Is this the city-wise electric car we’ve been waiting for?
Honda has previously said that it plans to provide an entirely electrified range in Europe by 2022 – yes that’s next year. By electrified we mean either hybrid or fully electric. However the only fully electric vehicle from the Japanese car manufacture is the little Honda E introduced last year.
Only the Jazz and CR-V models are offered as hybrids and of course the NSX supercar is a hybrid. Expect to see hybrid versions of new 2022 model Civic and HR-V soon. There are rumours that the next Civic Type R will also go hybrid borrowing elements from the NSX which may mean it gets all-wheel drive.
So back to the Honda E – essentially the first fully electric global car from the marque that gave us CVCC, VTEC and 4-wheel steering. For a company known for pioneering innovation, it’s something of a surprise it’s taken so long, but then the company has been focussed on hydrogen fuel cell technology with the Honda Clarity – sold in the USA.
However Honda has made up for its tardiness with one of the most exciting and appealing new small all-electric cars on sale. And regardless of whether it’s late to the party or not, it remains something of an epochal moment for Honda, one of those occasions when it bookmarks a page in the volumes of automotive history – creating a car that astounds rivals, endears buyers and answers questions that haven’t even been asked yet.
The new E tallies up a raft of innovations and achievements that can leave a car journalist breathless with adoration. Honda has done this before with the likes of the first NSX, the inaugural Legend and of course the first generation Civic from the 1970s.
Talking of which, the E is of course inspired directly by that original Honda Civic both in exterior silhouette and internal detail. It is retro-meets-futuristic done to perfection and it is utterly adorable. So the first reason to like this car is quite simply ‘love at first sight’. Go on admit it, it makes you smile. Driving this on the roads of London, turns more heads than a supercar.
Secondly it’s an electric car that can be driven just like a regular small automatic without any adjustment to your driving style, Alternatively, if you’re up for it and if you want to extend your driving range (more on that in a bit) it will do the one-pedal drive thing that’s so unique to dedicated EVs. Think of it like a remote-controlled toy car, you only have one lever to make it go and stop – that’s how you use the accelerator pedal. Practice this well and soon around town, you’ll barely use the anchors – which is good for reducing brake dust emissions.
Thirdly it’s a practical size for nipping about town and parking anywhere. Fourthly it’s got street-dancer agility and dexterity, not just enough to handle the ducking and dividing of city-slicking, but slotting through gaps, merrily keeping up on the motorways, sprinting with sportscar alacrity away from the lights (0-62mph in 8.3 seconds), and engaging enough dynamics to keep you entertained all the way from home to the mall.
And fifthly – there’s an aquarium in the dashboard! Okay it’s entirely digital, along with the side mirrors (and centre rear-view mirror if you wish) resulting in a full-length digital display that delights, fascinates and keeps you busy for hours, especially if you plug in a games console, which you can.
Downsides? There are a few, more than a few. The range is not great as a claimed 100 plus mile ability doesn’t appear easily achievable in the real world. The boot is smaller than you’d expect for a car of this size; a small family would have to check if it’s adequate even for baby paraphernalia. Rear space is a little tight for adults. Plus cameras instead of mirrors might not be for everyone. And it’s expensive: the entry model is £27k and the Advance from £29k.
The Honda E is a show-stopper and standard-bearer, but it needs sorting to be really usable. For those who have home-chargers, only do short trip and who can afford one, they will find this thing puts a smile on their face every day. To appeal to the rest of us, the EV range needs to increase dramatically, the prices needs to come down and it needs real wing mirrors – at least as an option.
Check out my daily vlogs while I was testing the car
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