Honda e:Ny1 reader test team

The best way to find out if you’ll gell with a prospective new car is to try it out for an extended period. Six What Car? readers do just that with Honda’s small electric SUV...

Honda eny1 reader test team

It can take time to find out if a car will suit your lifestyle, especially if it’s powered by something you haven’t experienced before. So, in this first extended Reader Test Team event, we invited six readers to spend a week with the new Honda e:Ny1 electric SUV, using it for shopping and local trips, as well as commuting and days out with family and friends.

On sale since late last year, the e:Ny1 is Honda’s second pure electric model (after the now-discontinued Honda E hatchback). Similar in size to the brand’s hybrid HR-V, it’s a rival to the Kia Niro EV, Smart #1 and Volvo EX30.

The e:Ny1 comes with a 201bhp electric motor that drives the front wheels and gives it enough oomph to complete the 0-62mph sprint in 7.2sec. Its official range is up to 256 miles, although around 190 miles is more likely in real-world use, according to our tests.

Honda eny1 reader test team

Replenishing its 61.9kWh (usable capacity) battery from 10-80% via a public rapid charger will take about 45 minutes, at a peak rate of 78kW. A 0-100% charge using a 7kW home wallbox should take around 10 hours.

Prices start at £39,995 for Elegance trim, which comes with heated front seats, keyless entry and a digital instrument panel. Range- topping Advance trim (the spec of our readers’ cars) adds a heated steering wheel, electric tailgate, a panoramic glass roof and other luxuries and is priced at £42,195.

All of our readers are considering an electric car soon, but none has owned one yet. Would they like living with the e:Ny1, or would it prove too futuristic? We asked them to rate their cars in three areas – driving, interior and practicality – and give an overall score (out of five). 

Peter Cowen

Honda eny1 reader test team

Job Retired

Age 69

Drives Ford Puma ST, Porsche Cayman

“Driving the e:Ny1 for a week has really made me rethink my opinion of electric vehicles [EVs]. I assumed that the additional weight from the battery would affect performance; I expected them to be heavy and sluggish, but the e:Ny1 has excellent acceleration and braking. In fact, I felt confident enough to really explore its ability on some quiet, open stretches of road.

“It’s just a shame that it leans in corners quite a bit, because that diminished an otherwise inspiring driving experience.

“I also found it interesting to try out the strongest regenerative braking setting [which makes the car slow down faster when you lift off the accelerator while harvesting energy]. It wasn’t annoying to use and encouraged greater awareness of green driving techniques.

“The interior is made from high-quality materials that look like they will last well, but I was surprised to find that my car lacked electric adjustment for the front passenger seat.

“The glass roof is a great way of letting light into the car and showing off the interior. My car had removable panels above the rear seats to let even more light in; these can be stored in a bag under the boot floor, but they do take up quite a bit of space.

“Having the charging port in the middle of the front grille is sensible, because it means the car doesn’t have to be reversed into charging bays, and accessing the port is easy whether you’re in the UK or abroad.

“It’s a shame the e:Ny1 doesn’t have extra storage space under the bonnet, and I didn’t find the boot large enough for a set of golf clubs. Having a sliding rear bench or flip-up ‘magic’ seats would really improve versatility.

“However, being able to adjust the opening height of the tailgate was handy; I could set it low enough for my wife to reach, because she is shorter than me.

“I was disappointed to see how fast the predicted range dropped compared with the mileage I’d actually covered. The range indicator should be more accurate to stop owners suffering from range anxiety.” 

Driving 4/5

Interior 4/5

Practicality 3/5

Overall 3/5

Anthony Underwood

Honda eny1 RTT

Age 73 

Job Retired 

Drives Mini hatchback, 1967 MG Roadster

“I found the e:Ny1 very relaxing to drive. I thought it had good body control and was quiet at higher speeds, with more than enough power to cope well with motorways and rural roads. The car felt very well engineered, and the only intrusion into the calm was an audible whine at low speeds, which is necessary to let pedestrians know the car is there.

“Overall, the interior was well presented and I found the infotainment screen easy to use, although I would have preferred more physical controls for functions such as the air conditioning. My only criticism is that, in this price bracket, I’d expect there to be more plush- looking, matt surfaces and less shiny plastic.

