Honda E: An Exceptional Electric Car?

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The Honda e – key figures:

  • UK release date: June 2020
  • Price: £29,660 (£26,160 after £3,500 government plug-in grant)
  • Range (fully charged): 125 miles
  • Charge time (0->125 miles): 5h45m (using 7.4kW 1-phase 32A charger)
  • Fast charge time (13->100 miles): 31m (using 100kW DC CCS charger)

For what seems like an eternity waiting for Honda to enter the electric vehicle (EV) market, it’s finally happened. Simply named the ‘Honda e’, there’s nothing at all simple about its onboard technology, striking looks and exciting engineering.

That last point is typical of the Japanese brand, but might the other two make it the ultimate electric car? Read on to decide.

Design

We have to start with this debut EV’s design, both inside and out.

It’s uncharacteristically futuristic, even by the latest top-spec CR-V and Civic standards, which have vastly improved over the years to include better infotainment systems. More specifically, Honda Connect which is fed through a lush 7” touchscreen and comes with smartphone integration and an 11-speaker audio system which is booming.

Exterior

Honda e design

Fast forward five years from the Civic and HR-V’s latest generations and you’ve got some serious improvements in this all-electric offering – even though Honda has said it’s modelled its latest car from the 1970’s Civic.

You can see it in the shape, with the same short overhangs and aerodynamically integrated features.

The only difference is that the Honda e does it in a way more advanced, futuristic manner. A single panel holds the front headlights (which look like Wall-E’s eyes), radar sensors and multi-view camera. The same goes for the back.

Honda e design rear

Two trims are available from the off – an entry-level version which is rather anticlimactically not given its own name, and a top-spec ‘Advanced’ trim. Both get alloy wheels, which are 16” as standard, increasing to 17” on the Advanced. There’s even dust covers on the tyres which are designed to keep the car cleaner for longer.

With 50:50 weight distribution and a low centre of gravity, the Honda e features great aerodynamics. This is accentuated by the integrated design, making it infectiously fun to drive, just like its looks suggest.

Interior

Honda e interior

A living room like interior in the Honda e has been purpose-built to make it more airy and spacious.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s Melange fabric covering the seats, which is colour contrasted on the backs of the seats, where a darker shade of grey appearing further up top. It looks smart and professional.

There’s no centre console and back seats aren’t individual, forming almost a bench-like arrangement that flows into one space. Legroom is up there with the best in the supermini category too.

Most striking of all is the wide full-screen instrument panel and infotainment system. First of all it’s dominated by two 6” LCD touchscreens, propped up on a dashboard coated in wood-effect trim. On the left you can choose to display your smartphone’s display, satnav, or safety configuration. This frees up the one on the right to show a 3D image of the car and the remaining range on the car.

Not everything is digital though. You’ll be glad to know that conventional climate controls sit below this tech overload, which is a sensible design choice by the Japanese manufacturer. It’s much less fiddly than having the temperature settings housed in the infotainment screen.

Performance

Honda e performance – key figures:

  • Electric motor: rear-placed, 134bhp (152bhp for Advanced trim)
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 90mph
  • Torque: 232lb ft of torque
  • Turning circle: 4.3 metres
Honda e performance

Electric vehicles are becoming renowned for their capacity to accelerate quickly when you press the single pedal. The Honda e is no different, either. Despite its cute looks, you’ll find yourself having a good laugh zipping around in the car.

There are two selectable driving modes – ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’. The latter, according to Honda, increases the responsiveness of steering and throttle, as well as adjusting the suspension for more intuitive handling around corners. Normal mode is intended for what it suggests, which is normal day-to-day driving, whether that’s commuting to work or popping to the shops at weekend.

Rear wheels on the e are driven by a powerful motor which makes for a more engaging drive under high acceleration. The car also sits on a four-wheel independent suspension, giving it a much more refined drive. This is because each wheel is able to move vertically on its own on both axles – a handy feature which cushions speed bumps and crevices in the road.

Features

Both the Honda e and Honda e Advanced feature the following as standard:

  • Leather steering wheel
  • Smart entry and start
  • Panoramic ‘sky roof’
  • Pop-out door handles and cameras for door mirrors
  • Rear privacy glass
  • Honda Sensing – includes lane keep assist, cross traffic monitor with blind spot information, adaptive cruise control with low speed following, road departure mitigation and traffic sign recognition
  • My Honda+ smartphone app – lets you remotely control car features such as pre-heating, journey planning on the satnav and charging process initiation
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence) Human Interface infotainment system with intelligent voice control which recognises your voice more over time for greater accuracy

For an extra £2,500 you can upgrade to the Advanced trim, which will get you:

  • 17″ alloy wheels
  • Parking assist programme (known as ‘Honda pilot’)
  • An upgraded sound system
  • Heated front seats and steering wheel
  • More powerful 152bhp electric motor

Is it practical?

Honda e practicality

Although it’s shorter than the Honda Jazz (which is in fact a surprisingly practical car), the e does a great job of being deceptively big inside.

Up top, the uncluttered dashboard and absence of a centre console means there’s a good amount of space for legroom and shoulder room. As far as storage is concerned here, there’s a neat divider which can be adjusted to accommodate different size items. The glovebox and door bins are also pretty sizeable too, so you shouldn’t struggle to find places to store your loose bits and bobs.

The spaces in the back of the Honda e are great for head space due to the vehicle’s high-rising roofline. Moreover, the back bench sits quite far back in the body of the vehicle, allowing for good space for adults to stretch their legs out.

As far as boot space is concerned, you’ll get a 171-litre bay in the back of the e, which is considerable for what is ultimately a city car. It will be enough for a couple of suitcases and certainly your weekly shop at the end of the week.

Should I buy one?

The equipment and styling of the Honda e definitely give it mass market appeal. Its range and top speed may not be the best, but it still holds its own when doing what it’s designed for, which is mostly everyday commutes.

With its intuitive drive delivered from the motor, aerodynamic-focused design and weight distribution, there’s no wonder that orders have reached the tens of thousands.

However, you’re probably best hanging fire until full spec of similar competitors such as the Volkswagen ID.3 are released. For starters, it’s already been revealed that it will be bigger, cheaper and have a longer range. So, before you go spending your hard-earned money, be sure to check out our list of best upcoming cars this year.

You can also find out more about VW’s upcoming all-electric ID. fleet here.

Compare lease deals on the all-new Honda e to see how much you could save each month on the entry-level and Advance trims.