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The Top Gear car review:Honda e
For:A dash like no other, irresistible looks, tidy handling
Against:Not cheap, limited range, small boot
What is it?
It’s the Urban EV Concept that became a legend, the legend that became a prototype and the prototype that became the dinkiest, most desirable car since the Suzuki Jimny. It’s the Honda e, Honda’s first mass-market, pure-electric car (yes, Honda dabbled with the EV Plus in 1997, but only around 350 of those were ever built), and we want one.
Honda clearly isn’t going Tesla chasing with this one, the dimensions are Fiat 500-plus-a-bit, wider than a Jazz but actually narrower when you take into account it has no wing mirrors. This is very much an urban runaround. A range of 137-miles means you won’t want to stray too far from town, but a choice of 134bhp and 152bhp versions, both with decent performance especially up to 30mph, a chassis that’s been shown some of Honda’s handling love and a configurable driving experience mean it’s not out of its depth if you fancy a ‘proper’ drive… and have the battery to spare.
But cheap the ‘e’ isn’t. While Honda has kept the dimensions in check and battery to a compact 35.5kWh, the price starts at a notably juicy £26,160 for the base car, rising to £28,660 for the higher-powered, higher-spec Advance model. And those both include the £3,500 government grant. So, to justify prices that eclipse the much larger VW ID3, Honda hasn’t held back with the technology.
As standard you get cameras for wing mirrors and the rear view mirror, 100kw DC rapid charging capability in 30 mins, an app to pre-condition the car and babysit it while it charges, many crash avoidance systems (including auto braking, adaptive cruise, lane keep assist, auto high-beam headlights) and several acres of screen. And all this wrapped in a subtly retro colour and material pallet designed to chime with the cheeky exterior – available in white, black, grey, blue and highlighter yellow paint.
The Honda e arrives riding a wave of new small, affordable EVs, at last broadening the choice beyond the longer-range, but more premium and pricey stuff like Teslas, the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron. Honda is up against the new Peugeot e-208 (and its sister car the Corsa-e), the Mini Electric and the Renault Zoe and banking on customers seeing past its chunky price and skinny range, and buying with their hearts not their heads.
Photography: Mark Riccioni