On the road: Renault Zoe Dynamic Zen

‘For short, emission-free journeys around town, this is brilliant, and probably the best and most practical electric vehicle to date’

Zoe Williams should have driven this one, no? They should do it like that: just get the writer with the most appropriate name. So last week’s review would have been taken by our music critic (another frequent carjacker of this column), Alexis in a Lexus. Land Rovers by Jonathan Free(d)lander, obviously. Brooker C and the MG. The Daihatsu Toynbee pick-up… shut up.

Anyway, electric Zoe’s arrival couldn’t be worse timed. We’re off to north Devon for the weekend, about 220 miles from home. On arrival, Zoe’s battery gauge indicates there is 74 miles of juice (the maximum is about 90 miles). Now I’m looking at the map of charge points on the internet, and it might just be possible, with several stops, some of which are slow points (six to eight hours to fully charge), others fast (three to four hours), some even rapid (80% charge in 30 minutes). That’s still going to be a lot of hanging around service stations, with maybe one night at the Best Western Tiverton, if we’re lucky. Not exactly what I had in mind. So Zoe stays at home.

Of course, that’s not entirely fair, because driving to Devon is not what’s Zoe’s designed for. She’s for short, emission-free journeys, probably around town. And for that she’s brilliant, probably the best – and most practical – electric vehicle to date. Certainly the best value (though you do need to factor in an extra £70 a month for battery hire).

Zoe is a proper car, with room for the kids in the back and the shopping behind them, and a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, none of which you’ll get from a G-Wiz. She’s very pleasant on the inside, and a lot of fun to drive. Silently sporty even. Nought to 60 may not be up to much, but nought to 30 is a different story, and I’m leaving other cars for dead at the lights. Well, some other cars.

I can see that there are people for whom a Zoe could make sense, but I’m not one of them. I do live in a city, but I don’t use a car to get about it. I cycle and take public transport. I could very easily do without a car in town. The one time I do want wheels is to get out of it from time to time. And I want to be able to get, without stopping, if not to north Devon, then at least to the seaside. Brighton say…

Puts home-to-Brighton into a route planner, Brighton Marina, because I like the beach down that end and there are naked people to look at. Hmmm, 88.87 miles! I wouldn’t risk it: too nerve-racking. And Brighton is a stupid example, because it’s easy to reach by train. Plus it’s also possible, in the spirit of this new commission-an-article-based-on-the-name-of-the-writer journalism, that there is someone else here better qualified to visit a Marina.

Renault Zoe Dynamic Zen

Price From £13,995 (after government grant)
Top speed 84mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 13.5 seconds
Range between charges About 90 miles
Eco rating 9/10
Cool rating 6/10

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