Honda E long-term test: report 1

There's a lot to like about the Honda E, but can you live with the short range in the real world? We're running one to find out...

2020 Honda e LT cornering

The car Honda E Advance Run by Mark Tisshaw, special contributor

Why it’s here To see if you really need the extra range offered by rivals day-to-day, and to see how the E manages on longer journeys when charging stops are required.

Needs to Be quick to charge so disruption is minimised on longer journeys, and offer something a little special to justify its high price.

Miles 388 List price £32,160 (before Gov't grant) Target Price £32,160 Price as tested £32,710 (before Gov't grant) Test range 95 miles Official range 125 miles Options fitted Crystal blue metallic paint (£550), 17in wheels (FoC)

30 August 2020 – Hello Honda E

The observant among you might have noticed that although this is indeed Mark Tisshaw’s shiny new Honda E, he is not the one introducing it to you. New cars editor Alan Taylor-Jones picks up the story.

It all started with the What Car? Electric Car Awards. As one of the most anticipated new cars of the year, the Honda E was obviously a strong contender. And so when I found out that Mark had just taken delivery of one, I sent him a cheeky text asking to borrow it.

Surprisingly, he said yes without hesitation. And because he would be on holiday by the time we'd finished our judging, he let me use it for my own staycation.

2020 Honda e LT driving

At less than 3.9 meters long, the E is similar in size to a Mini 3dr, but it sits much higher due to the location of its batteries beneath the floor. The resulting shape is not everyone's cup of tea, but personally I think it looks great – particularly on the larger 17in alloy wheels that are a no-cost option.

I'm also a big fan of the wood-effect trim, cloth trim inserts and simple two-spoke steering wheel, but it's not all good news inside the car, because I can’t reach the left-hand touchscreen.

I initially had my reservations about Honda's decision to swap conventional door mirrors for cameras, too, but it didn't take long to realise they're no gimmick; the displays are crisp and give you a wide view, plus they're ideally placed so you don’t take your eyes as far from the road as you do with conventional mirrors. The cameras even make the E feel much narrower than rivals such as the Mini Electric and Peugeot e-208 (below).

Ride comfort is similarly impressive, plus wind noise is exceedingly well suppressed by small car standards and there isn't much tyre roar unless you find a particularly coarse surface.

LT Honda E with Peugeot e-208

The steering is delightfully precise, with well-judged weight, and the turning circle is even tighter than the smaller Seat Mii Electric's.

The Honda E is even pretty brisk, whizzing off the line and feeling like it has plenty of reserve at motorway speeds; official figures suggest it's faster than a Volkswagen Up GTI, and I can believe it.

It's safe to say, then, that I was enjoying my time with the Honda E, using it for a succession of short trip near my home. In fact, my only real complaints were the tiny boot and rather laggy infotainment system that can at least be sidestepped by using Apple CarPlay.

But then plans changed. With lockdown easing, my wife and I decided to visit family in Suffolk, 137 miles away. That's outside the E's official range of 125 miles, let alone the 90-95 miles of predicted range I'd routinely been seeing in the digital instrument panel even when the car was fully charged.

True, my wife has a petrol-engined car, but we weren't going to fit the two of us, our luggage, a dog and a pair of cockatiels in their cage in her Mazda MX-5, whereas it turns out you can in a Honda E, all without folding the seats down.

2020 Honda e LT with Taco Bell

Obviously, a stop to recharge was going to be needed, both on the way there and when we returned. However, thanks to there being rapid chargers along the route, we were stationary for less than half an hour on each occasion, and used the time for entirely necessary fast food binges.

In other words, the Honda E is perfectly capable of doing longer distances, as long as you plan ahead and aren't in too much of a hurry; I found the range drops to around 85 miles on the motorway, unless you restrict your top speed to around 60mph, while the most I ever saw on the instrument panel was 120 miles, during a very gentle run on traffic-strewn A and B roads.

So, the range isn’t great, it's expensive and rivals have bigger boots, yet I still find myself drawn to the Honda E. It feels like a thoroughly well-engineered, well-thought out and good to drive car. It won't suit everyone, but I suspect it'll be loved by those it does.

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