The goal of this blog has been to find out, how would a petrolhead Mercedes guy feel about an all-electric Renault. How would a Renault ZOE be in long term use? My planned ZOE ownership is now at the halfway point through the period that I have agreed with the dealer. It's a good point to sum up the experiences so far.
In a nutshell, the Renault ZOE Z.E. 50 R110 Zen has done its job well as the second car in our family. The red Renault has many great qualities, it has been a great selling electric car in Europe. But is the ZOE the perfect EV for you? It depends on what do you expect from a car. If you are a petrolhead and passionate about cars, I must say I can recommend it only with some reservations. It is a pity: Renault’s slogan ”Passion For Life” sounds to me like a promise also to people who are passionate about cars.
But not all people are passionate about cars. There are a lot of people who are happy with a vehicle that will take them to the office in the morning and to supermarket in the evening, and that can even do a small roadtrip to Mänttä to see the Banksy exhibition at the Serlachius Musum Gösta. If this describes you, and if you are looking for electric mobility in an easy-to-approach package, please remember to add the ZOE Z.E. 50 to your list, it will be worth checking out.
I did a ZOE trip to see exhibition too, and found out that there are free EV charging stations at the museum. In the picture our ZOE is enjoying the free power, while the driver and the passengers are enjoying Banksy's street art - excellent service!
After half a year with the ZOE Z.E. 50, the “TOP3 Positives” are:
After half a year with the ZOE Z.E. 50, the “TOP3 Negatives” are:
- Everything around the driver is well organized and logical. Except the quirks that I have mentioned in my previous posts, all the controls are where they should be, and the operation feels natural.
- The quality feel when sitting behind the steering wheel. The materials are nice and there are no irritating squeaks or rattles. Some ZOE owners have reported about a rattling trunk cover and the challenges in fixing the irritating noises. Thankfully, our ZOE hasn't had this problem, I don't like squeaks or rattles in my car.
- Sufficient range. As I reported in my ZOE EV Winter Test, the 2021 winter was very cold. There were long periods when the temperature was below -20C. Our ZOE did not have a warm car park, it spent the entire winter season outside. Even during the coldest arctic freezing periods, the practical range of the ZOE was more than 200 km. Now in the summer, when the temperature has been between 20-30C, the long-term average energy consumption shows 12,4kWh, which is well in line with Renault’s 395 kilometer WLTP range promise.
- Lack of lumbar support. The driver’s seat looks nice, but the seat is not comfortable on longer trips. If you need to sit there for more than half an hour, you will find yourself looking for better lumbar support. The limiting factor in long distance driving is not the electric range, it is the back pain. Same applies to the passenger seat, so please listen to your passengers' need for a coffee break too.
- Poor trunk design. I am playing keyboards in a band, and I need to transport my instrument. Packing my instrument into the trunk of our Mercedes is easy and safe, the rear seats fold completely flat. The instrument fits into the ZOE too, but packing it there is a pain. When I am on the road with the ZOE, I need to pack it extra carefully, and add a supporting pillow or bag to protect the instrument for its safety. The Renault’s rear seats don’t fold flat and the trunk is a deep well. Without the additional support and protection my instrument would be leaning on the corner of the folded seats, swinging up and down as I drive on the road. Many Renault cars have had great versatile rear seats and useful cargo space. Why didn't the ZOE deserve better?
- Weak paint. My experience is that metallic paint is pretty strong. I have washed, cleaned and waxed the ZOE like an auto geek. The car has less than 10000 km, so I would expect the Flamme Red metallic paint to be immaculate, but it isn’t. I drive 99,9% on paved roads. The ZOE has done only a couple of kilometers of unpaved roads, but there are already some stone chips on the rear doors. I guess the airflow sends stones from the front tires to rear doors. In comparison, our Mercedes has a higher mileage than the ZOE, the Mercedes is regular white non- metallic, and it has pretty extreme offset tires - but no stone chips. The badge on the trunk has weak paint too. The ZOE had only 3000 km on the clock when I noticed that the blue ZE model designation started to fade out. Now, at the halfway through the planned ownership period, there is only little blue left. I haven’t seen this quick fading emblems in any of the cars that I have owned, and some of them have been high mileage cars!
There are three more things that didn't make it to the TOP3, but that I feel can’t be skipped. I remember them every time, when I think about my ZOE experience so far.
- Front door design. The ZOE Z.E. 50 has doors that curve up into the roofline. I haven’t been able to figure out the benefits of this design. When it snows, snow will go into the gap. A snow brush won’t remove all the snow from the gap. When you open the door, that snow will fall onto your seat.
- No clearly marked jacking points. In the spring, when it was time to change summer tires, I noticed that there were no fool proof marked jacking points, where to position my garage jack. The owner’s manual did not say anything about the jacking points. The ZOE doesn’t come with a jack that I could look and that would give hints on how the French engineers have designed a Renault EV to be jacked. This was the first time ever, when I have had to contact the customer support to ask, where can I safely place my garage jack.
- Bad customer experience. The car has done its job well and despite of the TOP3 Negatives, the ZOE has been a good family member. Unfortunately, the dealer’s ability to manage the customer experience after signing the order contract has not been good. I hope something will change soon. Soon it will be time to start planning what to do when my current ZOE contract is ending.