When the Honda Urban EV Concept made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017, there was a good chance that anyone who looked upon for long enough, in person or via photographs, would cock their head slightly and let out a ‘awwwh’, even if only internally.
The hatch’s corners were rounded in all ways possible for a car to be yet retained a structured, almost squared stance that reminded us of the original Volkswagen Golf, most of all. It presented the world with a friendly and accessible face to personal zero emissions transportation.
It’s an idea that was so rarely explored previously. Early EVs were always styled to look futuristic, perhaps overly so. As time went on and fully electric cars are more widely adopted, it could be argued that cars like the Tesla Model S have gone too far to looking like a present-day five seat combustion-powered car, albeit a high end one.
The Honda e is like a little eco puppy, and for that reason alone we were very happy to hear that the company was bringing the car to production. Like a spritely young mutt, the car comes with rather peppy performance, more than enough to zip through the city - where the designed to thrive, even fitting standard rear-facing cameras in place of side mirrors to trim its overall width.
Via its single electric motor mounted on the rear axle, the e puts an impressive 110kW and over 300Nm onto to road. Honda has also engineered the car to be exceptionally agile with an equal 50/50 weight distribution by carefully spreading the 35.5kWh lithium ion battery array along the EV platform, four wheel independent suspension, it even has a Sport Mode and, at least in these shots, is wearing Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres instead of more efficient low rolling resistance numbers.
Its four wheels pushed out far towards the corners also helps matters, but also ensures that the e could house the largest cabin possible given its relatively petite dimensions. Arrive at a location with a fast charging bay and Honda claims the e has a total range over 200km, while just 30 minutes spent plugged in is all that’s needed to reach 80 percent charge capacity.
While that sounds like plenty to distance to cover, especially if restricted to city driving, the Honda’s boasts of range does feel shaky next to its closest competitors such as the Hyundai Kona Electric (450km from a 64kWh battery) and the Renault Zoe (380km from a 52kWh battery), and the same goes for its Nissan Leaf counterpart.
Like the Leaf and Zoe, the Honda e’s acceleration and most of its real-world deceleration will be done with a single pedal. The ‘accelerator’ will increase he car’s speed as you’d expect it to the more it is depressed, though releasing its travel will cause the regenerative braking system to engage, slowing the car down.
That said, though its thick square footprint might gives it a certain presence, the Honda e is really a car for personal use within urban environs, emphasising the effective use of recovered braking, with the hatch designed to accommodate two occupants at a time. There are useable rear seats, of course, but this isn’t meant to be a family car or particularly practicality-minded.
In addition to its home market, the Japanese automaker plans to tackle key European after the car’s launch later this year. Prior to that, the car will be making an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK, which kicked off yesterday, along with the bookings.