‘Ready’ – it wrote with key card in. Just like that. Hop in and go, no questions asked. Alright. Quiet in here, been waiting for a while now to drive an EV with no pressure on me. Anxiety-meter halfway, showing 147 kilometers left, not that bad. Even if I wanted to make some fault up for the sake of being anti-future, I wouldn’t do it enough justice. Hand on shifter then, put it into reverse. Back-up camera on. Steering’s hard. Slowly push the throttle, roll. Dash says ‘3kph’, seems about right. But why is it so damn tough to steer? Maybe it’s cause entry-level car like this needed to take some liberties? Funny, I’m defending it already.
‘Off’ it was. Okay, joke’s on me I guess. Gotta focus more. Push the ‘start’ button first.
Renault Zoe is nothing but a Clio without an engine. It’s cheaply made homage to the way of the future as imagined a decade ago. Big idea, but influence? Well. Look at their concepts from the past, ambition that never came to life. Full-production Vel Satis and Avantime tried their best. First one wasn’t classy enough to lure in executives. Second one’s just a sporty minivan made to look like pro-running pair of leggings on obese butt. Current daring productions? 220 horsepower Clio RS, quirky rear wheel drive Twingo. Plentiful potential. Yeah, for wealthy reality-dodgers. With hangars to store everything that became unique due to low sales numbers. What about ‘normal’ cars? Because mighty flagship Talisman depreciates faster than sushi. In reality, these cars simply disappear. Entry level, city-tailored cars being one of the most popular out there. Being stuck to production of cheap cars is a burden in constant up-marketing practices. Plenty of arguments to be made here then. Baseline price starts where well-equipped Audi A3’s are. And you’re not to find any gizmos that Clio doesn’t have – you could buy 2 and a half of those instead. So, that’s the money talk. I can hear the voice of reason – petrol engined vehicles are nothing but moving explosions after all. Eco-friendly spouse-pressesure concentrated on longevity made willingness to pay more a real thing. And since morning rubbing isn’t anymore, you’ll do so. Break the bank, split the possibilities to get your life dad jokingly ‘electrified’ again. Even though there’s no logic backin’ it up found on paper. At first glance it seems to be just the kind of car for someone with enough money and real estate at the big city suburbs. Think about it. Porsche Macan for road trips, Yamaha R6 to have fun in the summer and Corvette C6 to have fun every-day-else. Oh, and cable here? Is for charging Zoe standing outside. Cheap to daily drive beater. Comes with a free excuse to skip few destinations because of range limitation.
In big European cities that change their minds every two years, such Renault is perfect with its setup as well as philosophy. Now, what does it mean really?
On the old continent, there is a strange tendency for fluidity of views. Therefore, our metropolies were never really built for the future to come, but to please the present while it lasts. Every man is born as many men, but dies as a single one. So what’s the point of legacy if you can’t afford one? Would’ve thought that it’s recent, postmodern notion that the truth is, there is no Truth. People acknowledged, and stood up immediately – ‘We want room for bikes and need it NOW!‘ – alright. Word goes around, becomes loud enough to pass legislation, throw some money away. Paths are built. Once they got a bit quieter? Screw them, new trend – ‘cyclists are everywhere, but I ride a bus. What about ME?! (echoing ‘me’ in the distance)‘ – okay, leaflets get printed, drivers annoyed. Bicycles get smashed to pieces on bus lanes. We have some newer trams with air conditioning. Great. Another group of happy customers (cough) CITIZENS! Anger of the other arises – ‘there are only bus lanes and bike-paths in this city […] Everything stealing OUR tarmac! Driver’s tarmac!‘ – aw, god dammit, just shut up will you? There you go, some new roads, some old ones restored. Obviously all at the same time, because that’s the practical joke city officials planned all along. What? Cyclists are back? And group of all-post-sex-change extramural freeskate rollerblade champions too?
The circle repeats, and nothing gets ever finished. So, in cities like this, that want to be 100% public transportation sufficient or whatever, but aren’t… where it takes 45 kilometers of constant traffic, road works and swerving in front of angry people just to get from one end to the other… comes something calm and humble.
