What importance do you place on design? Would you be willing to sacrifice some functionality and longevity in order to look good?
Far be it for me to suggest that Honda cut any corners when it came to the new Honda e, but given the relatively low range, and pretty much useless boot, I’m willing to wager that they played a distant second fiddle to the design. And that is absolutely fine by me.
The little Honda e was one car that we were desperate to get our hands on in 2020. Given the engineering excellence that we have come to expect from the company that has built some of the world’s most memorable engines, their first truly dedicated EV was bound to be a well-thought out and beautifully executed thing. Was the wait worth it?
If you were to judge the little Honda purely on its battery size and the range that it is capable of, then you might be disappointed. This is a ground-up EV remember, so a 35.5kWh battery capable of a potential 127 miles is a little disappointing, especially as the car’s main rival, the MINI Electric, has a 32kWh battery and the potential to cover 145 miles from a modified internal combustion engined car platform. Yet to only factor that in would be to miss the point of a car that is destined for greatness.
Forget range. Honda have. In a car this size, the capability of covering over 200 miles on a charge is not important. They see the e as a pure and simple means of urban transport where the average daily commute is less than 23 miles. The focus here has been on design, technology and sheer product desirability. And that it has in abundance.
The car, originally previewed in concept form, changed from having three doors to five, and yes, some of the design was toned-down for production, but the original form is still there. The interior is a masterclass on how to move away from the predictable norm, with no less than 5 screens across the entire width of the car that sit atop a ledge for a dashboard. External mirrors are replaced by cameras that present their findings onto the two outer screens, whilst the driver has a screen directly in front to convey the most important information such as speed and range. The last two are there for infotainment and entertainment, even doubling up as an aquarium or Japanese garden for those moments of tranquility. There is a recycled material blended with wool on the seats, and the whole ambience is one of space and lightness. It really is a very special place to sit.
And dynamically too the car doesn’t disappoint. No, it doesn’t have the alacrity of the MINI or even the Peugeot e208, but it has a refinement about it that just makes journeys seem that little bit more bearable. Especially in more urban areas.
Whilst it isn’t perfect, the Honda e has a charm and character about it that is much needed in the automotive landscape, and therefore the sacrifices that have been made to allow it to exist, were well worth making.