“The car was very roomy, with plenty of space for four adults. We took a couple of friends out in the car and I was impressed that we had no trouble fitting a pair of 6ft 4in men in the front and rear seats, one behind the other.

“There seems to be a bit of a trade-off with boot space, though, because it is rather small for
a car of this size and wouldn’t accommodate our golf trolley. Some form of adjustment for the rear seats would probably have improved this

“The e:Ny1 is an attractive car, and I like the fact that it is quite conservative looking rather than being too futuristic, like some electric vehicles. I also like the fact that it appears to be a cross between an SUV and an estate, although I would have preferred a slightly higher driving position.

“I didn’t visit any public rapid chargers, because I was able to top up the battery sufficiently at home each night to power it for my local drives.

“However, we travel to France and Scotland each year, and I’d prefer to have a petrol or hybrid model for long journeys like those, so I would only view the e:Ny1 as a second car. But it is a good proposition on that basis.”

Driving 4/5

Interior 3/5

Practicality 4/5

Overall 4/5

Martin Franklin

Honda eny1 RTT

Age 59

Job Headteacher 

Drives Toyota C-HR, Toyota Yaris

“I really like the refreshing, understated looks of the e:Ny1; some electric SUVs are trying too hard in terms of style, relying on creases and other dramatic bodywork to stand out, and it’s good that the Honda has clean, simple lines.

“I was impressed with the smooth, strong performance from the electric motor, and I thought the ride was firm but comfortable. At 6ft 4in tall, I can struggle to find a comfortable driving position in some cars, but this wasn’t an issue in the e:Ny1; the seat and steering wheel both had plenty of adjustment.

“The car generally felt robust and well put together, and I thought the infotainment touchscreen was clear and quite intuitive to use, with a high- esolution display. The only slight disappointment with the trim was the use of some harder plastics on the top of the dashboard.

“There was plenty of room for adults in the car, and lots of useful storage cubbies. I was impressed that there was enough room for me to sit comfortably in the back seat behind the driver without my knees brushing the front seat. The e:Ny1 was far roomier in the back than our C-HR.

“The boot, although not huge, was usefully deep, and it was handy to have an underfloor storage space for the charging cables.

“A limiting factor for us is range. When we collected the car in Bracknell, we drove to Cardiff, but I then had to go to a meeting in Swansea, and there wasn’t enough charge left for me to do this without stopping on the way.

“It’s a shame that the real-world range doesn’t match the official figure; the car was registering just 175 miles on a full charge, and that meant I needed to charge it up every night to be sure I had enough range for my daily 90-mile commute.

“Charging would have been much easier with a home wallbox, rather than using a three-pin plug, but the length of my commute now makes me wonder if going fully electric is feasible at present. It has made us consider swapping the C-HR for the hybrid HR-V instead, though.

“The purchase price is also a concern; as a private buyer, I’d be concerned the car might suffer from steep depreciation.”

Driving 4/5

Interior 4/5

 Practicality 3/5

Overall 4/5

David Bristow 

Honda eny1 RTT

Age 66

Job IT consultant 

Drives BMW 340i, Skoda Octavia Estate

“My first impressions of the e:Ny1 were really good. It felt really nippy and like a car of the future ought to. It was well suited to town driving, with good access and great visibility from the high driving position, and the regenerative braking was effective at slowing the car down without having to use the brakes much.

“However, the suspension is a bit crashy and the steering is lighter than I’m used to. Nor
did I like the whine from the electric motor or the plethora of warning bongs you get while you’re driving, but I appreciate the latter are safety aids.

“The front end is really striking and projects more personality than many other electric cars, but the rear end is fairly bland; the designers should have made it look more distinctive.

“The interior is roomy and bright, and build quality is impressive throughout. I liked the configurable head-up display on the windscreen, and the 360deg camera is excellent for parking.

“The sat-nav was clear and easy to use, but I wasn’t impressed with other aspects of the infotainment system. There was too much information on the screen and, with no dial controller, it was fiddlier to operate than the system in my BMW.

“The electrical side of things worked well, though. The battery indicator changes colour to let you know the car is charging, and topping up the battery at home was straightforward.

