Honda e review: first UK test

I’m sceptical about the Honda e.

You’re not the only one – so was I. I’m using the past tense deliberately. But when it was first shown I had some issues. It didn’t look as cool and radical as the concept. I thought a base price of £26,160 was too expensive. I didn’t think 130 miles was near enough range. I thought the camera wing mirrors were a gimmick. I wasn’t sure about the car’s whole width being taken up by screens. I feared cutesy styling concealed flimsy engineering.

Honda e Electric Car (Image:

Honda e Electric Car (Image:

And now you’ve spent a few days with it?

Only one of those concerns remains: the wing mirrors. Better here than in the Audi e-tron as the screens sit in a more natural place, but still a flawed solution. And I don’t get on with the electric rear view mirror in this £29,160 Advanced version, either. Makes your eyes feel funny after a while. One flick and you’re back to a normal rearwards view, trying to see past your passenger’s heads.
Other issues have cropped up, but none is remotely serious enough to prevent this being a thoroughly excellent little electric car.

Come on, let’s get those flaws out in the open.

The biggest one is boot space. The e is powered by a single electric motor driving the rear wheels alone. That means the boot floor is high and a Maxi pack of Shreddies doesn’t fit under the parcel shelf. In fact, after bag four the rest of the supermarket shop is going on the back seats. 171 litres in total when a Renault Zoe has 338 litres – almost precisely double the size. It’s not a deal breaker, but I was surprised how often things had to be twisted, laid flat or put in the rear footwells.
Speaking of rear space, you will get four adults in, but load it up with weight and that 130-mile claimed range is going to fall significantly. Especially during winter. And it’s not like you’re going to get 130 miles anyway. Reckon on 100. Probably closer to 80 with your mates on board. This is beginning to sound bad, isn’t it?

It is. What if I drive enthusiastically?

That’s not going to do you any favours either. If you want range, go for that Renault Zoe and its 50kWh battery. On the WLTP cycle it promises 238 miles range – over 100 more than the Honda with its smaller 35kWh battery. But how often do you drive 100, or even 80 miles in a day? And do you have access to another car if that’s the case? These are the key questions you need to answer, together with resolving your charging strategy. If you’ve got off-street parking, have a charger installed – it’s only a few hundred quid. It’s a wonderful feeling to arrive home and just plug in. No off-street parking? Running a cable across a pavement is probably not an option, which means you’re going to be using charge points. Minefield.

How is the Honda for nipping around town?

Possibly the best city car there is, no matter what fuel it’s powered by. It might be heavy (1,542kg) but it’s compact – mid-way between a Zoe and VW’s Up for length and width. The windscreen is nearly as upright as a Mini Electric’s, but you sit higher and have a more commanding view out over a very stubby bonnet. It’s super-simple to drive, and snaps away from lights with real vigour.
But the best thing about it is the turning circle. This side of a London Taxi, there’s nothing to touch it. It makes parking simple, multi-storeys a doddle and odd though it sounds, it’s weirdly satisfying to have something that turns as tight as a dodgem.

Read more: Top Gear

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