Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • High driving position
  • Simple, ergonomic controls
  • 2020 cars are much nicer

The first thing that strikes you about sitting behind the wheel of the Zoe is how high the driving position is. In some ways this is beneficial because it gives you a good view of the road ahead.

After 2019, the Renault Zoe’s interior was given a much needed overhaul to bring it up to date with rivals and also to ensure it was as futuristic and environmentally conscious as its electric drivetrain.

As such, parts of the dashboard, doors and centre console (and seats in top grade cars) have been trimmed in a material made from recycled seat belts and bottles, and there’s a total of 22.5kg of recycled polymer parts in and around the cabin. It's not only on-trend and environmentally kinder, it feels much higher quality overall than the previous generation.

Renault Zoe (2020) interior

A 10.0-inch screen serves as the dials and can be configured to show media or sat-nav info between a speedometer and efficiency readout. In front, sits a new steering wheel with buttons for the cruise control, which were previously placed awkwardly low down on the centre console. Lane keeping assist is available, but the button to disable it is in the less obvious group on the right of the dashboard.

Helping ergonomic matters further there's a standard electronic parking brake and electronic shifter – good for ease of use and also for freeing up space for two cup holders and an optional wireless phone charger.

The standard infotainment screen measures 7.0-inches and comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. Sat-nav is added to mid-grade cars.

Moving up to the top trim unlocks a 9.3-inch portrait screen, which is bright and very clear to read, with connectivity to the MY Renault app. This can be used to manage your charge, plan a trip or find charging points using a third-party aggregator, all from your phone.

Renault's quirky paddle-style audio remote has survived through all these iterations, leaving more space on the steering wheel for controls and instant familiarity for loyal owners. It takes a bit of getting used to if you've never encountered one.

Pre-2019 cars

A less modern looking dash displayed information such as vehicle speed and charge remaining. You could select several different graphics schemes and it would also show you if you were in Eco mode or not.

The 7.0-inch touchscreen sat-nav system in the centre of the dash was very easy to operate – it was clear and simple but became quite dated before the car’s update in 2019.

Other controls were easy to operate too; there was a stereo stalk behind the steering wheel and the air conditioning switchgear was large enough to easily operate.

In terms of interior build quality the pre-2019 Zoe felt very futuristic, but while there was a range of different plastics, some of them felt a bit cheap. The current model is significantly better.

Comfort

  • Comfy seats set high up
  • Could do with more bolstering
  • Ride quality is best on low-speed models

Comfort levels are fairly high in the Renault Zoe. The front seats are supportive and comfortable - the side bolstering does its best to hold you in place through enthusiastic cornering, but falls a bit short of pinning you in when tackling multiple bends.

There's a surprising lack of adjustment for the front seats, too. Even the highest-specification Zoe lacks tilt, lumbar support and even height; just basic fore-aft and backrest. That would be endearing in a bare-bones supermini, but for a car that's priced against premium, if conventional, hatchbacks it's more than just a lack of showroom appeal.

The unusual shape of the battery pack means the rear seats are higher than those up front, and the floor is higher than the sills too. There's no footwell to add space below the front seats. Given the Zoe's dimensions are closer to a Clio than a Megane, it's acceptable, ideally suited to chlld seats, but taller passengers will find head- and leg-room surprisingly cramped.

As you'd expect from an electric car, it’s a very quiet place to be. There’s only the slightest of whispers from the electric motor, while wind and road noise simply aren’t an issue, certainly around town. On the motorway the Zoe's road and wind noise is muted, putting some expensive electric rivals to shame, but it's not a comfortable car to drive for long periods.

Refinement in earlier models is good, but the 2019 update brought more soundproofing to areas like the doors and windshield. As such the Zoe is super quiet around town but does eventually start to rustle at faster speeds. A Winter Pack with heated seats and steering wheel is also an option.

Ride quality on the 2019 models depends on the version you choose. The entry level Zoe is impressive, but the 16-inch wheels do make a difference. It feels like the GT-Line has firmer suspension too, ensuring speedbumps are taken with caution and potholes announce their presence against the eerie silence.

The Zoe's electric song to warn pedestrians fades over 20mph, letting wind and road-noise take over, and there's plenty of noise on rough roads. The GT-Line may be taking GT too seriously, as other models in the range are reportedly very comfortable and smooth; another strong argument for going for the more affordable models.