Renault's electric runabout has been on the market since 2012 – with a big update in 2016 – so time has come for the Zoe to make the transition to a thoroughly revised version. Judging solely by the exterior styling, some would be tempted to say it's more of the same, but in reality, the zero-emissions city car has gone through quite a few changes to better rival new competition coming from the Peugeot e-208 and the Opel Corsa-e.
Growing from a 22-kWh battery pack of the original version to a 41-kWh setup of the Zoe Z.E. 40 launched a couple of years ago, the Zoe is now getting an even larger 52-kWh pack. Known as the Zoe Z.E. 50, the pint-sized EV can travel for as much as 390 kilometers (242 miles) on a single charge based on the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), which is 20 percent more than before.
To "fill up" the battery pack, the charging socket remains hidden behind the Renault logo on the front grille where you'll find both the type-2 socket for AC charging and the two-pin connector for DC charging for up to 50 kW. A full recharge takes 9 hours and 25 minutes from a 7kW wallbox or 8 hours if you estimate around 306 kilometers (190 miles) of charge will be enough for your next trip.
In just one hour, the Zoe can be charged from a 22kW roadside charger to provide 126 kilometers (78 miles) of range. For the fastest way to charge the battery, the 50kW DC will replenish the battery for approximately 145 kilometers (90 miles) of range in only half an hour.
It gets better as the 2020 Renault Zoe can be specified with a new 134-horsepower electric motor producing an instant torque of 181 pound-feet (245 Newton-meters). The electric punch will enable the subcompact hatchback reach 62 mph (100 kph) from a standstill in less than 10 seconds and reach a top speed of 87 mph (140 kph), which should be more than enough for this type of car.
Perhaps more relevant in real-world driving is the time it needs to get from 50 to 75 mph (80 to 121 kph) – only 7.7 seconds. That's actually 2.2 seconds quicker than the Zoe fitted with the lesser 107-hp, 162 lb-ft (220 Nm) engine, which buyers will still be able to order.
Both now come along with a "B mode" function that enhances the regenerative braking effect to basically enable one-pedal operation as the car decelerates "significantly faster" than before as soon as the driver releases the accelerator pedal.
As far as the design is concerned, the exterior has taken the evolutionary route by improving upon the original design. Tweaks include a reshaped hood, wider front bumper with chrome inserts in the grille and the LED fog lights surrounds, along with a big diamond logo, and updated full-LED headlights as standard equipment.
At the back, the LED taillights are larger than before to create a greater visual impact and have new graphics lending the Zoe a fresh look. Rounding off the changes are the LED turn signals in the side mirror caps, along with new designs for the alloy wheels ranging in size from 15 to 17 inches, with all featuring disc brakes front and rear regardless of the version you go for. There are also three new metallic paints (Quartz White, Flame Red, Celadon Blue) for a total of nine shades.
Significant changes have occurred inside the cabin where the Zoe now has better soft-touch plastics and a new 10-inch driver's display standard across the range. The dashboard design takes after the all-new Clio supermini and hosts a large 9.3.-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. LED ambient lighting is implemented even in the base version, as are the new electronic gear selector, driving mode selector, and the electronic parking brake to free up space on the center console now used by two cupholders and a wireless charging pad for smartphones. Speaking of which, mobile devices can be charged from the back as well since rear seat occupants now have access to a pair of USB sockets.
Labeled by Renault as the third-gen model after the 2012 original and the 2016 second-gen Z.E. 40, the massively improved Zoe will be going on sale in Europe this fall.