Renault ZOE

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Renault ZOE: it is more lively and goes further

halfords car battery

halfords car battery

Renault ZOE

Improved autonomy and liveliness, shorter charging times and abundant driving aids: the French electric motor evolves, but it is certainly not a gift.

A story that began in 2012

The first edition of the Renault Zoe, an electric utility car launched in 2012, combined a 92 hp engine (code name R90) with a 22 kWh, halfords car battery, and promised 150 km of autonomy per charge: just enough for the citizen’s daily newspaper, but  still little to make us forget “recharge anxiety”, also considering that in those years the development of the network of columns proceeded much more slowly than today.

In 2016 it was the turn of the second-generation Zoe, with a lithium-ion, 65 Series car battery, (called ZE 40) with increased density and almost double capacity (41 kWh): the range was extended to 300 km declared “in conditions of  real guide “, so that rivals with internal combustion appear less distant.

Two years later the new and brighter R110 version was introduced, while last spring Renault began testing Zoe prototypes with V2G technology (vehicle to grid) in the Netherlands, ie able to transfer to the electricity grid, in the event of  need, the energy of the batteries when the car is unused.

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It rises at an altitude of 390 km

Today the Renault Zoe is renewed in several aspects and makes a further significant step forward in terms of autonomy: the house speaks of 390 km according to the WLTP cycle, at the moment the one considered the most reliable being calculated on a 57% of city distance, a 25  % extra-urban and 18% motorway (the first condition is the most favorable for electric cars, which by virtue of frequent slowdowns are able to make the most of the energy recovery system in deceleration and braking).  This result was achieved with the new Z.E.  50, which is capable of 52 kWh with a volume equal to that of its predecessor: a feature that has made it possible not to affect the habitability of the car (also good behind) nor the boot capacity (of 338 liters with the five  seats in use and 1225 liters with the backrest reclined).

It is more powerful and shoots better

The new Renault Zoe not only goes further, but it does it even more quickly because it can be fitted with a more powerful engine, called R135: with 136 HP against the 109 of the R110 (which is still available) and 245 Nm of torque, according to the house  accelerates from 0 to 100 times in 9.5 seconds and resumes from 80 to 120 km / h in just 7.1 seconds (2.2 less than the R110);  in addition, the official maximum speed (self-limited) rises from 135 to 140 km / h.

The transmission is always at a fixed ratio (the delivery characteristics of the electric motor make the gearbox superfluous), but now the short selector in the tunnel offers – in addition to the D for the normal gear, the N for the neutral and the R for the ”  back ”- also position B: useful in slowing down or downhill because it allows to increase the action of the energy recovery system and, at the same time, the engine brake.  Still from a technical point of view, the adoption of the entire range of rear disc brakes, which take the place of the previous drums, should be noted.

It requires less patience and also loads up to 50 kW

An important innovation linked to the new Renault Zoe battery relates to recharging times: paying 700 $ you can connect, in fact, to the fast columns in direct current (DC) up to 50 kW (compared to 43 kW in some versions of the old model  , which had only the socket for the alternate one) using one of the two inputs of the Combo socket concealed behind the Renault lozenge in the front;  the other input, that of Type 2, is dedicated to recharging by means of alternating current (AC) columns up to 22 kW, ie those present in the city and in shopping centers.

The regeneration times of the battery vary according to the power supplied by the device used: for example, the “full” from a 7.4 kW domestic wallbox requires 9 hours and 25 minutes (but, still at home, in 8 hours they are recovered  300 km of travel) and, connecting to a public 11 kW column, it takes two hours to accumulate 125 km of autonomy.  Full recharging with a 22 kW column requires 3 hours and 40 minutes, but with 50 kW recharges in 30 minutes enough energy is stored to travel 150 km and 80% regeneration takes place in 65 minutes (the time for  full recharge with the 50 kW column, on the other hand, is not declared).

The makeup has been redone outside

Externally, the third edition of the,Renault ZOE, is faithful to the previous ones except for a few tweaks, concentrated above all in the front: the logo of the house is enlarged, the full led headlights integrate the daytime running lights (again with diodes, previously they were in the bumper) and the grip  air in the fascia has a new shape: it is wider and has chrome inserts (the same finish is reserved for the elements that frame the fog lights) with “3D” effect.  Marginal are the novelties of the rear area, limited to the internal design of the lights.  The contours are rounded off by three new body colors (Celadon Blue, Passion Red and Quartz White), for a total of nine, and new five-bolt (15 “, 16” or 17 “wheels based on the set-up).  The changes did not involve changes in size: the car is 408 cm long like the previous versions.New look skin center hours.

