The Honda e burst onto the electric vehicle scene back in the summer of 2020, and proved that concept car style does translate to the road. Its ‘face’ recalls cars from the 1970s and 1980s, with twin single headlamps flanking either end of a gloss black ‘grille’ panel. Its dinky dimensions and upright silhouette also reference cars from years gone by.
Inside, however, the e is bang up to date. A pair of 12.3-inch LCD touchscreens span the width of the dashboard, lending the car a futuristic feel, and a wood-effect ‘shelf’ recalls the interior of the original 1970s Honda Civic. Airy, and trimmed with nice quality materials, the e’s cabin is fun, relaxing, and very comfortable to boot. Speaking of the boot, you need to be selective with what you pack, as at 171 litres with the rear seats in place, it’s not the most capacious. But this is a city car, and not one you’d choose for a family holiday.
Which is just as well. With an official range of 131 miles – our car has the larger 17-inch alloy wheels which knocks six miles off the 16-inch-wheeled model’s range – the e would need a few charging stops for a break away. To be fair, the comparable MINI Electric has 140 to 145 miles of range, and the smaller-battery Fiat 500 Electric that has just been discontinued has 118. Honda claims the range will suit most drivers who will use the car around town.
That’s largely been our initial experience. For local journeys, I’ve only charged the car once a week. Its small footprint means scooting around urban areas is very easy, and with a London cab-rivalling turning circle of 4.6 metres, the e can dart into gaps with little effort. With 232lb ft of instant torque, the little Honda’s pace keeps you on your toes. One big plus is its one pedal driving switch, which really is just that, very noticeably ramping up the regenerative braking so you can stop at a junction without needing to touch the brake pedal. It’s a very useful function to have, and complements the other levels of regenerative braking, manually adjusted with paddles behind the steering wheel.
Other useful features of the e are its door-mounted rear view camera pods. A novelty in the small EV class – and other car classes, too; only selected Audi e-tron models have them as standard – they display onto a pair of six-inch screens at either end of the dashboard and are internally-adjustable just like conventional door mirrors. Externally, they only protrude as far as the wheel arches, both to the benefit of keeping the car’s width to a minimum and helping efficiency through improved airflow. A gimmick? We don’t think so. The screens are sharp and clear, and you get used to averting your gaze inside the car very quickly. The only downsides are the slightly grainy pictures at night, and the ‘bleaching’ out when you have the sun behind you.
The e’s relatively wide 205/45/ZR17 tyres at the front and 225/45/ZR17 at the rear look good and aid the car’s agility, but aren’t necessarily the best for efficiency. They can be noisy, too, creating road rumble, but I’d still choose them because of their contribution to the car’s handling. Sadly I’ve already had to have one replaced. On a longer journey – more of which next time – I turned too early onto what I thought was a dropped kerb, dinging the wheel, also tearing the tyre slightly. However, the journey home was fine, but Honda replaced both the wheel and tyre for safety reasons. Not my finest moment!
Overall, though, the little Honda has made a good first impression. The one criticism which continually comes up is the range versus price comparison. There’s no doubting the cute Honda isn’t cheap, particularly for the distance it travels on a single charge, but we’re looking forward to finding out if can escape the confines of the city and prove its value on longer trips, too.
Date arrived 4th May 2022
CO2 emissions 0g/km Range 131 miles