Honda e review

The Honda e features cool retro design and futuristic technology, but less stylish rivals beat it in the less glamorous but more useful areas of range and practicality

Overall rating

3.5 out of 5

Price
£36,920 - £38,120
Fuel Type:
Electric

Pros

  • Great to drive
  • Packed with equipment
  • Striking looks inside and out

Cons

  • Short range
  • Limited practicality
  • £34,000 starting price
Car typeRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
Electric131-137 miles5hrs 15mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)36mins (10-80%, 100kW)

The retro-inspired styling of the Honda e was an instant hit when it first appeared as a motor-show concept – and the production version that arrived in 2020 brought all that headline-grabbing style into dealerships.

Honda’s designers have cleverly worked pleasing old-school charm into a thoroughly modern package that avoids the slightly twee feel of some rivals. Whereas the modern takes on the MINI, Fiat 500 and others have been inspired by designs of the 1950s or ‘60s, Honda looked back to the 1970s – an edgier decade altogether – and the result is hard to resist.

It’s the same story inside, where a cutting-edge array of digital screens are set on top of a touchy-feely wood-trimmed dashboard that could have been inspired by one of those upmarket music centres from the '70s. It’s a somewhat different approach to either the MINI Electric or Fiat 500 , but whatever your preference, it’s clear the Honda e is gunning for sales from style-focused rivals.

That being the case, the e is undoubtedly compromised when it comes to practicality. Cheaper, more mainstream, small electric cars vying for buyers' attention include the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e, as well as the Renault ZOE and Volkswagen e-up! Those on bigger budgets may also be tempted by the Volkswagen ID.3 or and SUV such as the Vauxhall Mokka-e or Peugeot e-2008.

When we first tested the car had a starting price of around £27,000 after the government plug-in car grant, but now, the entry-level model is priced from over £34,000, while the Honda e Advance gets its electric motor tweaked up to 152bhp from 134bhp and higher starting price of just under £37,000. There's even a Limited Edition model which starts from over £38,000. Although, once you sit inside it’s clear where a lot of that money goes. The interior is a spectacular, retro-themed affair that’s packed with technology – and a lot of screens.

Plug the Honda into a 50kW charger – common in UK motorway service areas – and you’ll get 100 miles of range in under 40 minutes, while a 100kW rapid charger will do the same in about 30 minutes. A 7kW home wallbox will deliver a full top-up in five hours.

The little e is great to drive, too. Being short and wide, with stubby overhangs and rear-wheel drive (courtesy of the single rear-mounted motor), it swings into corners with proper relish. The Advance model does 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds, and while there’s no sharp surge of acceleration that alternatives like the BMW i3 deliver, the Honda still feels nippy and responsive.

Hit the ‘single-pedal’ button and much stronger brake regeneration kicks in to deliver three levels of Nissan Leaf-style, one-pedal driving. It bleeds in smoothly even in the most aggressive mode, so you easily get a feel for the pedal response and how quickly the car will stop.

Practicality is decent in the Honda e considering its size. In fact, for a car that’s shorter than a Ford Fiesta, it has impressive rear headroom and legroom, so you can easily sit an adult behind a long-legged driver. The boot though is rather pokey at 171 litres, but will likely be all that most urban dwellers need. All of which is great news for the admirably characterful Honda.

The Honda e is an undeniably great-looking and original car, that's also fun for city or suburban life. However, its short range, tiny amount of boot space and current starting price of over £34,000 means the achingly cool Honda is left behind by its numerous, less expensive rivals. For a more detailed look at the Honda e, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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