Renault has cranked up the design aggression meter up to eleven on the 2020 ZOE and its interior is finally pleasant

Our readers from North America may not really be familiar with the Renault Zoe, but it is actually the best selling all-electric vehicle in Europe, so the fact that a new one has been launched is a pretty big deal. It’s definitely an evolution of the old car and not a dramatic, revolution, but it addresses some key concerns people had with it in the past in order to make it even more enticing for city types who don’t want a small EV.

The 2020 Renault ZOE has freshened up exterior design, a much improved interior (it sorely needed), a battery pack has 30 percent extra capacity over the old one and new tech that was not available on the old ZOE. And having improved the car in all these areas, Renault has a chance of staying on top of EV sales in Europe, even though there are far more rivals out now than there were when the ZOE debuted, back in 2012.

2020 Renault ZOE DESIGN

Renault didn’t want to go overboard with changing the design of the ZOE. So it didn’t and the result is a vehicle clearly recognizable as a ZOE, but one that is much sharper to look at from all angles. Whereas before it perhaps looked a bit too round and lacking in design punch, with this major redesign, it has been made to look far more aggressive, especially from the front.

The headlights are all-new and full-LED, as is the hood that now has bold creases running the length of it and the redesigned bumper has chrome accents to give the car more of an elegant feel (that it didn’t have before). The rear light clusters are also new and also all-LED. They are the same shape as those of the old car, but now they have two dual LED strips running across them and they loo far more modern. The rear bumper looks redesigned too, but it’s nothing to write home about.

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All these changes, plus the new style alloy rims certainly help improve the way a ZOE is perceived. Renault is clearly trying to make its little EV more appealing and it’s well aware rivals are going to enter the segment guns blazing, so it needs to be the best it can be in order to face off against them.

2020 Renault ZOE interior improvements

2020 Renault ZOE EV has sharper looks, more range and two motor options
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However, none of the exterior enhancements would serve it much if the dreadful interior of the old ZOE didn’t get a massive hike in design and (especially) quality feel. And thankfully, it did. Whereas the old car’s interior made you feel like you were driving a public lavatory with windows, the new one has much nicer materials and a design that do help the ambiance a lot.

Seriously - the old ZOE’s interior is appalling from both a design and quality standpoint, so this new one is a much needed improvement. It now looks as good as any other Renault interior (with all that entails) and time spent in this car should be more enjoyable than before (or at least considerably less repulsive).

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What exactly have they changed to bring about this interior revolution? Well, the dashboard is all new, the door panels are all new, the center console is all new, the seats are all new and materials overall have been given a noticeable lift. The drive selector is also new (and very futuristic looking) and the car now comes with an electric parking brake as standard.

The infotainment is displayed on a portrait-style screen that measures a very respectable 9.3 inches. However, the screen in the instrument cluster is even bigger, measuring 10 inches. Those who want to run their phone’s operating system on the center display can do thanks to Android Auto and Apple Car play and you can even specify wireless charing as an option.

Renault has also upped the safety of the 2020 ZOE EV and it now comes with plenty of aids. Autonomous emergency braking, auto-dimming high beams, blind spot monitoring and warning, lane keep assist, Auto-Hold to make hill starts a doddle, traffic light recognition, self-parking and front and rear parking sensors.

2020 Renault ZOE power and range

2020 Renault ZOE EV has sharper looks, more range and two motor options
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For the first time ever, Renault is offering the ZOE with a choice of two motors: one, it calls R110, is the same as on the outgoing car and it makes 108 horsepower (110 PS) and 225 Nm (165 pound-feet) and the other, called R135, is a new, more powerful unit that makes 134 horsepower (136 PS) and 245 Nm (180 pound-feet) of torque.

2019 Renault ZOE Powertrain Specs
ZOE R110 ZOE R135
Power 108 horsepower (80 kW) 134 horsepower (100 kW)
Torque 225 Nm (165 pound-feet) 245 Nm (180 pound-feet)
Battery pack 52 kWh 52 kWh
Range 242 miles 242 miles

Equipped with the R135, Renault says the ZOE can sprint from naught to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 10 seconds flat and on to a top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph). The manufacturer also mentions that this more powerful motor has no trouble propelling the car from 80 to 120 km/h (50 to 75 mph) in 7.1 seconds, which is over 2 seconds faster than what the R110 can manage.

The 2020 ZOE has a pretty big battery pack for such a small car. It is exactly the same size as the one in the older ZOE, but it now has 52 kWh capacity and it has a range of 389 km (242 miles) according to the new WLTP guidelines.

Renault’s accompanying press blurb for the 2020 ZOE also mentions a new driving mode that relies on heavy brake regeneration to provide a one-pedal driving experience. The automaker calls it “B mode” and it says the mode is excellent for use in slow moving stop-start traffic in the city, and not so much out on more open roads, where the traditional “D mode” is best suited.

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