The Japanese managed to create a big buzz around the Honda e, even before it arrived in full production spec. That’s what you get for revealing a concept car like the Urban EV that tugged at the heart strings of car enthusiasts who could finally get excited about an electric city car with genuine character.
The production version was, unsurprisingly, not exactly like the concept, but Honda’s done a great job of retaining a lot of the styling cues and cutesy styling that appealed in the first place. Can you remember the last time a concept car made it to production and looked exactly the same?
First of all, how much will the Honda e ?
While that’s not as offensive as originally expected, it’s still a sizeable chunk of cash over other EV city cars like the VW e-Up, Skoda Citigo-e and Seat Mii Electric (delete as appropriate), and the Renault Zoe. All of these are cheaper and offer longer range, so the Honda is in a slightly tricky position. And with cars like the larger and more practical Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric not costing a huge amount more than the top-spec Honda, it really needs to deliver on those futuristic looks.
The Honda E’s Large Project Lead, told us: ‘We hope that the price is not a determining factor if you’re price-conscious, then maybe an EV in the first place is not the right choice. We are aware that this car is designed for a certain customer profile, but this is our proposal we believe and hope that people opt for the car because of the design or the features.
What’s under the skin?
Something that Honda’s engineers are very proud of. The batteries are mounted as low as possible in the floor pan and this super mini is rear-wheel drive; the latter attribute being rather rare in the current landscape of more conventional EVs (although the BMW i3 is also RWD).
The Honda e’s battery capacity is rated at 35.5kWh, which is paired to a single electric motor available in two power outputs – 134 or 152bhp (both with 232lb/ft of torque). That all combines for a 0-62mph dash in nine seconds for the smaller output, and 8.3 seconds for the more powerful.
What’s the interior like?
Properly swish, and arguably a significant step on in terms of refinement and build quality for the brand.
Honda’s designed the interior to promote a feeling of being in a lounge, and the full-width set of screens and wood trim combine nicely with the light grey seats to create a lovely atmosphere inside. The seats are properly squishy, brown seat belts are more interesting than black ones and neat touches like a two-spoke steering wheel and a cup holder that pulls out via a leather strap keep things interesting.
There’s also a surprisingly airy feel inside, thanks to those materials, big windows, standard-fit sunroof and a large area between the foot wells of the front seats (there’s no transmission tunnel) all combining to good effect. The controls for driving are set high next to you between the front seats, and really simplifies the driving process without feeling stark. Bravo, Honda.
So how does the Honda E drive?
Let’s get the simple stuff out of the way first. For an EV with its batteries under the floor, the Honda E has an entry height that’s like any other city car and a driving position that does without compromise, unlike the Nissan Leaf, for example. There’s even reach and rake adjustment in the steering column (basics sometimes forgotten on other EVs).
Pedal weighting is definitely pretty ‘normal’, too – the throttle isn’t overly light and the brakes provide smooth progression – something many other electric and hybrid cars can learn a thing or two from. The ‘Single Pedal Control’ has a smooth application of the brakes when you lift completely off the throttle but, as with all one-pedal driving usage, it’s best just to use it at lower speeds, as it’s quite quick to decelerate at higher speeds. At least the brake lights come on though.