Clean Car rebate of $ 8,625 for a total of $ 57,365, that’s still almost as much as a Tesla Model 3 or Polestar 2 and above as the Peugeot e-208, the three cars I would consider the benchmark of electric vehicles under $ 60,000 after remittance in New Zealand at present.

Of course, you technically need a minimum three-star collision rating to be eligible for the discount anyway, but because the Zoe isn’t sold in Australia, it’s technically “unrated” by ANCAP, therefore RightCar uses the controversial “real world” rating. from Monash University’s Vehicle Safety Risk Assessment (VSRR), which is estimated from data on actual crashes reported to police in Australia and New Zealand, where the Zoe was awarded four stars.

But to make matters worse, the Zoe is only slightly better equipped than the MG ZS EV which costs a fraction of over $ 40,000 after the rebate is applied. And although it has greater autonomy, the interior of the Zoe is not of a much higher quality than that of the MG …

The Zoe remains a nice little EV that's been vastly upgraded, but it's also still way overpriced, and the dismal safety rating is just unforgivable.

Damien O’Carroll / Stuff

The Zoe remains a nice little EV that’s been vastly upgraded, but it’s also still way overpriced, and the dismal safety rating is just unforgivable.

Are there other cars I should consider?

Let’s face it; literally anything else.

If it was only the ridiculous price, I could maybe just understand forget that if you really, REALLY I wanted a Zoe, but combined with the really dismal safety rating, that makes the Zoe a car that I could never in good conscience recommend to anyone to buy.

You have to take into account that the Zoe in its local specification is not actually a zero star car, and it is still a basically ‘safe’ vehicle given that it was once rated 5 stars under ‘an older system, and carries the 4-star VSRR safety rating.

But even taking this into account, poor safety performance across the board is just not enough for a brand new $ 65,000 car these days. Not by far.


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