Honda goes e for

electric

Honda e, 2020, front, action
Honda e, 2020, side
Honda e, 2020, front
Honda e, 2020, rear
Honda e, 2020, interior
Honda e, 2020, door mirror camera
Honda e, 2020, display screen
Honda e, 2020, charging
Honda e, 2020, boot
Honda e, 2020, badge

WITH its retro styling, lounge-like comfort and rapid-fire performance, Honda's first fully electric car for Europe is guaranteed to draw attention wherever it goes.

It's called the Honda e and the compact five-door hatchback is available in standard format priced at £26,660 or Advanced trim costing £29,160.

Rather than simply electrifying an existing model, Honda chose to design a completely new car and it's packed with innovative features - many of which would usually be found on premium brands.

Viewed from any angle, the e looks quirky in its design with curvaceous lines, rounded front and rear light clusters that are a throwback to the 1972 Honda Civic, pop-out door handles, a glass roof and short overhangs that help this car turn on a sixpence with a 4.3-metre turning circle.

But one of the first things you will notice is the lack of side mirrors. Instead, these are replaced by a Side Camera Mirror System with compact cameras that deliver live images onto two six-inch screens at either end of the dashboard.

Move inside and the minimalist interior is beautifully crafted with the focal point being two 12.3-inch screens that offer access to all manner of features.

The driver can personalise their screen according to preference and the front seat passenger can access their own settings too. These screens can also be switched back and forth.

The level of on-board technology would leave the geekiest techie thinking all their Christmases had come at once.

There is smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, full navigation and even an AI-powered personal assistant that works similarly to Alexa and is brought to life with the words ‘OK Honda' - this system can offer all manner of assistance on the move, such as parking options, restaurant recommendations and weather forecasts.

There is a three-pin plug and even an HDMI socket, so when parked up, you can sit back in the exceptionally comfy seats and watch a movie on the screen.

Creature comforts include heated seats, a heated steering wheel, Bluetooth hands-free telephone and plenty more besides.

The entry level 135ps (100kW) Honda e boasts 315Nm of torque and can complete the 0-62mph sprint in 9.0 seconds.

We opted for the slightly more powerful e Advanced which has 154ps (113kW) of power and shaves a second off the 0-62mph time.

Top speed is 90.1mph and the e offers 137 miles of range under WLTP testing. It's worth noting that the range on the Advanced model if optional 17-inch wheels are fitted drops to 125 miles between charges.

Comfort levels within the car are impressive with a thoroughly modern feel to the car with its funky design and futuristic layout.

Although it can appear a little overwhelming initially, it has all been really well thought out and the screens are easy to operate on the fly. And it's always nice to see the climate control system is easily adjusted via separate buttons so you don't need to access any drop down on-screen menus to turn on the air con.

So the new Honda e looks the business, but how does it cope when put to the test? The answer is very well. We fizzed around busy Windsor roads and then out onto the nearby motorways for a two-and-a-half-hour test drive and the car was up to any challenge.

The acceleration is smooth and constant with instant power for sharp bursts of acceleration. The road-holding is ultra grippy and, with its independent four wheel suspension, the rear wheel-drive model feels well balanced as it powers through the country lanes. It is agile, easy to manoeuvre and also boasts nicely weighted steering.

The Advanced model featured a Sport mode which sharpened up the handling further and even when pushed hard, the car is well insulated against road surface and wind noise.

The lack of conventional door mirrors takes a little getting used to, but not too long, and the cameras can be adjusted positionally just as you would any other side mirror. The car also features a rearview mirror that offers a camera or standard view of what's going on behind the vehicle.

Another notable feature on the Honda e is the Single Pedal Control System which improves driving efficiency in urban environments. When activated at the press of a button, it allows the driver to accelerate, slow and stop the car using just the accelerator pedal. The level of deceleration can be adjusted via steering wheel paddles. Once again, it's a feature that once mastered, makes complete sense when sitting in stop start city traffic.

On the practicality front, the Honda e has a boot capacity of 171 litres that increases to 861 with the rear seats dropped flat and there are numerous practical storage options scattered throughout the car, including a pull-out cup holder, glovebox and deep trays. There is room for four people inside the e although back seat passengers will find leg room a tad limited if the front seats are pushed well back.

Charging the Honda e takes 4.1 hours on a 6.6kW charger but an 80 per cent charge can be achieved in just 30 minutes at a fast charge point.

Safety systems are comprehensive on the vehicle thanks to enhanced Honda SENSING technology.

Features include collision mitigation braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, high beam support, intelligent adaptive cruise control with cut-in prediction, lane departure warning with road departure mitigation, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic monitor and lots more.

Looking forward, Honda believes that two thirds of its global car sales will feature some form of electrification by 2030. The Honda e is an encouraging glimpse into that future, but it's been made available to sample now.

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