The route that Renault has carefully programmed into the satnav of our Zoe electric car climbs up into the hills above the town of Cascais in Portugal. But just as the settlement begins to thin, the course mapped out on the screen curves around on itself, heading back towards narrow streets and a looming appointment with a hotel carpark and a charging cable. “Turn left,” repeats the insistent voice from the centre console, as I sit motionless at the junction.
I check the range prediction in the slim blade of the digital instrument panel. There’s still almost half of a full 90-mile charge remaining – a very comfortable margin to play with. So I decide not to do as I’m told. I switch the nagging voice off and go right.
It’s a good decision. We’re soon following a rippling black ribbon of tarmac flanked by lush green slopes, rising high above us on one side and rolling away towards a distant smudge of ocean on the left. The surface is smooth, the corners frequent, the scenery magnificent and the traffic sparse. It’s a dream combination. Or it would be if Zoe were a little more obliging.