It was along to Amber Lakes near Windsor in Berkshire for the press launch of the new Honda e. This was the first new car event for many months, since March, so was great to be back. Honda UK took extra safety measures to keep all the journalists safe and well. One of these was instead of the press conference in a room, they changed with convention and we all sat in our allocated and sanitised cars and watch the presentation on technology, specification etc in the cars with the sound coming from the radios speakers.
The Honda e is Honda’s first full electric car, and they say the first of many. It is a small compact hatch that measures 3,895 mm long, so easy for parking. It also has a turning circle of just 4.3 meters so very manoeuvrable in tight spaces. For such a short car, it has loads of interior space, although the boot is not that big, especially when the two chunky charging cables are in there. Two cables, four bags of supermarket shopping, and it’s almost full.
Honda say it has a maximum range when the battery is full of 137 miles. When I got in the car it was 98% charged with a range of 111 miles. A bit off the claimed distance, but in fairness to the car, it is based on previous driving, and the car had been driven the previous days by journalists on the press launch, so give it benefit of the doubt.
It is a quick little thing and goes from 0-100kph/0-62mph in 8 seconds, so it doesn’t hang about when accelerating, and great for a quick get-away.
The cars design can best be described as ‘cute’ and a bit reminiscent of the first 1970’s Honda Civic (for those old enough to remember it – I do unfortunately!).
The overhangs are very short, making the wheels sit in each corner of the car, which helps with interior space. The batteries are situated under the floor of the car, so do not take up any valuable space in the car.
When you get in the Honda e, it does have a very premium look and feel, and also very modern. The dash is like something you’ve never seen before: there are multiple screens that go from one side to the other, literally from each door pillar on the passenger side to the door pillar on the drivers side. You can switch the screens around, so for example if you have satellite navigation on one screen, you can have it in front of you, the driver, or you can move it to another screen nearer the passenger.
But the strangest thing, and takes some getting used to, are the rear view cameras. This car does not have door mirrors, but are replaced by small, aerodynamic cameras that are coated in a secret formula to protect them from water, rain etc to keep them clean and clear in all conditions. There are two screens by the door pillars that show what is alongside and behind you, very clever, and it does work, but does take some getting used to. I guess after using this system for a while, then getting back into a car with mirrors, then the old traditional way of looking backwards would seem odd.
I drove from near Windsor onto the M25, past Heathrow, through small quaint villages, then into the Surrey Hills, though didn’t see many hills. The car behaved perfectly, it easily held motorway speeds, with plenty of power left, just in case. It went slowly through the small villages, and handled so well on the twisty country roads. Altogether a great all-rounder.
But like all Electric Cars there is always this nagging thought in your mind if you are going to have enough electric left in the batteries – it is commonly known as range anxiety. You seem to be constantly looking how many miles range you have left, and watch the percentage of battery level. In a petrol or diesel car, you can easily pop into a fuel station, and five-minutes later you have many hundreds of miles of range. With an electric car, it is not that easy, and more careful planning is needed, and of course much more time to fill up the batteries. Just ask Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman (their new TV show is beset with battery-charging anxiety in South and Central America).
The Honda e can be charged from 0% to 80% in just 30 minutes, providing you have access to a public fast-charger. But using a home wall-box with 11kW AC facility it takes around 3hr 30 mins. But plug it into a household normal plug and it will take over TWENTY-EIGHT HOURS … so you don’t really want to be doing that.
The Honda e also comes with a long list of standard equipment, safety and technology, and a lot of nice goodies. It has remote heating/cooling, so you can control the interior temperature while having your breakfast at home. It has a panoramic glass roof, normal or sport driving mode, Intelligent Cruise Control, perfect on the M25, heated front seats, and so on. It also comes with Park Pilot which will park the car fir you in virtually any space, with, or without lines. I did not get chance to test this, but was assured by Honda, that it does work.
The UK list price of the car I drove was £29,710. Remember, with electric vehicles the total cost of ownership is “front-loaded” on the purchase of the vehicle.
This new electric car from Honda looks good, drives even better, is so much fun, and for such a small car, has plenty of interior space. It is full of goodies and toys, and will hit a sweet spot for anyone who wants a small electric fun car. It is the perfect EV for tootling around Gibraltar. But, and there’s always a but, you have to be prepared to wait some time to get a full charge to go further afield over the Frontier.