Honda e (2021) in the test: the future in the past tense

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Does the small electric car really belong in the premium segment?

Honda e (2021) in the test: the future in the past tense-test

Honda has so far been more of a hybrid car, but the Japanese know that electric cars are important. The first model to be launched was the Honda e, a small car from the premium segment. As a main competitor, Honda is clearly taking the Mini Cooper SE targeted. The Honda e is only supposed to be the beginning of an electric offensive. A second model will follow next year. In the meantime we have tested the Honda e in and around Valencia.

Design: neo and retro at the same time

We already knew the Honda e looked good, and we had also admired the modern interior before the test. That first impression was unchanged when we got behind the wheel. Honda has opted for flowing shapes that are unmistakably reminiscent of the first generation Civic: black grille, round lights and a rather angular profile.

Honda e (2021) in the test: the future in the past tense-tense Honda e (2021) in the test: the future in the past tense-test

With the round headlights, Honda takes on the past, but does not deny the present either. This is how a neo-retro design stands out. There is also a noticeable, glossy black "grill", which is shown in a similar shape at the rear. At the front there is also an insert on the bonnet, also painted black, behind which the charging port is hidden. The wheels also pick up the black tint, while the spokes are gray.

Honda e (2021) in the test: the future in the past tense-test

Five displays as standard

The Honda e has the same neo-retro look inside. But what impresses most are the screens that stretch across the entire width of the cockpit. There are no fewer than five screens in the Honda e, and they come as standard! The instruments are designed as a display, followed by two screens in the middle and the monitors for the images from the external cameras are located at both ends. So many monitors may seem excessive to some, but this enormous array of displays is easy to use.

The rest of the interior with the gray fabric seats is also in retro style. At first glance, the materials on the headliner don’t look very high quality, but the fabric is very well made and harmonises perfectly with the wood under the monitors and in the console between the seats. The lack of a traditional dashboard is surprising. But this decision leads to a good feeling of space.

And that’s not just an illusion, the interior space is really good. This will come as no surprise to regular Honda customers, as the packaging is one of the brand’s strengths. This also benefits the Honda e, which offers enough space for two adults in the rear. You need to bend your legs a little, but the amount of space is acceptable. Two to three bags and suitcases fit easily in the trunk:

Honda e (2021) in the test: the future in the past tense-honda

Driving impressions from the 113 kW version

But how does the car drive? We got behind the wheel of the 113 kW (154 hp) Advance version with 17-inch wheels, which offers 205 kilometers of range – a little less than the 222 kilometers of the basic variant, which has 100 kW (136 hp) of power 16 inch wheels.

Power / torque Battery / range price
Honda e 100 kW / 315 Nm 36 kWh / 222 km 33,850 euros
Honda e Advance 113 kW / 315 Nm 36 kWh / 205 km 38,000 euros

The interior mirror can be used in two ways in the Advance variant, because the display of the image from the reversing camera can simply be deactivated. The picture is a bit irritating, but it may be an advantage in the dark or in bad weather.

Honda e (2021) in the test: the future in the past tense-tense Honda e (2021) in the test: the future in the past tense-tense

The central screen is a little too small for the navigation system with its large amount of information. So the navigation system sometimes looks confusing and it is a little too slow. The system looked a lot more convincing on the Civic’s slightly larger screen. The two displays in the middle for the driver and front passenger are very practical as they can be switched at any time. For example, the front passenger can select a navigation destination on his display and simply send it to the other central screen.

At 1,545 kilos, the tested version was not exactly light. Still, the Honda e feels sleek and agile. The handling is also good. The 50:50 weight distribution and the very low center of gravity give the Honda e agility. This is also reflected in the turning radius of 4.3 meters. So the little Japanese can turn around and can be easily circled into the parking space. Parking is also made easier by an extraordinary parking assistant: It not only takes over the steering as usual, but also accelerates and brakes.

The acceleration is linear and quite convincing, which can also be seen in the sprint time of 8.3 seconds. The accelerator pedal responds quickly in sport mode. However, this mode has one disadvantage: the range drops quickly when you use it. The radius of action can be increased by an economical driving style without reducing the driving pleasure.

Honda e (2021) in the test: the future in the past tense-test Honda e (2021) in the test: the future in the past tense-future

One Pedal Driving: Good for driving fun and range

Speaking of driving fun and economy: We didn’t try to be economical in our test, because the pleasure that this car offers on the road is something that people like to be captivated by. Nevertheless, it was clearly visible that the one-pedal driving system significantly increased the range. The car slows down significantly when you let go of the accelerator pedal.

You can select the strength of the delay between 0.04 and 0.10 g via rockers on the steering wheel. Even at 0.1 g, the brake lights are not activated, so they do not come into action if you just take the gas off. However, if you decide to use the one-pedal driving system, you can set three delay levels, from 0.10 to 0.184 g. In this case, the car brakes to a stop when you let go of the pedal. This mode is a great help in the city.

On the country road and on the autobahn, it takes a while to get used to the fact that you brake when you take off the gas. Once you have adjusted to it and operate the accelerator more carefully, driving becomes more pleasant. And the system also works wonders for power consumption: While we struggled to get below 18 kWh / 100 km without One Pedal Driving, the average with the helper quickly fell to 15 kWh / 100 km. After a while, we were even close to falling below 14 kWh / 100 km. So the system is good for driving fun and range.

Conclusion

A base price of just under 34,000 euros for a small car is of course a word. Especially since the stated range of 222 km makes the Honda e practically a pure city car. The advance version even costs 38,000 euros.

At first glance, the base price, which is hefty, is not exaggerated when you look at what you get for it. The configuration is easy, because everything is standard, including the camera mirror, five screens, the navigation system and the reversing camera, but also heated seats, sensor-controlled tailgate, cruise control, panoramic roof and many assistance systems. A technically less complex version is not planned, as project manager Takahiro Shinya told us. So the Honda e is what it is, it is a complete package. And one that is fun and offers a lot of technology.

Honda e

engine Electric motor

power 100 kW / 136 PS (Advance: 113 kW / 154 PS)

Max. Torque 315 Nm

drive Rear wheel drive

Gear type Automatic entrance

battery 35.5 kWh (lithium-ion technology)

consumption 17.2 kWh / 100 km

Electric range 222 km (Advance: 205 km)

Charging port up to 6.6 kW AC via type 2 port, up to 56 kW DC via CCS port

Charging time 30 min (10-80%) with direct current

Acceleration 0-100 km / h 9.0 sec. (Advance: 8.3 sec.)

Top speed 145 km / h

length 3,894 mm

broad 1,752 mm

height 1,512 mm

Number of seats 4th

Trunk volume 171-861 liters

Empty weight 1,518 (Advance: 1,545 kg)

Base price 33,850 euros (advance: 38,000 euros)

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