Honda e performance, motor & drive
The Honda e is great fun to drive, yet also comfortable and brilliantly designed for town motoring
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The Honda e doesn’t feel as fast as rivals like the BMW i3, but it's more than quick enough to take advantage of the fun, assertive way it peels through corners and dispatches awkward car parks. There are seven levels of brake regeneration – four in the car’s standard mode, and three within the single-pedal driving mode that’s designed to enable you to drive around town using the accelerator alone, rather than the brake pedal.
The sheer number of modes seems like overkill, but the fact that they’re controlled by paddles on the steering wheel makes it easy to change the level and also means you can scrub speed off in the same way that you might downshift in an automatic petrol or diesel car.
The system always bleeds in smoothly and with familiarity it’s easy to judge when the car is going to stop, whether you prefer to leave the car in a favoured regeneration level or toggle the settings using the paddles as you see fit.
Honda e 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
The Honda e Advance will do 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds while the less powerful standard car will take more like 8.5 seconds. Neither feels hot-hatch-quick, as some electric cars such as the i3 do, but the Honda is more than nippy enough, even if you ask for a mid-range burst of speed to merge onto a motorway. Around town, acceleration from 0-30mph is more important, and here the instant torque from the e's electric motor makes all the difference, so nipping away from the lights or darting into a gap in traffic becomes a breeze.
Natural-feeling yet light steering is a real highlight of the Honda, which encourages you to swing through tight corners and roundabouts in order to take advantage of its tiny 8.6-metre turning circle. There’s a real cheekiness to the way the e handles that’s great for making bad roads and traffic more enjoyable than they have any right to be, so we’d say it’s the best city car to drive through the urban sprawl. It’s fun outside the city, too, where the rear-wheel-drive setup still delivers plenty of grip and you have enough confidence in the Honda’s performance and cornering ability to enjoy a country road or feel safe and secure on the motorway. A SEAT Mii electric or Volkswagen e-up! would give it a run for its money, but the Honda certainly rides better and its steering and turning circle also give it an edge over those models.
Over patchy road surfaces the Honda feels a little jiggly, but when you hit a bigger bump, the thud never arrives since the suspension softens the blow. The ride is more settled at higher speeds, but it’s certainly not busy or nervous around town. It’s more comfortable than pretty much any petrol-powered supermini on sale today – and a lot quieter, too.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe 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
- 2Range, battery & chargingThe Honda e has a long 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 & performance - currently readingThe 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?