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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
2:17 AM 27th July 2020

Electric Dreams - Honda e First Drive

The new Honda e has been a while in the making. First seen as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2019, the showroom-ready model was unveiled last September at Frankfurt and much to everyone’s delight it had remained unchanged and was bristling with cool features. It attracted much interest from the world’s press.

What is it?

The Honda e is being positioned as an urban-commuter car and its importance cannot be underestimated, kicking off as it does Honda’s electrification journey. The Japanese company has pledged to have electrified all its car sales by 2025.

There is no doubting the Honda e’s cutesy looks and judging by the attention the car attracted on the launch drive, many will buy on looks alone. Of course, there is so much more to describe, not least the minimalist interior, brimming with all the latest cool tech and offering a relaxed and comfortable environment. There’s room for four adults too, surprising in one so compact.

Fast Facts

Honda e Advanced
Price £29,160 (after £3,000 government grant)
Range starts at £26,660
Single electric motor producing 113 kW
Battery capacity 35.5kWh
Charging time 0-100% 3h 30m
0-62mph in 8 seconds
Range 125 miles (WLTP)

How does it drive?

The short answer is very well! Rear-wheel drive, a turning circle to rival a London taxi, coupled with eager electric acceleration, all make zipping through crowded streets a doddle. And let us not forget the compact dimensions which should ensure the ‘e’ will fit into the tightest parking spots. Press a button, and it will also park itself, with the driver solely in charge of the brake pedal.

The low centre of gravity and weight of the battery ensures a distinct lack of pitch and roll and the ride comfort is impressive too.

Our test route included a little motorway and A-road cruising and the electric Honda felt quite at home in all situations. Only a little road noise intruded at higher speeds.

Range-anxiety remains a worry for the EV novice and after two and half hours of driving, and some 60 miles covered, my car’s range had dropped from an indicated 99 miles to 52, with 45% of the battery’s charge remaining.

Honda’s press notes suggest that the average commute in the UK is around 23 miles, so the ‘e’ may well be ideal. Installing a larger battery would have created weight and packaging issues. I suspect most buyers will own another car for longer journeys.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely! Though of course there are caveats. Having home charging is the key here as the UK’s woeful charging infrastructure still has some way to go. The price is a little on the bullish side but already Honda is already offering some attractive PCP deals:

OTR Price £29,160
23% deposit
37 monthly payments of £349
APR 5.9%
Being a Honda, you can be reassured of engineering excellence and the build quality is top drawer, so no worries there.

It is a safe car too, with a huge array of crash prevention features.

The tech

Where to start? Probably the most interesting feature are the video cameras which replace the side mirrors. They are adjustable and easy to use. Less wind noise too. The view is displayed in two dashboard end screens.

The matt wood dash also incorporates a TFT screen directly in front of the driver, providing the usual information and customizable to suit. The rest of the dash houses two 12-inch touchscreens, capable of displaying a bewildering array of information, from the satellite navigation to a host of apps.

A passenger can operate the screens and then swap the contents to move essential information nearer to the driver.

Uttering the words ‘Okay, Honda’ will allow access to the car’s many functions without taking hands off the wheel. It seemed to understand my dulcet tones.

The rivals

An electric version of the now familiar MINI is about to hit the showrooms. With a range of 145 miles, urban travel is clearly the intention. Likely to possess the go kart like handling of its ICE stablemates, keen drivers are likely to find plenty to delight. Prices will start at £24,900 after the usual grants.

Renault’s Zoe has been around for some time and it now boasts a much-improved range. Up to 245 miles is possible according to the French manufacturer. Prices start at £26,495. A sensible option but without the wow factor of the Honda e.

Verdict

Although aimed at the urban dweller, the new Honda e is capable of travelling further afield. It boasts a comfortable interior, excellent driving characteristics and is likely to bring a smile to the face of not only the lucky buyer, but also those who witness it flash silently by.

Undoubtedly a premium product, there are no shortage of buyers willing to pay for such automotive niceties and I am sure this will be the urban car to be seen in for quite some time.

And as the beginning of Honda’s all-electric journey, it gives clear intent of the company’s direction and it is one I am very happy to travel in. Good job.