Before I get into the main topic, I need to make a suggestion. I think that these 2 videos should be compusory viewing, if you're going to be an EV salesperson: -
Right, back on topoic. On Friday, 18th July 2014 @ 14:00, I test drove a Renault Zoe Pure Electric Vehicle: -
I was blown away ;D
I had the usual worries and I wasn't really expecting the technology to be so mature, but there it was, perfectly "car" like & it drives just like my automatic I.C.E. vehicle, but on the EV I have a fabulous gauge that shows a continual estimate of my remaining range, which you don't get with an I.C.E. car!
I could find almost nothing at all wrong with the Zoe on my test drive - It's bloody lovely - I was very impressed. I drove approximately 14 miles, in various road types and absolutely loved it. When we arrived back at the starting point, we had used about 8 miles of the available range, which one of my colleagues said was plain inaccurate, but it's an estimation meter and can only use past driver performance and journey type, to guess at the range. It actually just fills me with confidence that if I drive sensibly like I was doing (most of the time), smooth, lots of anticipation and gentle braking only when required (basically how my Dad taught me - "Treat it like a piece of silk", he'd say), the driving style, combined with the regeneration on overrun (letting off the accelerator pedal) and while braking, is pretty efficient. I think the salesman might have had a lead foot, as the performance comparison after only 14 miles with me at the wheel, went up considerably!
The power delivery is gradual and super smooth. It's not a sports car, but I know that's not what I'm buying. Part of me was wanting the acceleration to be blistering and almost frightening, but the adult part of me was really delighted to find that on the occasions where I totally gunned it, deliberately trying to expose some raw & inelegant torque, I was unable to do so. The power delivery was very solid and acceleration from standstill is progressive, so you seem unable to lose control or stability at the slowest speed, but as your speed increases (quite rapidly), you can feel that the power being delivered is ample - even though this is a small family car, it doesn't lack power (well, "torque", which has a better feel than "power").
There are the odd few trim items that felt a bit tacky & "plasticky" (door trim, front-seat arm-rest tray), but they were plastic parts and I understand that better quality trim weighs more and that costs money and reduces range. I'm just spoiled by the luxury leather interior of my current car - I'll get over it. The parts which you interact with directly during driving (steering wheel and controls), all feel pretty good.
The electric power-steering in the car-park was almost too powerful and light, but you want light steering when parking, so it's something to get used to, not a problem. Out on the road, it's perfect.
One of the things the salesperson didn't know was that between 0-17 mph, the Renault Zoe emits a noise, so that people in the vicinity know there's a car there and moving. It's called the "Renault ZE Voice" & is mainly to stop the EV driver from running over unsuspecting pensioners and children. I was aware of the noise both as the salesman pulled up before the road-test and also after it, when he drove off, returning to base. I was not aware of it during my test drive, half of which was spent with the window open.
I don't think the sales guy believed me when I asked/suggested that it was deliberately making & emitting a special "noise". A chat with the Renault sales manager and some Googling cleared it up for me. The noise is a default, but you can turn it off. Here are the choices owners have ("Pure" being the default & also my favourite). I would love it if you could hack the system to sound like the W.O.P.R. from "Wargames".
The one fly in the ointment, was the light-coloured dashboard, which is constantly visible, reflected in the front windscreen and quite distracting. That horrible "you-can-almost-see-the-dashboard-reflected-in-the-windscreen-better-than-the-actual-road" light coloured dash, is a deal-breaker for me :(
Fortunately, I just have to wait til Q4 of 2014 which will see Renault releasing a facelifted Zoe, with some of the blue-chrome trim elements being changed to normal chrome, but most importantly, a dark dashboard (I think they have had a few complaints about the light coloured dash). I'm not sure why they're messing about with the chrome trim, it's quite funky in blue & everyone who's seen the image above (which I pulled from the Renault Zoe configurator) have commented that they really liked it - very distinctive, in a good way.
I was quite prepared to trade in my Kia Sportage SE 2.7l V6 Auto, at the earliest opportunity (I've done the maths and I can actually afford it), but now I wait...
UPDATE @ 2014-10-22: I took delivery of my Zoe @ 15:30 and I love her already. Also, the standard 16" alloys are perfectly decent and in proprtion with the car, so I might end up saving £2k on that front :)
UPDATE @ 2015-01-23: I've now driven ~1300 miles and had only a couple of issues. One was a tiredness-induced mistake (not seeing that my junction's off-ramp was closed) that forced an unplanned charge from the Ecotricity Electric Super Highway Charging Point in Le Delamere. The other was in a recent cold snap, when it took several tries and some frantic wiggling of the charging plug handle, to get it to disengage - the locking mechanism was "frosty".
UPDATE @ 2016-02-01: It's been over a year now and I still love my Zoe. With the home charger, I just haven't needed to charge elsewhere - since the "tiredness induced incident".
UPDATE @ 2016-06-08: My previous car, a Kia Sportage 2.7l V6 (Petrol). I loved it, but it was expensive to run, so when I did the maths and saw that moving to a Renault Zoe Electric Vehicle, would give me an immediate £800/annum cost saving (encompassing fuel, tax & servicing). After the 4 years of 0% finance is over, the cost savings will be an additional £230/month!