Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
There are two different power outputs available; the entry-level Honda E gives you 134bhp and the Honda E Advance has 152bhp to offer. In fact, the difference in pace between the two motors isn’t much – the 152bhp version will take you from 0-62mph 0.7sec quicker than the 134bhp version – and both versions are quicker than the E’s chief rivals, the Seat Mii Electric and Renault Zoe.
Off the line, the E is very responsive – especially in Sport mode – and very well suited to the urban cut and thrust. Plus, a push of a button enables one-pedal driving, whereby lifting off the accelerator brings the car’s regenerative braking system into action and can bring the car to a complete stop, helping to recharge the battery in the process. While performance does tail off towards motorway speeds, it is still impressive.
Not only is the Honda E quicker than its rivals, it’s also more entertaining to drive. Its steering offers a far greater sense of connection to the front wheels than you’ll experience among the competition, and its natural weighting helps you to accurately thread it through corners, enjoying yourself in the process. Despite the car’s tall, boxy design, it’s not hampered by any wayward body lean through corners either, so its motion on the road always feels well controlled. The Renault Zoe feels sloppy by comparison, while the Mii’s light steering feels nothing like as meaty. The fact that the Honda is rear-wheel drive doesn’t make it some Ken Block-style drift machine, but does allow it a phenomenally tight turning circle – this is very handy around town.
The Honda E employs a more sophisticated suspension set up than its rivals, and while it doesn’t rival the surprisingly polished and comfortable ride of a Seat Mii Electric, it is still comfortable. Big road imperfections like speed bumps and potholes can send a pretty stiff jolt through the interior, and the ride is generally firmer than the Zoe’s, but still feels nicely settled. On the whole it’s quiet inside the car, too, although road roar is quite intrusive at higher speeds.
But here comes the bad news. On a fully charged battery, the 152bhp Honda E will officially travel for 125 miles, with the 134bhp version mustering 137 miles; in the real-world, you can expect far lower figures. The official figures would’ve been moderately impressive five years ago, but rank among the lowest around by today’s electric car standards. It’s worth noting, though, that if you opt for the Honda E Advance and spec the smaller 16in alloys instead of the standard 17in ones, its official range goes back up to 137 miles.