The new Honda e
By Bill McCarthy
Honda’s first fully electric vehicle is really in your face. It is a car that never failed to attract attention, particularly in its lemon and black combo livery, and looking almost the same at the back as it does at the front with its circular lights and lack of a grille.
The charging-point port is integrated into the bonnet via a glass lid and it has no door mirrors. Instead these have been replaced with small cameras which display on two six-inch screens on each side of the dash, and virtually eliminate those dangerous ‘blind spots.’
A gimmick? No, it is a much more serious car than that, although the sheer minimalist funkiness is bound to attract many buyers looking for something a bit different.
It is available in two grades, the Honda e and Honda e Advance – both models provide a comprehensive standard specification, including a classy panoramic roof, while the Advance driven here offers a choice of 16 or 17-inch alloy wheels, and increased motor output.
Built new from the ground up, it does offer plenty for a city car and with its compact size, and official range of between 125 and 147 miles, although that was a figure that I got nowhere near with a full charge, with the meter showing around 108 miles.
Early electric cars would have loved that range, but these days in excess of 200 miles is commonly achievable. Having said that it is not too shabby, given the average daily commute is around 25 miles.
The unusual rear-wheel-drive set up and powerful electric motor delivers a pleasing drive and excellent performance, while the independent suspension for each wheel and 50:50 weight distribution gives good manoeuvrability, with a London cab-like turning circle.
Like many electric cars, rapid-charging is available, with up to an 80 per cent charge delivered in 30 minutes, while home charging can be achieved in around four hours.
The interior is quirky and minimalist, but in some way like a multiplex, with five screens across the width of the car. The two outer ones are effectively the door mirrors which sit alongside a central TFT monitor and pair of screens to monitor, connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, navigation and infotainment functions. The system allows key information to be relayed to the driver, while additional information can be controlled by the front seat passenger.
In addition to Bluetooth connectivity, multiple connection inputs are provided beneath the centre console for easy charging and connection of electrical devices. This includes HDMI, 12V power and even a three-pin socket.
Stowage space is good in the airy cabin, with multiple storage pockets and cup holders, together with a reasonable space in the boot, which can be increased by folding the rear seats. Maximum capacity of 171 litres with the rear seats up. Those seats conveniently fold flat to the same level as the boot floor to allow a maximum load capacity of 861 litres.
On the road the car is very lively with typical electric car instant acceleration, great for getting out of tight spots and sharp handling.
There are two drive modes accessed via a rocker switch on the central console, normal and sport, for that extra pace. A steering wheel paddle-activated deceleration mode selector can configure the single-pedal braking characteristics to adjust the strength of deceleration.
Whichever mode, it is an enjoyable drive, plenty of grunt and controllable deceleration, while remaining stable on corners.
Safety kit is impressive with a comprehensive range of measures including a full set of airbags, stability programme and assisted braking. In addition Honda’s SENSING technologies include collision mitigation and throttle control, which prevents sudden acceleration in either reverse or drive upon starting the car when there is an obstacle in the way.
Honda’s first full EV, may look a bit odd, but there is no doubt it has bags of appeal and even impresses five-year-olds.
Honda e Advance
Mechanical: 113kW (154ps) electric motor driving rear wheels via auto transmission
Max Speed: 100mph
0-62mph: 8 seconds
Combined MPG (range): 137 miles
C02 emissions: 0g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/90,000 miles