First Drive: Renault Fluence Z.E.
Whether the debate is informed or not depends on the company you keep, but there is evidence that a growing number of drivers are starting to accept the fact the EVs are forcing their way onto the fleet scene and are here for the foreseeable future.
If you jump behind the wheel of a Renault Fluence Z.E. and hit the gas you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. Brisk acceleration, plenty of creature comforts and a vehicle that doesn’t consign you to the darkest corner of the company car park make this a vehicle you certainly won’t be ashamed to be seen in. Just as long as you haven’t got further to travel than the indicated range… then, Houston, you have a problem.
Range is the key, but those who have a predictable journey pattern and access to a recharging point will find the reasons not to buy being stripped away like the skins of a French onion.
On-the-road price for the basic version is £18,395 after the £5,000 plug-in car grant, though the version tested had leather seats, metallic paint and a home charging lead, bringing the price up to £20,234. You could get a very nice Megane for that money, but with the tax advantages and low running costs that go with zero-emission vehicles the Fluence Z.E. is priced to sell.
On top of the purchase price there’s a battery leasing charge ranging from £86.40 for 12mths/6,000 miles p.a. to £118.20 for 36mths/18,000 miles p.a. In the case of the latter, that will buy you around 820 miles worth of diesel in a 45mpg car.
The most vocal critics of EVs are the people who haven’t driven one – ask them yourself. The limitations are there for all to see but now that cars are coming on stream that look, feel and drive as well as their conventionally powered counterparts, it’s going to take a truly Luddite attitude to dismiss them out of hand.
A fascinating experience for the first-timer. Add the smell of candy floss and a few yobs and you could be on the dodgems at Southend Pier.
Sector: Lower medium
Type: Battery-electric vehicle
Electric range: 115 miles
CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 0g/km
Charging port: N/A