Decent build, decent range, decent performance. Relentless competence, basically
A bit expensive, no standout good bits, the stupid name
What is it?
This is Honda’s second electric vehicle in its line-up after the Honda e, which has already been on the market for three years. As it turns out, buyers are less keen on near-£40k electric superminis with limited range than they are on £45k small electric SUVs with fairly decent range. Which is precisely what the e:Ny1 is, just don’t ask what’s taken so long.
What’s with the weird name?
That’s a good question – no one really knows. The e:N part stands for the new electric platform that will underpin Honda’s electric efforts in the coming years, although we also heard that the name stands for “energise yourself”. OK, then. And 1 because it’s the first car on the platform. Which is frankly bonkers.
Maybe once there’s a new range of e:N cars we’ll see it all in a new context and appreciate the interesting strategy behind. In the meantime, let’s get energised.
And how are you supposed to say it?
It’s not ‘anyone’, it’s the ee-en-why-one. Silent colon.
How does the Anyone, sorry, e:Ny1 fit in the Honda range?
This is the first in what will be a range of electric cars, but for the moment you could think of it as a sort of electric HR-V. But don’t, because Honda is very keen to make it clear that they are two different cars. Two very different, but very similar cars. One’s electric, and the other is… very different. Like chalk and cheese.
What other differences are there?
Oh, so many. The e:Ny1 is 57mm longer than the HR-V because of its long, sloping boot, but actually shaves 3mm off the wheelbase. It’s 2mm higher, though. The Honda badge up front has had an all-white reworking and the Honda script on the back of the car comes in a new sans serif text that screams new mobility and a bold future to come. Actually, it doesn’t, it just murmurs ‘Honda’ in a different font.
Does it work alright?
It works well as a nice little electric crossover. In that middle-of-the-road way that Honda has perfected. The styling might go crazy every now and then, but there’s a dependable quality to a Honda where you know what you’re going to get, even if you know that it won’t be particularly exciting. Like a chicken and stuffing sandwich in a supermarket meal deal.
The ride is a little firm, but then you get that with these heavy electric SUVs. Honda claims it’s made an effort to curb the sickening effect of e-acceleration by mapping the car’s acceleration to match that of a petrol car. It has worked well: the car is still perky, but there’s less front wheel scrabbling. Unless you’re in Sport mode, when you get the full mighty force of the e-motor's 201bhp and 229lb ft.
Is it nice inside?
It’s a similar story to above – the Honda interior is nicely designed and thoughtfully put together, even if there’s nothing in particular that makes it stand out. Aside from the giant central touchscreen, of course, but even that in practice turns out to be slightly less interesting than you first thought.
Rather than being a huge single screen, the 15.1in display is divided into three chunks, with the aircon controls always on at the bottom, information and menu displays in the middle, and maps/smartphone mirroring at the top. Which is all fine and sensible, but if you’re always going to have the aircon controls at the bottom of the screen why not just chuck in some knobs and buttons? Anyway.
What about range and that?
The e:Ny1 has a 62kWh battery, with cells distributed underneath the floor of the cabin and beneath the seats. It has an official WLTP range of 256 miles, and on mixed roads we got around 4mi/kWh from the car, which is more than respectable. It’ll do 0–62mph in 7.6 seconds - which is plenty speedy enough for a family runabout - on to a top speed of 100mph.
It will rapid charge at 78kW – Honda says it's throttled this back a bit so the car can maintain maximum charge for longer rather than going for a headline figure it can only sustain for a few minutes. That gets you from 10 per cent to 80 per cent charge in 45 minutes, or an extra 62 miles in 11 minutes.
There's loads of competition isn't there?
Indeed. There's the £45k Toyota bZ4X that Honda says is its closest rival, then you've got the likes of the Peugeot e-2008, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV (all cheaper) or the more expensive Mercedes EQA. Even the new Single Motor version of the Volvo XC40 starts at £46k.
What's the verdict?
The e:NY1 is a very competent, middle-of-the-road, small electric SUV from Honda – which will probably count as a success for the Japanese carmaker.
It’s the first serious EV from the company (what, did you think the Honda e was a mass-market, box office hit?), and it needs to lead to big numbers down the road as more electric cars are released on the e:N platform. It’s a decent - if unexciting - start, and Honda fans are unlikely to be dissatisfied with the experience.