She’s quiet. Cute but not smug. Looks well taken care of. We all know lots of people will be pissed because of that. Hearing the name ‘Zoe’ will make them look for Frank Underwood to replicate the fate of Barnes. Prone to hate she is, yes. If given a chance, could surprise you. Laying pavement for the future to come. It’ll be one of those, to save automobiles from fading away. Even if we just don’t get it yet. And years are needed, with concentrated collaboration regardless of changing trends, to finally understand.
Up to city speeds? Surprisingly fast, AND fun. Especially drag-racing everybody on each intersection. I can be off a bit, but it could take Q90 version just 3-4s to 50kph. Going higher gets exponentially hard but launches up to there will put a smile on your face, confuse everyone around. Also leave your wallet alone, that’s important. Taking it on narrow, city centre streets though, I opened my eyes wider. Going out of the corner with full-throttle, mirror away from scratching shiny Jaguars, catching remains of grip from thin tires. Had a blast. No one is expecting this to change directions so quickly and carelessly as it does. Of course it’s just a 92 horsepower with 220Nm stuck with powering front wheels. But with obvious instant torque? In post-growth era of cars, where fat pillars, flat noses and crossover vehicles took over, Zoe brings good old-fashioned slow-car-fast driving of 90’s hatches back. Suspension? Typical Renault. Having a twisty blast takes about 15mins before dizziness takes over. What could start to justify the price. Because to give it fully reasonable 300 kilometers of range, even though it’s just a 4-metre little hatchback, weight had to go through the roof. To one and a half tonne. Since it’s going past every corner very Clio-like, there must’ve been some chassis and suspension strengthening wizardry done. Interior-wise, nothing you wouldn’t get with its siblings. Brakes are good, with regenerative drums in the back. Careful approach is advised as lifting the throttle instantly catapults passengers into state of inertia. Other than that? It’s a car. You have seats, one steering wheel and some tiny touch-ups reminding you about it’s fully electric identity. But then again, are you really going to forget?
Yes. And that’s the point. It’s supposed to make you sick when driving like a maniac, even if below the speed limit. It’s supposed to be as comfy and practical as used 98′ Corolla. And finally, it’s supposed to be just a regular car. Like the one just mentioned. Every monumental accomplishment in the history of mankind, required lots of sacrifices to get done. We all know many stories proving it. Even from our personal lives. Starting at the very base, made out of people working night shifts in the factories, unable to afford what marketing considers reliable entry-level car. Going all the way through the management obviously NOT driving Renault’s. Up to our very feet, it is presented. And I respect it. The hard research and work, of course. Also the very niche target audience marketing aims at. If not the people changing their expensively leased cars every three years, you wouldn’t be able to afford what is, a practically a brand new car. This way, it stands for half of its value. Not original enough? Take all these supposedly dumb single mothers for instance. With huge, unnecessary houses, feeling the need of ejaculative eradiating with their artificial wealth. Purchasing black SUV’s because they ‘look good’ with second-hand Gucci high heels. Not even thinking about either maintenance of the car or their own. Trip to work is 5 kilometers long and weekends are busy with side-gigs just to pay everything off. Pushing kids to the limits of unintentional psychological abuse, just so they can repeat her mistakes. If not all this, you would probably found yourself in a reality, where it’s hipster-ish to drive a freaking Volkswagen Tiguan. The whole thing about being a rockstar, isn’t all about talent and charisma. It’s inclusive circle and limited access. Very little people develop and then willingly drop the dream of becoming one. She does.
You can make up many reasons why Renault Zoe exists, but it’s here to stay. Because in the big picture, fast forward few years, and it’s going to be one of those used, entry-level, ‘first electric’ cars. Rolling playfully around city streets, with some more infrastructure to suit them. Beaten by life in some ways. Creating background to the history of equally wounded people with mortgages, 9-5 jobs and flatulence. At the same time, taking good care of the brilliant and desirable look powerful, 3-liter, turbocharged straight sixes spread. So let’s thank Zoe. For taking the responsibility of being a regular hatchback, while bringing back the fun of driving one.