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New Renault Zoe: the small EV's third chapter

Published: 17 June 2019

► Third-gen Zoe
► Same platform, new battery
► 242 mile range 

After being on sale since 2012, Renault unveils the third chapter in the Zoe’s lifeline with a facelifted model for 2019. Seven years is long enough to see out a car’s whole life cycle - it’s already outlived the outgoing 2013-2019 Clio for a start - but the Zoe’s platform is here to stay.

See, while some models will have deceased after this number of years, it’s a case of continuous improvement for this small electric car - when sales continue to grow year on year, why bother change it? 

Renault Zoe

Renault claims that plenty of new customers continue to buy the Zoe, alongside those existing ones who swap over their old one to keep up with the latest battery tech. How ‘green’ that latter ethos is though, is up to you…

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Still, there's a redesigned face and LED lights all-round, but while the latest 2019 Zoe bears roughly the same body shape and platform, it’s what’s underneath that makes all the difference.

What’s new?

Let’s start with the hardware. Proof that BEV technology is constantly improving, the battery capacity in the Renault Zoe is now more than double what the original 22kWh model had back in 2012. 

Renault Zoe

Despite being the same physical size, the latest battery pack is upgraded to 52kWh – taking the official electric range up to 242 miles in WLTP conditions.

Named Z.E.50, this equates to a 25% increase over the outgoing Z.E 40 model and its 41kWh pack, which claimed 186 miles. The more powerful battery is 25kg heavier than before, but, while details on suspension settings are yet to be confirmed, the brakes should reign that performance all in – you now get discs front and rear as standard. 

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While battery range is up, the range of electric motors are treated to an upgrade too. The R110 model introduced in the Zoe’s last update dramatically improved the Zoe’s mid-range performance, thanks to its 80kW motor developing 107hp and 225Nm of torque. 

Renault Zoe

This continues to be offered and now serves as the entry-level motor in the range, while a 100kW motor available, named R135, now serves as the flagship option.

Torque is up, at 245Nm, and while power is yet to be announced, the 0-62mph will drop below 10 seconds. Mid-range performance will see a noticeable jump too, with 50-75mph taking 7.1 seconds; a drop of 2.2 seconds over R110.

New ways to charge

The other big change relates to the socket behind the front diamond badge. What used to be an AC charge socket hidden behind here is now a CCS combo plug, allowing for both AC or DC charging. The AC socket allows the battery to recharge up to 22kW of power, while the DC socket can charge up to 50kW.

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Charge times using a 7kW wallbox will take 9 hours and 25 minutes from 0 to 100% capacity, while Renault estimates a 22kW charger will top up the Zoe’s battery with approximately 78 miles of range within an hour.Renault Zoe

The brawnier 50kW DC terminals on motorway stations could roughly see 93 miles of range added after a 30 minute charge.

I want to brake free: the Zoe’s B mode 

A new driving mode has been introduced on the 2019 Renault Zoe and can be accessed via the gearlever. Nudge the lever from D to B mode and this introduces the regenerative braking function, allowing the car to harness back some battery charge in heavy city traffic with frequent stop-start manoeuvres. We’ve seen this on the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf before and effectively allows you to drive the entire time with just the accelerator pedal.

Inside the 2019 Zoe: interior with a hint of Clio

The other most notable change in the 2019 Zoe will be seen when you climb inside. There’s a redesigned dashboard in here and the Zoe certainly looks and feels more premium than before.

There’s a hint of the new Clio in terms of design and structure, with a higher level of perceived quality. You’ll find a new steering wheel, gear shifter, electronic parking brake, and two rear USB ports as standard, while textile dash inserts made from 100% recycled material and wireless charging can be found on the options list.

The driver’s display is now a decent 10-inch sized screen, unlike the old model’s narrow, rectangular version and can now also show sat-nav information. The touchscreen media display on the centre console is also vastly improved, with a 9.3-inch portrait display that includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

When can I get one?

The Zoe will be on sale in the Autumn. No prices have been announced, but Renault claim the Zoe will ‘remain affordable’.

Specs are to be confirmed but there will be three new colours available, from the Celadon Blue seen here in the pictures, to Flame Red and Quartz White; with a total of nine shades available altogether.

The wheels have also been redesigned, ranging from 15- to 17-inch in size; the largest being diamond cut in finish.

Check back with CAR as more details unfold.

By Lawrence Cheung

Bauer Automotive's senior staff writer; hot hatch hoarder, road trip hunter