Renault Fluence ZE – the best pure electric car yet? Will …

12 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Renault Fluence ZE – the best pure electric car yet? Will … отключены
Renault Electric Cars

Renault Fluence ZE – the best pure electric car yet?

The Renault Fluence ZE is a big improvement on other electric cars. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA

Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t like electric cars. Among his more reasonable objections are that you can’t go much further than 100 miles on a charge, and that the batteries might cost a bit to replace when they wear out.

Well, Renault’s Fluence ZE might go some way to making him feel a bit warmer towards pure electric cars, at least on these fronts.

First of all, the Fluence Zero Emissions manages to look like a normal car. That’s really not a given – the G-Wiz. for example, looks like something drawn by a sugar-addled five-year-old. The Fluence, by comparison, is a handsome and quite conventional saloon.

Observers won’t have a clue that it’s powered by electrons instead of petrol.

Based on a petrol car’s design, this electric version does 0-62mph in 13secs and a top speed of 84mph. Those aren’t sports car numbers of course, but because the Fluence ZE delivers all of its torque from zero revs, it does manage to feel quicker than the numbers suggest.

The five-seat interior feels conventional. It’s quite roomy up front and there is space in the back for a couple of adults. But because the battery pack lives between the back seat and the boot, the latter is a bit compromised.

Otherwise, the only real clue that you’re in a pure-electric car is the charge-level indicator where you’d normally find a rev counter. There is also a meter that shows how much energy you’re using at any given moment.

And driving the Fluence ZE couldn’t be easier. Turn the key and the word Go appears on the dash. Slot the automatic shifter into D and off you go.

It really is that simple – once you’re underway, the only clue that the Renault is electric is the eerie absence of noise at lower speeds and the seamless acceleration, unbroken by the usual gearshift jerks.

Renault Electric Cars

The Fluence ZE is actually quite good fun to drive on twisting roads, too. The ride quality. while firm, is not uncomfortable.

And now, the thing that everybody wants to know about – range. Renault says that the Fluence ZE can go 115 miles on a charge. But drive aggressively, as Clarkson might like to, and that could fall to 50 or 60 miles.

Renault is also attempting to address the battery life issue. When you buy the ZE, you own the car but only lease the battery. That means Renault sorts any problems that might arise and guarantees that the battery in your car will never have less than 75% of its original efficiency.

And there’s a wide range of battery hire options with Renault – for example, a three-year contract costs £81 per month with a 9,000-mile annual mileage allowance.

At £17,850 after the £5,000 government plug-in car grant, the Fluence ZE will be the least expensive pure-electric family car on sale mid-2012. Bear in mind, though, that you’ll need to stump up another £799 to install the recommended home charging unit, as well as the monthly battery lease fee. Against that, running costs will be much lower than for a diesel or petrol-powered alternative.

I’m pretty sure that the Fluence ZE wouldn’t convert Clarkson, but it could win over a great many others.

• Will Dron is managing editor of electric car site

Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars

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