It’s a fun, quirky, happy little retro-inspired city car that actually does a lot of things very well.
If range is your prime concern when looking to buy an electric car, vehicles that have a claimed range of just over 200 km (125 miles) probably won’t make your shortlist. However, that means you’d exclude one of the most lovable cars currently on the market (electric or otherwise), the Honda e.
Upon heading over to pick up the car from Honda to drive it for a few days, all I knew for sure was that I really liked the look of it from photos and videos. I also knew Honda didn’t base its underpinnings on any other existing car and that it had developed a bespoke rear-wheel drive platform specifically for it (and other future EVs).
Gallery: 2020 Honda e
Another thing it had were a total of six screens inside, two of which were used to display the feed from the standard-fit side rear-view cameras that do away with traditional mirrors. I was expecting these to be worse than traditional mirrors, a gimmick for gimmicks’ sake, yet I actually found myself adapting to them rather quickly.
What surprised me, though, was just how fun and tossable the car was. Power output was not particularly high, 152 horsepower, but torque was plentiful (315 Nm / 232 pound-foot), so acceleration never felt inadequate. Sure, I maybe would have liked it to be a bit more powerful, yet for its purpose, naught to sixty in under 8 seconds is plenty fast.
Comfort was another highlight. I was very impressed by how well the car (with the larger 17-inch wheels) rode over bumps. It absorbed potholes and imperfections much better than pretty much all other cars its size, thanks in part to having independent suspension on all four corners. Steering precision and directness was also impressive, and thanks to the low center of gravity (the 35.5 kWh battery pack was placed very low in the car), attacking corners at speed proved fun and rewarding.
Before actually getting to experience the car, I though the low range was going to be a deal breaker, especially in combination with the high acquisition price. However, after driving around in it for a few days, I realized that for in-town duty, the range is adequate (especially if you can charge it at home or at work), so that only left the price the biggest hurdle. Yet even this can drop, by as much as a quarter, if you factor in the decent government grants for EVs offered by European Union countries.
And since this car has premium ambitions (and a price to match), its main rival is the MINI Cooper SE, which is quicker, has a bit more usable range and is slightly more luxurious feeling inside. However, it feels nowhere near as special as the Honda e, a car that feels like a passion project from Honda; if only the Japanese manufacturer’s bean counters had opted to give it a 50 kWh battery pack, that would have considerably boosted its appeal...