The Honda e city car is a game-changer. Combining retro styling, start-of-the-art technology and clever interior design, it’s surprisingly spacious, as well as nippy, easy to drive and manoeuvre.
There are two versions – the basic Honda e and the Honda e Advance. Both have a small 35.5kWh battery, though the former has a 134bhp electric motor compared to 152bhp for the latter.
That power converts into 0-62mph sprint times of 9.0 and 8.3 seconds respectively, while drive is via the rear wheels.It may only have a modest 137-mile range, yet it can be charged from the low battery warning indicator to 80% in just 31 minutes using a 50kW public charger, or overnight at home.
The Honda e’s interior is minimalist and refreshing – technologically light years ahead of anything else in its price range.
Instead of a centre console, two large infotainment touchscreens are stretched across the dashboard, joined at either end by two smaller 6.0-inch-screen which display a live feed from the “door mirror” cameras (the wing mirrors have been replaced by two aerodynamically housed small cameras).
The touchscreens are configurable and can be swapped around, giving you access to everything from sat-nav to entertainment and basic driving info – to a virtual aquarium.
You can also speak to your car, via the built-in AI Honda Personal Assistant. Simply say ‘OK Honda’, and your car is at your command.
The Honda e’s cabin is a combination of clear surfaces, wood trim and furniture-influenced fabrics with plenty of storage spaces. The finish is impressive too.
There’s plenty of space up front, but it is cosy in the back. I’m a tad under 6ft and I could sit behind a me, but it was tight, while the boot space is just 171 litres (expanding to 861 litres with the rear seats flipped down).
Driving the Honda e is as simple as engaging D for Drive and pressing the accelerator. You can also enable one-pedal driving. Simply lift off the accelerator and the car’s regenerative braking system kicks in at maximum level, slowing the car quickly without the need to press the brake pedal and helping to recharge the battery in the process.
Extra goodies on the top-spec Honda e Advance include the brand’s clever parking pilot system. At the touch of a button, this can search for a space and park in it – without you needing to steer or use the pedals.
On the road the ride is comfortable, while grip is excellent, body roll is minimal in more tricky corners and it’s deceptively fast.
With good visibility, light steering, short overhangs and brisk acceleration, it’s ideally suited to city life. Add its party piece (a turning circle of just 4.3 metres) and the Honda e is remarkably manoeuvrable.
It may not have the go-kart driving appeal of a MINI Electric, but I’d be amazed if it doesn’t put a smile on your face during your test drive.
Sounds too good to be true? Well yes, it is, because there’s a fly in the ointment. The basic Honda e starts at £37,395, which is expensive for a city car with a modest range. What’s more, that range will drop to closer to 100 miles in the colder months.