elmo Rapid Review #2: Renault ZOE ZE50

Sometimes it’s fun to watch a presenter critique a car while driving it through peculiarly deserted, picturesque roads. But sometimes you just want to cut the fluff and find out what makes the car good or bad and whether it’s the right car for you.

We’re trying to do just that in our ‘Rapid Review’ series. In this bitesize review we will tell you everything you need to know about the Renault ZOE ZE50. With no added fluff.

You can watch our video version or read on. Either way, it’ll only take about 3 minutes.

Renault ZOE ZE50: What’s it like?

The ZOE has been a household name for electric cars since 2012. The ZE50 is the third generation of ZOE after the ZE and ZE40. Both earlier models are hugely popular and known for being cute, stylish and affordable (at least in electric car terms).

But as the market becomes more competitive, this ZE50 has its work cut out. So how does it do?

Well, for a start, it’s kept the iconic ZOE look but with a little lift here and tuck there to suit its improved range and all-round performance.

It’s still cute but LED lights, blue accents around the exterior and a slightly creased bonnet give it a sportier, edgier feel.

Inside it’s had a huge upgrade. From recycled yarn fabrics to wireless phone charging and a Tesla-style infotainment tablet, it packs a lot of tech for its price range. (Of course this depends on the spec you choose from the Play, Iconic and GT options.)

As 5-door hatchbacks come, it is small. Upfront it’s suitable for most. But in the back, taller adults won’t be comfortable for long. But, you can get 6 cabin bags in the boot as well as the charging cable.

How does it perform?

In terms of performance, the ZE50 comes in either R110 or R135 versions. R110 will get you from 0-60mph in 11.4 seconds with a top speed of 84mph.

While the more powerful R135 takes 9.2 seconds and maxes out at 87mph.

Clearly, neither option is particularly sporty but, as with most electric cars, they feel quick off the line and are fun to drive especially in urban traffic.

The ZE50 also comes with regenerative braking as standard, and if you switch to ‘B’ mode, you’ll be able to drive with just one pedal and recharge more strongly by braking. Just mind your stopping distances as this takes a bit of getting used to...

So far so good!

Now for the important bits...

How far does it go?

The good folk at Renault say that the ZE50 has an official WLTP range of 245 miles thanks to its 52kWh battery and an efficiency of 280Wh/mile.

In real life, ZE50 drivers report a range varying between 150 miles in winter and 230 in summer.

For a car originally designed for runaround driving in towns and cities, that’s mighty impressive!

With those sorts of ranges, most people will be able to do all their charging at home where it’ll charge from 10-80% in the time it takes for a good night’s sleep. That’s 8h 30 on a standard 7.4kw wallbox charger.

For those who tend to travel further, there’s more good news. The ZE50 is the first ZOE to come with a CCS fast charging option (though it is £750 extra) and will charge from 10-80% in 56 mins on the increasing number of 50kw rapid chargers.

That’s adding 86 miles of range in under half an hour!

How does it compare?

The ZE50 R110 has a starting price of about £26k and an official range of 245 miles.

The more powerful R135 has a price tag from just over £28k and an official range of 238 miles.

This is how they compare to the other all-electric hatchbacks currently on the market:

There are a number of cheaper options including the Mini Electric, VW e-up!, SEAT Mii Electric and Skoda CITIGOe IV, but none of them come close to matching the ZE50 on range.

The closest is the sporty and stylish Peugeot e-208 which costs from £25.5k and has a range of 211 miles.

Compared with some slightly larger hatchbacks, the ZE50 is cheaper than the 62kWh Nissan Leaf e+ and more expensive than the 40kWh version. Yet astonishingly, it matches the e+ for range.

It’s also far cheaper than the BMW i3 despite having considerably more range.

So who’s it for?

Renault have got a lot right with this car. And if you’re in the market for an all-electric hatchback, it’s almost certainly your best bet.

What’s good?

  • It wins hands-down for range in its price bracket
  • It’s a great-looking runaround car that can also cope well with motorway driving
  • It’s efficient, cheap to run and well-equipped.

What's bad?

  • Tall families will need something more spacious
  • And despite its range, it’s still a runaround car and not really suitable for regular road-trippers!

Our Verdict

For hatchback drivers looking to make the switch to an electric car, the ZOE ZE50 is in our opinion overall the absolute winner in its category and offers unbeatable value for its range, performance and spec.

What do you think of the Renault ZOE ZE50? 

Would you need the rapid charge option or could you always charge at home? 

Try our Suitability Tool to find out and if you're interested in trying one on subscription, head over to our electric car page here: https://elmodrive.com/electric-cars