Honda e test, Honda's smartcar




Pushed behind the back by the drastic standards imposed by the European Union, Honda is launching itself like other manufacturers in electric mobility. But to stand out from the flood of new "zero emissions" expected in the coming months, the Japanese manufacturer decided to make original choices, synthesized in this amazing little "e".

While many manufacturers rely on SUVs of varying size with proportional batteries to carry their electric strategy, Honda has chosen the opposite premise: starting from a city car resolutely oriented for use... City. But above all, Honda is betting on technology, design and even some form of luxury with this e, sectors where it was not necessarily expected. Rather than electrify its urban Jazz, efficient but erased, the Japanese brand has gone from a blank sheet to develop an e that is shamelessly inspired by the first Civic of the name.

The lines are clean, without unnecessary lines and without the slightest ounce of aggression. A car that the designers wanted "nice" to attract the sympathy of its users but also users who will cross its path. Even the mirrors have been replaced by cameras integrated with pretty globes so as not to spoil the harmony of the design (and incidentally to cure aerodynamics). And the least we can say is that the car attracts the eyes in the city, sometimes astonished, sometimes admiring. In any case, it leaves no one indifferent.

Loft Spirit

The e is 3.89 meters long, 10 centimetres shorter than a Jazz. A small footprint that perfectly follows its urban positioning and that will allow you to sneak around. Thanks to its 5 doors, access to the 2 rear seats is easier than in some competitors (Fiat 500th, Mini Cooper SE ...). And the 171-litre trunk will be sufficient for the use of active urban dwellers. On the other hand, it is a pity that the back of the seat can only tip over one piece, which reduces the modularity of the Japanese with the skin of sorrow.

A designer choice made to preserve the loft spirit in which this interior was designed; the back seat should remind users of their sofa. In fact, the space is necessarily much smaller than in a sofa, but two medium-sized adults may consider travelling in sufficient comfort. The crisp shapes of the dashboard seem to be inspired by Swedish design, an impression reinforced by the wood imitation inserts of our test car. And the good surprise is that unlike other manufacturers who tend to reduce the quality of materials in the name of hunting kilos on their electric, the interior of the e is excellently crafted wherever the hands and eyes land.

Total screen

The highlight of this interior is of course the dashboard composed of 5 successive screens. The two sides, with a 6-inch diagonal, reflect the image (sharp and bright) of the exterior cameras that act as mirrors while the one facing the driver (8.8'') is obviously devoted to driving information, which one would have liked to customize a little more the display. The most amazing are the two 12.3'' central screens dedicated to navigation and multimedia. While the paths in the menus and sub-menus will require time to adapt, the possibilities are particularly numerous.

Some are useful, such as switching the display of the two slabs with a simple "click" to allow, for example, the passenger to enter the GPS destination more comfortably. Others fall under the gadget such as the customizable wallpaper or the virtual aquarium that feeds the fish. It's no use, but it'll amuse young and old, a bit like tesla's beloved easter eggs. It should also be noted that this new multimedia device incorporates a connected voice assistant capable of recognising natural talk, accessible via an Ok Honda, but whose functionality seemed a little limited. In fact, we can also ask the relevance of this technological debauchery, which will delight the most "geek" buyers but will leave indifferent the more traditional users who may never get lost in the maze of possibilities.

Finally, the center mirror can also be transformed into an on-demand camera to display an unimpeded view of the rear of the vehicle.

Surprising choices

For its e, Honda has developed a brand new platform. The engine is in the rear position, under the trunk floor, which frees up a lot of space in the front and allows a significant turning of the wheels. Result: 8.6 meters is enough to make a half-turn between sidewalks! The battery is integrated into the wheelbase. Compact in size, it offers a modest capacity of 35.5 kWh that allows it to hold 222 kilometers according to the WLTP cycle.

A range that seems quite consistent with the data collected during our test, where we reached 200 km with a single charge, multimedia on and 2 on board (average of about 17 kWh/100 km). An autonomy that supports the fact that the city and the short trips it induces is the favorite playground of this Japanese. The manufacturer reminds us that the average daily journey is less than 50 kilometers! Those who would like to tackle a longer journey will appreciate the compatibility with DC chargers up to 100 KW, allowing to recover 80% of the autonomy in a big half hour.

Efficiency and dynamism

It's the most powerful engine in the Honda e that we've taken in hand. Its 154 horsepower (136 for the entry-level version) and the immediate availability of the 315 Nm are of course enough to give the Japanese smaller one significant performance, including cannon reboots at the green light. But even outside the city limits, the little e retains an amazing fishing. It turns flat - at the cost of a firm cushion without being uncomfortable - and behaves like a big kart, making forget its certain weight: 1,542 kg! It pays the price here for its technology and quality.

Back in town for the Japanese's latest asset: its advanced regeneration device. At deceleration, the energy recovery force can be regulated in real time via the paddles behind the wheel. And a "B" mode optimizes it even more, allowing you to completely do without the brake pedal when you make good use of it. It's effective, and it quickly becomes a form of play when you decide to pay attention to it. Well done!

Tariff exaggeration?

Well now that you've been told all the good we think of this Honda e, let's move on to the subject that annoys: its price! The undeniable sex appeal of the city girl will not be too much to pass the pill of its price: 35,060 for the 136 hp, 3,000 more for the 154 hp! Fortunately, both will benefit from a maximum bonus of 6,000 euros. But in this price range, it will have to face competition from larger and more autonomous models, two criteria that come into play at the time of choice.

Conclusion

Pleasing to the eye, resolutely technological, efficient in its energy management and rewarding on the road: the Honda e has everything from the perfect city car for city dwellers 3.0. The bulk of the work of the salespeople of the brand will probably be to justify the price, particularly severe.

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