Friday, March 8, 2013

Renault Zoé : Simply the best city car in the world ?

Renault has chosen to invite us in Lisbon this winter to test drive what will be the first electric car "mass". Difficult to refuse the invitation, because in addition to take place under skies and mild spring temperatures, this test allows us to complete our overview of electric cars on the market, since besides being a daily user Peugeot Ion, you will read in our column tests almost everything that you can carry in electric mode, the Nissan Leaf to Renault Twizy very offbeat, not to mention the exclusive Tesla Roadster (S version, not to make things by halves). Find out why you'd be stupid to turn its back on this little fairy power.

Say that we have been seduced by Zoe line is an understatement: at first glance, it obsoletes all Renault. Based on the same platform as the Clio, Zoe sharing a few centimeters the size of its predecessor except height or integration of batteries caused enhancement of headroom. Curiously, this growth brings little Zoé proportions more balanced than its predecessor heat.

Simple shapes and clean, ultra thin front light, rear inspired by leaves, blue details (on the enlarged logo, optics, chrome and glass), three LED daytime running lights placed in very discreet gills. The body sides are sculpted light and generally plays with the body ... The design is so successful that we could take the fairy electricity for a Renault concept car. This is not surprising because it retains 90% of the traits concept unveiled by the diamond brand a few years ago. Clio IV, just out, seems to have a generation behind to face the latest addition. To believe that for designers, the legacy of stylistic codes of a line is a constraint that wealth. If c is indeed the case, we can not advise that all brands of automotive designers to let go for the chance to meet aboutis vehicles also stylistically Zoe.
The only regret that overcomes pneumatic 17 "option, which magnifies the design of the beautiful, or classic shod do not offer the features of low rolling resistance tires available in 16" (up to 15 km autonomy with additional Michelins ZE 16 ").

But the charm does not stop outside line, since the interior is also much more modern than the rest of the production hexagonal, while sober, minimalist and Zen. Traditional meters were replaced by a TFT screen with multiple customizable environments (3 in total, actually quite close to each other), which change color depending on your driving.

The large touchscreen R-Link inaugurated by Clio IV is present in Zoe, with some specificity, as an indicator of autonomy of the vehicle on the map (as very indicative) analyzer air quality outside, or even a 3D graph visually represents the energy flow of the vehicle. The white part of the dashboard is a wink green, reminiscent of a wind turbine blade.

Finally, the interior exudes well-being (be it due to the ionizer, the charcoal filter and aroma diffuser that equipped our test model), is practical and easy to live with (especially with the seats Teflon treated, a real plus daily) without delirium engineering or urban designer as some may suffer. Only the glove box a bit small, but especially the strong reflection of the upper part of the dashboard (regardless of the selected interior atmosphere) on the windshield, we authorize to criticize ... just press auto " traditional "good will tell you that the plastics are hard, but because they look good and are soft to the touch, it will not prevent you daily if you're not part of the clan mixers dashboard ( and above all it saves a few grams).

As converted to electric mobility (I am the proud owner of a Peugeot Ion), I can assure you that it is difficult to make a more enjoyable everyday electric car. Silent operation, no gearbox, the available torque at low revs, the strengths of the electric meet all of the worries of daily and regulations (we are increasingly imitated speed, but never accelerating).
Compared to cars already on the market, Zoe has no rival. Yes, no. The triplet Peugeot Ion / Mitsubishi iMiEV / Citroën C-Zero is more compact, and the Nissan Leaf is greater. This is not why this "equivalent Clio" played electric simplicity. Renault has just made the most accomplished Zoe electric cars available today on French soil.
Behavior on the road and in town is near perfect (as we do not want to play sports, the Zoe is clearly not suitable if you want to reach your destination), the seats are quite comfortable and enveloping, suspension gum very well road imperfections while remaining firm ...

Even pedestrians are not forgotten, because thanks to a buzzer active between 1 and 30km / h, they will be notified of your pass through one of three sounds very elaborate and very futuristic. I was afraid that the noise does not spoil the silence of VE from the outside, but it is very quiet, just what we need. And if you really want to stay stealthy, you can disable it.

Regarding the practical details, Zoe is provided, since his chest is particularly large for the category, and Renault engineers have thought of little annoyances load in public place by integrating a self-locking cable recharge (unlockable via the Renault hands-free card). Finished the beast EV padlock Japanese (can not blame the Japanese engineers for this oversight, vandalism is not at all in their culture ...)

Zoe is not perfect yet, but the negatives are not likely to diminish its charm.
Driving at, even if the handling is very good, the battery weight is felt (290kg anyway), and you can feel the weight of the vehicle on the front axle are linked when cornering at high speed . But this conduct is not likely to intervene too often for ordinary users of the small Renault.
Always driving range, Renault has been prudent behavior by typing Zoe as a car Thermal unlike other electric vehicles, simply release the accelerator will not cause a sharp slowdown due to energy recovery. Although new users VE do not see a great defect, those of us (and many others apparently) appreciate being able to lead "a foot" by not touching almost never find the brake pedal Decision Renault somewhat backward compared to the overall relevance of the technical choices made on Zoe. But do not worry, the little Renault knows also recover kinetic energy to perfection, as the brake operated by a computer which minimizes the use of hydraulic braking system.

Side details that angry in the cabin, the system interface R-Link is not the most responsive, and we really hope that a software update will be sufficient to remove its dead some time. Finally, the audio system is a particularly poor quality and gives us hope that the partnership Renault / Bose receive one day Zoe.

You are tempted to make the leap to electric mobility? You can install a wallbox at home, and you're less than 100km per day? Zoe should make you completely forget the combustion engine, as it is accomplished.
This city, with its aggressive pricing, is a real tool for Renault conquest, the advantages of electric urban women do go for dinosaurs noisy, smoky and soft ... If you think the electricity is not for you but you spend at least 80 € gasoline while traveling less than 3000km per month with one of your cars, you might want to redo your calculations and make a small test of Zoe.
Only the absence of occasional charging cable, cable for charging in "Mode 2", ie trickle charge on any 220V (or almost, it must still withstand 16A for several hours) blocks a little freedom to charge from a friend or loved one "too far." Hopefully it will be available soon, although Renault officials did not seem in a hurry to make it available.

The +:
+ Superb line
+ Presentation
+ Finshing
+ Comfort
Silence +
+ Qualities road
+ Talk for a generous supply
+ Equipment than a supermini equivalent
+ Heating heat pump efficient battery
+ Lock Automatic charging cable
+ Can be programmed preheat the cabin when the car is plugged
+ Possibility to check the state of charge on your smartphone
+ Design sound very neat (startup sound, warning pedestrians)

The -:
- No charging cable available at launch occasional
- Fort reflection of the dashboard on the windshield in the sun
- Cost battery leasing rate (point to withdraw if the prices of gasoline rose sharply)
- Not enough engine braking compared to other electric: Can lead to "pedal"
- Poor quality audio system (Bose extend partnership to Zoe!)
- Rear in a block
- Noise bearing (slightly) present on national highways
- The lack of false LED for a car of 2013
- Option rims 17 "with too much impact on the autonomy
- Not (yet) RS version

Source: & Google Translate

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