At 136 ins. (345 cm) in overall length, it is about the size of the Twingo, which is scheduled to be replaced in 2007.
The Zoe is so loaded with innovative gimmicks that it can hardly be considered a clear hint of a future Twingo. But Patrick LeQuement, vice-president-design, says the combination of rounded forms and angular lines, also seen in the Vel Satis and Megane, likely will continue in the Clio and Twingo.
A plexiglass roof embedded with tiny light-emitting diodes gives Zoe passengers a starry night even when driving through tunnels. The rear parcel cover over the cargo area is a thick plastic web rather than pressed-board.
The thin seats are a continuingexperiment, foreshadowing some real changes, says LeQuement. “All the seat suppliers are working on thin seats.”
The Zoe features a flat floor, front bench seat, an airy (and impossible to clean) multi-layer dashboard and asymmetrical doors. The passenger side door is longer than the driver’s side and opens in a double-jointed sliding fashion reminiscent of the trouble-ridden door on the short-lived Avantime.
The roof panels rise when doors are open, improving ingress and egress, and the rear hatch opens in two ways from a remote button, facilitating loading.
To make room in the Zoe for tcargo, Renault removed the rear seat behind the driver, making the car a 3-seater. It is Renault’s fourth 3-seat small car, notes LeQuement, adding, “We think there is really room for a 3-seater.”
The average car carries 1.4 people, he says, “so if the world was reasonable, the market would be dominated by 2-seaters, but it isn’t. We wonder if there is a psychological barrier that a 3-seater will pass.”
Previously, Renault has shown the 3-seat Zo (1998), Argos (1994) and Wind (2004). Volvo’s 3-seat 3CC concept car shown last fall at the Bibendum Challenge in China also is on display here.
A probable genuine part of the Zoe is its 1.2L, 4-cyl. turbocharged gasoline engine making 100 hp and 107 lbs.-ft. (145 Nm) of torque, tied to a robotized 5-speed manual transmission. Renault likely will offer the engine in future Twingo and Clio cars.