Renault Zoe vs Nissan Leaf vs Hyundai IONIQ Electric vs BMW i3

Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai IONIQ Electric and BMW i3

The French magazine did a nice comparison of four popular electric cars: Renault Zoe; Nissan Leaf; Hyundai IONIQ Electric and BMW i3.


The article and video are well detailed and divided in parts (driving, range, charging and price). Even if you don’t understand enough French to extract information from the article, you can at least watch the video below and pretend you’re watching a French movie without subtitles…



The article has interesting information and opinions, but since they relate mostly to the French reality I’ll focus on the always useful range comparison.


The French journalists tested the range of the four electric cars in a journey of approximately 200 km between Paris and Deauville, with mixed driving, including urban, rural and motorway sections.



All electric cars were driven in ECO mode and never exceed 110 km/h on motorway (50 km), 80 km/h on national (70 km) and 70 km/h on small roads (76 km). The temperature outside was 4º C.

Here are the results…


Nissan Leaf (30 kWh): despite doing the last 50 km with the heater off, could not complete the journey. Only did 177 km.

Hyundai IONIQ Electric: 212 km

BMW i3 REx (94 Ah): 230 km in electric mode and 130 km more could be done using gas.

Renault Zoe R90 (41 kWh): 261 km


Despite being a nice comparison don’t consider it was made by using a very scientific approach, it wasn’t. The total range was calculated by adding the total distance traveled to the remaining guess-o-meter figure, it wasn’t the actual total distance traveled until the battery was fully depleted. Not only the guess-o-meter differs from car to car – and some are more optimistic than others -, the battery reserve is also different.

There is no doubt that the Nissan Leaf is the one with less range and the Renault Zoe has the most. What I always find interesting is the comparison between the Hyundai IONIQ Electric and the BMW i3. They are very different cars that get very different results depending on whose driving them. While the first is more aerodynamic and can have its regenerative braking disabled to run loose, making it ideal for the motorway, the second electric car is lighter and have an always on strong regenerative braking ready to kick in, ideal for the start-stop-start city traffic.


Beyond range, these are my own conclusions about these four electric cars:


  • Nissan needs to bring the second generation Leaf already, the first generation can no longer compete with the new alternatives and needs to retire with some dignity.
  • Hyundai needs to increase the IONIQ Electric production and availability world-wide.
  • BMW i3 because of its design will always be a car for the city environment, no matter the battery capacity. BMW needs a more aerodynamic model with five seats for wider approval.
  • Renault Zoe is great but needs an interior facelift to reach its full potential. A decent glove compartment and fold-flat 60/40 rear seats are things easy to do that would greatly increase Zoe’s practicality. Adding a CCS socket for DC fast charging and modern collision prevention safety features are also essential in a mid-life cycle update. My guess is that we can expect it for 2018.



More info:

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

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4 years ago

That BMWi3 range? Was it with use of petrol included or only electric? I drove the i3 BEV with an average speed of 72mph/112km/h and got a range of 120km. That 230km sounds unbelivable.

Dirk Ries
4 years ago
Reply to  apkungen

Well, it’s the new i3 with 94Ah battery. We’ve got the old i3 with Rex and the new one without Rex. Yes, it’s possible to drive more than 200km with the new battery. But also the old i3 drives 160km without switching the Rex on. It depends very very on the temperature and also on the speed. Now, 0 Celsius, the old i3 drives around 120km at average speed ~ 100km/h (only electric, the Rex doubles it, so I can drive without problems 240-250 km).

4 years ago
Reply to  Dirk Ries

I tested the i3 33kWh. The old one would only do 90km in those conditions. I’ve tested that one too:

4 years ago

Nice article Pedro! 🙂

Good sum-up of the French video, thank you.

We were currently in the market for a new BEV.

The funny thing is that for us, the evaluation was like this :

Renault Zoe – too small for us, and no DC
BMW i3 – Just too small
Huyndai Ioniq – No availability (7 months delivery time according to the dealer)
Operl Ampera-E – No availability (at least 12 months if we order now) and too small for us.
Nissan Leaf – Big enough for 2xrear facing child seats + troller in the back AND a decent DC

I totally agree with you, Nissan should get the new Leaf on the market asap, but in reality they will keep selling well as long as the competitors don’t deliver.

We bought a 30kwh Nissan Leaf .. and now I’m speculating on what to reserve for us for the future.