“I was surprised at how much using the air-con dented the overall range, though. It does make me wonder if the car would benefit from having a heat pump [to warm up the interior more efficiently in cold conditions].

“My biggest reservation is the price. For this sort of money, a car really needs to stand out in at least one area, and although the e:Ny1 does everything competently, it doesn’t have a massive range or anything else that makes you feel it’s worth its relatively high price.

“It’s 90% of a great car that is let down by shortcomings in a number of areas.”

Driving 3/5

Interior 4/5

Practicality 4/5

Overall 3/5

Nicholas Bernier

Honda eny1 RTT

Age 73

Job Retired

Drives Mini Cooper S

“The e:Ny1 looks similar to the hybrid-only HR-V and ZR-V models, and its appearance is distinctive and quite stately. The standard tyres look a little lost in those big wheelarches, though.

“This was my first experience of driving a fully electric vehicle [EV] and an SUV, but I soon felt confident behind the wheel. Acceleration was instantaneous and, accompanied by a quiet whine from the motor, it provided enough power to make overtaking and joining motorways simple.

“Low-speed control when manoeuvring and parking was good, with light but accurate steering. The ride at lower speeds was a bit lumpy, though, and there was more tyre and wind noise at motorway speeds than I’d expected.

“Despite the absence of adjustable lumbar support, the driver’s seat and steering wheel had plenty of adjustment and proved comfortable even for longer drives. The graphics on the driver’s instrument panel are clear, but there is too much information packed onto it, making it feel cluttered.

“I wasn’t expecting to be impressed by the driver assistance and safety aids, but the Honda Sensing package was well integrated and it had some helpful features, such as showing me the other vehicles around me on dual carriageways.

“I mostly charged the car via a three-pin plug socket in my garage, which worked fine, although I’ll invest in a faster- charging wallbox when I buy an electric car.

“I was disappointed at the shortage of rapid chargers in our part of Hampshire that can be used by the public, but I eventually found some at a Lidl supermarket about four miles from home, and the experience of topping up the battery there was straightforward.

“Living with the e:Ny1 has reassured me that I’ll be happy owning an EV, and I’ll probably replace the Mini with one as our second car. However, we have relatives in Dunfermline, Scotland, whom we visit a couple of times a year, and I would rather buy a hybrid for doing those journeys, because I don’t relish the need to plan charging stops in advance, especially because you need a Plan B and Plan C, just in case your first charging option doesn’t work out.”

Driving 4/5

Interior 5/5

Practicality 3/5

Overall 4/5

Keith Lawton 

Honda eny1 RTT

Age 72

Job Retired

Drives BMW 4 Series

“I’d never driven or travelled in an electric vehicle before trying out the e:Ny1, so this was a big learning curve for me.

“Initially, I felt quite daunted by the amount of information displayed on the instrument panel and infotainment screen, but I settled into driving the car after about 45 minutes. The data all turned out to be very helpful.

“I used the adaptive cruise control on the motorway and liked the lane-keeping and speed assistance. The suite of driver assistance systems all made me feel very safe.

“Acceleration was fantastic, and gadgets like the self-parking option were fascinating and good to use. Little touches like the way the door mirror points downwards when you’re reversing into a space was also really helpful.

“It was interesting to play around with the power distribution app on the touchscreen and see how many more miles of range I’d get if I turned the heater off.

“Some practical features were missing, such as adjustable lumbar support for the driver and electric adjustment for the front passenger seat. But space and access were both excellent. We drove from Herefordshire to South Gloucestershire to take our grandson out for the day and found it really easy to get his child seat and him in and out.

“Although the boot wasn’t big enough for our golf clubs, they fitted neatly behind the front seats – a good compromise.

“This was my first experience of using public charging points. I tried an InstaVolt one at a motorway services and got a 60% top-up of the battery in 45 minutes. As expected, charging up at home was much slower, but it was fine for top-ups between shorter journeys.

“Overall, I was extremely impressed with the e:Ny1. It’s a great-looking car that elicited compliments from friends and passers-by; one even stopped us so he could photograph it. It will be a hard act to follow for the other electric cars I’m aiming to try in the future.”

Driving 5/5

Interior 5/5

Practicality 5/5

Overall 5/5

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