Honda e review
The Honda e features winning design and technology, but less stylish rivals beat it for range and practicality
- Great to drive
- Packed with equipment
- Striking looks inside and out
- Small boot
- Short range
- Pricey insurance
|Car type||Range||Wallbox charge time||Fast charge time|
|Electric||131-137 miles||5hrs 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 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 dash that could have been inspired by one of those upmarket music centres from the '70s.
It’s a somewhat different approach to the MINI Electric, but each will have its fans. Likewise Fiat’s new 500 line-up, but whatever your preference, it’s clear the Honda e is gunning for sales from style-focused rivals.
That being the case, the Honda 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 one of the newer SUVs such as the Vauxhall Mokka-e or Peugeot e-2008.
Two versions of the Honda e are offered. The entry-level car gets 134bhp; prices start at just under £27,000 after the government grant, while the Honda e Advance gets its electric motor tweaked up to 152bhp and costs around £2,000 more. Sit inside the Honda e and it’s clear how the price might be justified. The interior is a spectacular, retro-themed affair that’s packed with technology – and a lot of screens.
Plug the Honda e 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 charger will do the same in about 30 minutes. A 7kW home wallbox will deliver a full top-up in five hours.
The Honda e is great to drive, too. Being short and wide, with stubby overhangs and rear-wheel drive (courtesy of the single rear-mounted motor), the e swings into corners with proper relish. The Advance 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 perfectly good in the Honda e. 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’s rather pokey, but will likely be all that most urban dwellers need. All of which is great news for the admirably characterful Honda e.
After all, it’s not just a great-looking and original car; it’s also very practical yet fun for city or suburban life. Practical yet also achingly cool – enough to justify the premium price for many buyers, we suspect. For a more detailed look at the Honda e, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Honda e features winning design and technology, but less stylish rivals beat it for range and practicality
- 2Range, battery & chargingThe Honda e delivers enough range for a huge swathe of motorists' daily requirements, but some rivals can go much further
- 3Running costsGreat finance figures make the Honda e more affordable than its fairly high list price initially suggests
- 4Electric motor, drive & performanceThe Honda e is great fun to drive, yet also comfortable and brilliantly designed for town motoring
- 5Interior & comfortThe Honda e's screens seem a bit much at first, but you can use them as much or as little as you wish and just enjoy the brilliant retro-modern interior
- 6Practicality & boot spaceBoot space in the Honda e isn't great, but otherwise practicality is good by small-car standards
- 7Reliability & safetyThe Honda e is packed with driver aids, although the absence of some of the latest systems as standard meant it only scored four out of five in Euro NCAP crash testing
- 8Living with itDid a short driving range and pretty hefty price tag taint our time living with the Honda e electric supermini?