There's certainly a clever concept behind the Honda e. According to Honda the city is where electric cars really do make a difference. In urban areas exhaust gases directly affect a large group of people. And in the city internal combustion engines are the least efficient. Also, in the city short distances are covered and then the limited range of an electric car is not an issue. Honda feels that electric cars for longer range carry so many batteries along, that part of the energy is wasted on transporting batteries rather than people. That is why Honda offers a hydrogen powered car for long distances.
A compact car is most practical in the city and that's why the e is a small car. With electric propulsion and when using a car in the city, it literally lives closer to the people and that is why Honda opted for a friendly look (just like it did with its Asimo robot). To make the e attractive and suitable for intensive use, the cabin has been decorated like a little living room. The designers used warm colours and instead of car upholstery Honda applied furniture upholstery. The wood on the dashboard is real wood, not imitation. Thanks to this warm atmosphere the e doesn't feel like a car from the future, but rather like the best one can achieve with today's technology.
The space in the front is more than adequate. In the rear passengers have to raise their legs to fit, but other than that the space in the back is fair for a car of this size. The boot is very small (171 litres) and part of it is taken up by a charging cable. The space is barely enough for two bags.
When it comes to equipment, the e simply offers all technology available today. Honda never economised with simple versions, but always opted for the best. The most striking part of the cabin is the dashboard, which completely consists of displays. Honda utilises the possibilities this offers to the max. All the usual functions can be freely distributed over the screens, so the driver chooses what information is shown where and how. To prevent that some functions are out of reach for the driver, a simple switch flips the left and right half of the content. During the test this also turned out to be practical for the passenger: he/she can now operate the infotainment system without distracting the driver.
A very modern feature is the artificially intelligent assistant. By saying "Okay Honda" a happy face appears, after which full sentences are accepted as commands. This applies to operating the car, but also to information about the weather, traffic or data from the Internet (the e can even tell jokes!). Honda's assistant is more advanced than those of other brands because it also understands follow-up questions. After asking for restaurants one can add "which one has free parking?", without repeating the first question. Thanks to "over the air updates" this assistant and other functions will get even more advanced over time.
Also special: the e is fitted with digital wing mirrors, of which the image is shown on the far corners of the dashboard. This has a number of advantages: the aerodynamics of the car are improved (the camera's have 90% less wind resistance than glass mirrors) and that makes the car more efficient and much quieter. It takes little time to get used to these mirrors and it turns out they have another advantage: when driving in the dark, the headlights of other cars don't blind the driver making driving less tiring. The rear-view mirror is made of glass, but by flipping it it switches to digital mode as well, and again makes driving in the dark easier.
Just sitting in the Honda e feels like a party that preferably never ends thanks to the gorgeous design, beautiful material and high tech features. However, when starting the car it becomes clear that this party won't last. On a full battery the range is just under 200 km / 124 miles (official range according to WLTP method: 222 km / 138 miles). Also, this can only be achieved in favourable weather, at relatively low speeds and with the climate control turned off.
While the battery lasts, driving the e yet again feels like a party. That is because the driver has a lot of possibilities to make the car behave exactly the way he/she wants. There's a normal and sporty mode. When selecting the latter, performance is so good, that it partly compensates for the high price. Other compact electric cars with similar range are cheaper, but not nearly as responsive (or quiet!) as the e. The driver decides how much energy is being recuperated when releasing the throttle. If so desired, the e can be driven with just one foot and the brake pedal is only used in emergencies.
Charging is done by a CCS socket on the bonnet and can be done using a fast charger of 50 kW (31 minutes from 0 to 80%). On a public charging point the e can charge at 7.4 kW over 1 phase in just over 4 hours. Charging at home can be done from a standard plug (2.3 Kw) and takes almost 19 hours. While charging, the remaining time is shown, not the actual current. To pass the time, no games are available. However, the displays and the excellent audio system from Alpine can be used to watch films with Dolby 5.1 sound.
Characteristic for the Honda e is the fact that it is is a car without compromise. That also goes for its handling. The platform is not shared with any other models and has not been designed together with other auto makers. It is custom made for the e and that comes at a price. It also has a lot of advantages, because again the difference with other compact electric cars is crystal clear.
The e doesn't just have a low centre of gravity because of the location of the batteries, the weight has also been evenly distributed over the front and rear wheels. Also, the underpinning is perfectly adapted to the weight of the car (this tiny box weighs a ton and a half!), which prevents the e from ever feeling like a heavy vehicle. On bad surfaces the weight is even an advantage: the e is less jumpy than other small cars, while it is just as lively. Because the engine is in the rear powering the rear wheels, the front wheels can pivot more giving the e a small turning circle (9.2 metres from wall to wall). Another advantage: when accelerating quickly the weight of an object is naturally transferred to the rear and in that situation rear-wheel drive offers better grip.
Is the Honda e an expensive toy or a clever concept? It's both! Yes, the Honda e is an expensive car. For the price of a Honda e other brands sell electrically powered mid-size SUVs with almost double the range of the e.
But that's not the point! With the e Honda shows things can be different. Why would someone drive an SUV when that car never goes off-road? And what's the value of a large range when in reality only short distances are covered? The Honda e is the ultimate city car, and that concept has been realised to perfection. Thanks to a bespoke platform, handling, performance and comfort are at a significantly higher level than with other compact electric cars.
The equipment isn't just rich, but even innovative. In fact, the e is so innovative that Honda easily surpasses most premium brands. On top of all that the beautiful design and gorgeous materials make the Honda e a car to fall in love with.
- Good looks
- Excellent handling
- Innovative, daring concept
- High price
- Limited range
- Climate control never stops