You need to keep a close eye on the Zoe to make sure it doesnâ€™t â€˜run dryâ€™
At some point in their life just about every motorist will have experienced the sight of the â€™low fuelâ€™ warning light flickering into life on the dash.
In most conventionally-fuelled cars, these warnings are set to go off long before youâ€™ll actually need to visit a station for a top-up. Even though it may look like the needle is bending against the â€˜Eâ€™ stop on the gauge youâ€™ll usually have getting on for 50 miles left before the engine expires with a weary cough. Lots of notice to find a life-extending forecourt, in other words.
Electric cars can be different. When the Renault Zoe eventually tells you itâ€™s running low on battery charge, and therefore range, it means it.
Weâ€™ve been running around in a new Zoe for a few months now. Our aim is to determine whether the new modelâ€™s improved range and sharp pricing structure have finally established it as a genuine pure electric small car for the masses.
A big part of that determination process will boil down to the Zoeâ€™s actual range, as opposed to its advertised one. Most of our Zoeâ€™s runaround duties are carried out in or near to London offices, so we charged it up and set off to see how far we could go. Not until only 11 miles remained on the â€˜estimated rangeâ€™ readout did we get a warning from the car that it was running low. This warning came in the form of the dial suddenly turning amber and an â€˜empty batteryâ€™ icon flashing up in red with an accompanying beep.
What happened next? The infotainment system asked if weâ€™d like to be directed to the nearest charging station, and popped up a list of options. You ignore that sort of friendly advice at your peril. As luck would have it, we werenâ€™t far from a suitably-equipped station, but it did make us wonder whether every Zoe owner (particularly those living out in the countryside) would be that lucky.
Of course, at the end of the day itâ€™s down to the driver to be aware of the remaining charge, but we still think an earlier reminder of impending disaster would be useful, especially for owners who might not be used to an EVâ€™s quirks.
Otherwise, itâ€™s all good. In fact, weâ€™d go as far as to say that anyone with an average-sounding 13-mile London commute like ours will struggle to find a more relaxing car to do it in.