Honda’s first serious effort at an electric car has had us excited since the concept dropped back in 2017. When the production version was revealed and Honda announced that the car wouldn’t make it to America, it was a real blow. But the car is now in the hands of journalists across the Atlantic and it’s time to get a closer look.
This First Drive video comes from our friends at Autocar. They had a chance to drive the new Honda e in England and give some first impressions. Matt Prior is behind the wheel giving his thoughts, and it’s a nice little rundown of what Honda is doing here. Honda took a different approach than most of the other OEMs when building their first mainstream electric car, choosing a smaller footprint and range over something more substantial.
While a quick spin like this isn’t going to result in the most thorough appraisal of the choices Honda made with the e, it’s a good chance to get acquainted with the design features that the automaker is experimenting with as electrification takes an ever-larger piece of the mainstream car market.
Compared with what companies like Nissan have put out with the Leaf, and what some of the more upscale manufacturers have on offer, the Honda e appears to be more of an attempt to capitalize on the packaging opportunities that an electric drivetrain can provide for. The car is rear-wheel-drive and the lack of an engine up front means the front wheels can dig in deep at lock, providing an impressively small turning circle.
Though the motor is in the rear, there’s no frunk to be found on the e, a disappointment considering how small the car is. I suppose when a car looks as good as the e does, form can get the best of function sometimes.
Inside, the large screens that make up the dashboard appear attractive and largely easy to use, though Prior does express a preference for the smartphone integration program he uses (he doesn’t specify if it’s Apple carPlay or Android Auto) over the native GUI. That said, he does appreciate the smaller screens at the flanks of the dash that show the input from the side-mounted cameras that replace the wing mirrors on the e. He says they were much easier to get used to than he expected, which bodes well for further applications of the technology as aerodynamics necessitate dropping wing mirrors in the future.
One point Prior does stick on is the range. Honda says the 35.5 kW battery in the e is good for around 125 miles on a charge though Prior didn’t quite manage that number. A few of us here at Jalopnik have argued that anxiety over a smaller range is something that people should get over and that the range numbers manufacturers are hitting should be just fine for most. Prior seems less than convinced, but time (and sales) will tell.
One last thing is the price. The car costs nearly double what a Honda Fit, roughly equivalent in size to the e, would in the UK and is by-and-large less practical both in terms of interior space and range. That seems like it may be an issue for many buyers, but I believe that most people looking at the e are after an electric car, not a B-segment Honda so I think things should be alright in terms of sales.
I’d say that Matt’s run-down of what the Honda e has on offer is a good start for us, but hopefully, we’ll get our own chance with the quirky little car soon enough and get to offer our own perspective.