The funky all-electric Honda e supermini is packed with technology, but does it drive as good as it looks?Verdict4A glut of new city cars with dinky dimensions and tiny running costs is to set arrive in 2020 and the Honda e is a worthy newcomer. It stands apart from its rivals thanks to its cute styling and comfortable cabin, while the Honda has charm by the bucket load. You do have to pay for the privilege, though, and for some the relatively small range will be hard to stomach because some of those same rivals can go further for less cash.
If the thought of switching from petrol power to electric has crossed your mind, then 2020 could be the year to do it. Around two dozen new cars powered purely by electricity will be arriving in the next 12 months, and the cutest will be the Honda e.
This funky new offering has the potential to really stand out in a sea of small EVs like the MINI Electric, Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e. But with prices starting at £26,000 and a range of as little as 125 miles, is the Honda e an expensive piece of jewellery or a compelling small electric car?
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Its styling will be an advantage because in a world of bloated SUVs, the e looks refreshingly small – cool, classless and desirable in an Apple iPhone kind of way.
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Step inside and the interior is refreshingly different too. Wood trim stretches across the entire dashboard, and above it sit three TFT screens, giving a look not unlike a John Lewis TV cabinet. The system operates like a smartphone, with icons for various features, pinch-and-zoom functionality and the ability to switch information between screens.
Sadly, the more time you spend playing with the infotainment, the more some annoying foibles become apparent. The sat-nav can’t stretch across both screens, for example, and its general look and feel are a little too TomTom-like. Plus, while the ability to show an aquarium is supposed to be fun, it just shouts ‘Windows 95 screensaver’.
Overall, though, the cabin is a nice place to be. The materials used are mostly of high quality, the seats are comfy and supportive, there’s some decent storage and, thanks to a flat floor, it feels roomy up front.
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Space in the back is a little tight but there’s more room than in an e-208, and the Honda e has five doors unlike the MINI. A desperately small boot (171 litres with the seats up) is a major downside.
Prices kick off at £26,160 (£299 a month on a PCP deal) after the Government grant for the entry-level model, which comes with 16-inch alloys and a 134bhp electric motor with a range of 137 miles. This shrinks to 125 miles if you step up to a 152bhp model with 17-inch wheels, mind.
Charging is via a CCS or Type 2 port under the panel on the bonnet. Plug into a 100kW rapid charger and a zero-to-80 per cent top-up takes 30 minutes, while a 7.4kW home wallbox charge takes a little over four hours.
Does the Honda e drive as good as it looks? Yes. It feels most at home in built-up areas, as you’d expect, with those dinky dimensions making it very manoeuvrable.
The amazingly tight turning circle (4.3 metres – smaller than a London cab’s) makes parking a doddle and, with a very healthy 315Nm from the electric motor, racing away from traffic lights and zipping through dense traffic become a fun new game.
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Head into the countryside and the e still manages to acquit itself very well. The ride is plush and, on undulating roads, it isn’t lumpy or unsettled. That wheel-at-each-corner stance makes the car feel quite stable at high speeds, and the steering has a pleasing amount of feel through it.
There isn’t quite enough power for some enthusiastic driving but at least you can feel the car being pushed out of corners rather than being pulled like in the e-208.
The only real niggle with the driving experience is the unusually high number of brake-regeneration modes. Paddles on the back of the steering wheel adjust four mild levels offered in Normal or Sport modes. However the driver can also choose a ‘single-pedal’ setting that opens up a further three modes. This seems like overkill to us, and we’d expect most owners to never fiddle with the settings.
- Model: Honda e Advance
- Price: £28,660 (after grant)
- Engine: 35.5kWh battery, single motor
- Power/torque: 152bhp/315Nm
- Transmission: Single-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
- 0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
- Top speed: 90mph
- Range: 125 miles (WLTP)
- CO2: 0g/km
- On sale: Now
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