Schön! test drives the e, Honda’s much anticipated, award winning, next generation electric vehicle.
First things first. The Honda e is cute. Really cute. So cute, in fact, that it was love at first sight and we want one.
On a more practical note, Honda believes that environmental issues such as climate change, coupled with advances in artificial intelligence, will totally transform car manufacture by 2030. The petite e is a big step in the right direction: an all-electric car packed with forward thinking technology.
But back to the cuteness. Honda describes the car’s exterior as having “distinctive, contemporary design with clean lines and smooth surfaces”. The lack of side mirrors (more on that later), flush door handles and compact battery result in a sleek silhouette but, with its big round head and taillights, there’s something pleasingly retro about it too.
Step inside and it feels like you have entered the Tardis: while it won’t further ambitions to time travel, the interior is surprisingly spacious for a compact car. The large windows, panoramic sunroof and walk-through flat floor add to the open feel.
The interior is also where the e really wins on the style stakes. Honda designed it to resemble a rather chic living room. Tweedy-textured, cushy sofa-like seats, a leather steering wheel and flat dashboard with wood trim make this car feel truly premium, as well as a cocoon from the outside commotion.
Talking of the dashboard, this consists of a rather impressive door-to-door digital display with five high resolution screens, including two 12.3inch LCD touchscreens, which allow both the driver and the passenger to access a range of Apps and services. Swipe controls enable you to swap screens so that the passenger can take control of stuff like Sat Nav and playlists while you focus on driving.
Driving the Honda e is a pretty pleasurable experience. The independent rear suspension and 50/50 weight distribution make for a smooth ride and a Single Pedal Control further simplifies matters, should you choose to use it. There is also a Sport Mode with faster acceleration but, in case you get carried away, the e is packed with safety features too, such as traffic sign recognition and monitoring of the car in front.
Although it takes a bit of getting used to, once you have adapted to the Side Camera Mirror System, you can expect not only less drag, but a significantly reduced rear blind spot. Conventional side mirrors are replaced with compact cameras and the view displayed on six-inch screens either side of the dashboard (with normal and wide options). The Honda e is certainly punching above its weight with this technology, previously only seen in larger cars.
The car will recognise its owner via smartphone (with or without Wi-Fi), unlock, get connected and ready to go before you step inside, but you can also programme it to warm up in advance on chilly days. The Parking Pilot not only helps you park but will look for available spaces. That’s another job sorted then.
The e comes in either the standard or the Advance versions. Most of the features described, as well as 16” alloy wheels, come as standard, with the Advance having a choice of 16 or 17” wheels, the Parking Pilot, Centre Camera Mirror System, heated steering wheel and front windscreen, 230V outlet for charging devices, premium audio and safety features like blind spot and cross traffic monitors.
So, what are the downsides? Well, charging is always going to be a concern when buying an electric vehicle. With such a compact battery, the e has a range of up to 137 miles – lower than some of the competition. But, if you’re on the move and in a hurry, Honda’s Power Charger can deliver 80% battery in only 31 minutes. The pop-up LED screen in the charging point will let you know its progress, and, in the meantime, you can still enjoy streaming with HDMI and a cinematic sound system.
So, it is not going to please long-distance drivers, but then it’s really not designed to. This is a car destined for the city. With a 3.4m turning radius, you’ll be turning tight corners, as well as heads, as you navigate narrow streets. For urbanites, the Honda e is a dream to drive, with good looks to boot. We’ve no doubt that this little cutey is going to be the talk of the town.
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Words | Huma Humayun
Images and videos courtesy of Honda