Inside is now more “rich”

When compared to the bodywork, the restyling of the interior of the Renault Zoe is deeper and also involves the console and the large touch screen that stands out in the center of the dashboard: now it has a vertical development (a choice that has forced repositioning on its sides)  , instead of below, the two central air vents) and dimensions ranging from 7 “of the basic model to 9.3” of the one that equips the rich Intens;  the device serves the Easy Link multimedia system, able to support the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay protocols, to enable (via the My Renault app) a series of functions on the smartphone (including remote control of battery charge) and  to show the charging columns and their availability on the navigator’s maps.

The information on the route can also be viewed in the new digital dashboard (a 10 “display), which offers the one that analyzes the driving style and helps make it more efficient so as to reduce electricity consumption.

New to the eye and to the touch

Redesigned the dashboard and console of the Renault Zoe, more pleasing in appearance (also in the consistency of the materials) and “orderly”: thanks also to the new automatic “climate” controls, now consisting of three practical knobs (the central one bears  a display with the set temperature);  just above them, in a row, there are the keys for the secondary functions, such as the one for the emergency flashing of the four “arrows” (which, however, would have deserved more evidence) or that for the heating of the seats.

The console at the base of the console was also revised, where the Aux entry and two USB ports are located (two more are in the rear), and the area between the seats, where the parking brake lever gives way to more  current electronic control, at the wireless charging base for smartphones and a compartment with double cupholders.  Among the innovative details, also the upholstery fabrics: they are in recycled material, in line with the car’s “green” philosophy.

Accessories and driving aids in step with the times

A further confirmation of the evolution of the Renault Zoe is the availability of a rich series of accessories and driving aids.  For all, in addition to the automatic high beams, to the road sign recognition system, the alert for exceeding the speed limit, as well as abandoning and maintaining the lane.  In addition to the Intens, there are the monitoring of the blind spot of the rear-view mirrors, the automatic emergency braking (available from January 2020) and the rear-view camera, particularly useful in reverse (also because the rear window is not large).  For the One Edition, in a limited edition of only 50, the Easy Park Assist semi-automatic parking system is standard, and adds leather steering wheel and saddlery, heated front seats and a 50 kW DC fast charge system  (which for the other set-ups is an option and costs 700 $).

Easy, fun and communicative

With the R135 edition, we discovered a truly enjoyable Renault Zoe.  The cue is lively and the substantial progression leads to short spaces (we checked in less than 1000 meters) up to the maximum speed, self-limited to 140 times (145 km / h indicated by the speedometer).  Of course, the test route between hill and mountain, with continuous acceleration, deceleration and braking downhill, was ideal to get the best from the energy recovery system, but it still seems satisfactory to us at the end of the path, after  245 km, the on-board computer indicated a residual charge of 34% and again a range of 125 km.  The driving of the French electric car is also pleasant and undemanding: at ease in the narrow paths, it glides in the tight mix with a controlled roll without exceeding in the understeer, and only when driving in a sporting manner it is necessary to deal with a certain inertia in the  rapid changes in trajectory.

In addition, the Zoe casually tackles the fast strokes, blaming some oscillation only in the presence of bumps and depressions, but without this breaking down too much the attitude.  Braking is also safe and stable, which turns out to be effective and progressive, without being too abrupt.

It is not a gift, but with incentives the price becomes attractive

From October the new electric Renault Zoe is already orderable, with the first deliveries expected after about 90 days.  Prices range from 25,900 $ for the R110 in Life outfitting and 29,300 for the top of the R135 Intens range, up to 31,300 for the One Edition, choosing the option with a rented battery (the monthly fee goes from 74 $ for a distance of  7,500 km per year, up to 124 $ for the unlimited mileage option).  Without the rental of the battery the price goes up by 8,200 $.  Of course these are more “savory” prices than those of competitors with an internal combustion engine, but it should not be forgotten that for the electric cars there are really interesting incentives: the state ecobonus is equal to 6,000 $ in case of scrapping of Euro 1, 2 vehicles  , 3 or 4 (of 4,000 $ without scrapping), but there are also interesting reductions at the regional level: for example, Lombardy provides for a good 8,000 $, which are added to the government incentives.

In our opinion Because yes

> Space.  This car is comfortable for four adults and can even accommodate a fifth without difficulty, except for the legs of the tallest.
> Autonomy.  In the test we covered 245 km and, according to the indications of the dashboard, we could have gone on for another 125: with the new 52 kWh battery you can’t really complain.
> Pleasantness of use.  Without being sporty (the suspension gives way to a bit of rolling when the rhythm rises) the car is lively and fun even between the corners.  Furthermore, the quietness benefits the comfort.

Why not

> Accessibility of the trunk,  Renault ZOE. The capacity is generous, but to stow the bags it is hard: the access threshold is far from the ground and also forms a high step with respect to the loading plane.
> Rear access.  Tall passengers have to bend their heads a lot to access the rear seat: the door arch is low and narrow.
> Sport driving.  Certainly it is not the elective use for this car, but in the narrow and winding paths faced with a sporty look there is a certain inertia that makes it difficult to correct the trajectry.

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