New electric and hybrid models are showing some impressive results and beginning to break out on the Motability Scheme.

Renault Zoe Electric

Electric cars provide smooth and easy driving – not to mention the mild satisfaction, deserved by drivers that are doing the right thing by the environment.

The new R110 engine packs 80kW (that’s 108hp in what will one day, be ‘old money’) maximum power and new maximum torque of 225Nm and is available on Dynamique Nav and Signature Nav models.

The Q90 Quick Charge engine is available as an option on Dynamique Nav and Signature Nav for £750 +VAT, but delivers the distinct advantage of going from 0 – 80% charge in a mere 65 minutes with Renault’s Chameleon charger, a 43 kW rapid charging point found at motorway service stations. (If you were wondering, Renault reckons that there are about 6,000 charging points across the UK – and increasing all the time.)

Zoe has a driving range of up to 186 miles – although it’s more like 175 if you average 50mph (119 if you average 70mph). There are other variables, including temperature and load, but you get the idea.

Home charging (7kw) 0 – 100% will take around 7-8 hours – and again, if you were wondering about the cost efficiency, it works out at around 3p per mile. A grant for installing the home kit required makes it effectively free – and that’s got to be better than waiting the 20 hour charging time required if you plug it into a domestic socket.

Zoe features rear parking sensors, ABS with electronic brake distribution and emergency brake assist as well as cruise control and with an upgrade, reverse parking camera.

Renault also supply Zoe with DAB radio and the R-Link multimedia system with integrated TomTom navigation.

Zoe definitely punches above her weight.

MINI Countryman Hybrid

If you aren’t quite ready to commit to the electric dream, a plug-in hybrid with both an engine and electric motor, might be the compromise you’re looking for.

The Auto eDrive is the default mode when you start up. The car then calculates the most efficient combination of electric motor and petrol engine, based on your speed, acceleration and battery status. Save Battery mode preserves a 90% charge by letting the petrol engine work and charge concurrently. Moving between modes causes no discernible changes in driving feel or capability.

MAX eDrive is the ‘electric only’ mode where you’ll achieve up to around 77mph with the lithium-ion battery kept at its optimum temperature by an advanced cooling system, meaning also that it lasts longer and performs well for an extended lifetime.

Despite being a hybrid the Countryman is still a MINI and that means a decent standard features list including sat nav with real-time traffic updates, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth through a 6.5 inch screen and rear parking distance control.

The Countryman Plug-in Hybrid will hit 62 mph in just under seven seconds and has a boot capacity of 405 litres.