The market for compact electric vehicles for urban centers is growing continuously. The Japanese already shone at the IAA with its compact exterior dimensions and attractive design. At first sight it looks like the prototype of a sporty car from the future with a friendly grille. The body appears slick, which is further emphasized by the omission of the exterior mirrors. The use of compact cameras is a successful gimmick in the compact car segment. Once you sit down and experience it, there are even more interesting details.
With the consistently compact design, Honda has broken new ground. The basis is a new platform that is minimalistically geared towards the city car of the future. The battery does not have much space in the car. And with that, the ranges and areas of application are also defined: The urban city runabout for commuting, shopping and for leisure activities in the immediate vicinity. It is deliberately not designed for other purposes, but is uncompromisingly suitable for these disciplines.
In return, it attracts a lot of attention with an appealing design language and interesting accessories. The narrow rear-view mirror cameras, the mischievous radiator grille with the round headlights and the dark plastic inserts embody their own style elements. In the highest level of equipment we tested, Advance, there are also premium paint finishes that are combined with attractive rims. This Honda exudes esprit and charm in the smallest space and is also a feast for the eyes.
There are also a few defining elements in the interior of this vehicle segment. The play of colors on the exterior is contrasted with a finely woven gray fabric on the seats. There are also a few nice accessories such as a fabric case for the smartphone, a tidy touch control for the automatic or a cup holder that can be pulled out with a leather handle. Wood applications on the dashboard and in the center console contribute to a feel-good atmosphere. The band of lined-up displays from the exterior mirror displays to the driving panel and the two infotainment displays looks tidy. Here Honda is still playing with analog and digital controls in parallel. The digital worlds are arranged at the top and the most important analogue switching elements, such as for the air conditioning, are below them.
The seats are a bit too soft for my taste, but since this is mainly for short trips, the plush character was deliberately used like in the traditional living room. Despite the compact dimensions, there is a lot of space in the front Center console falls discreetly between the front seats and there is plenty of empty space in the footwell between the driver and front passenger. The doors to the rear seat are a bit smaller, there is space for up to 3 more passengers. The trunk is relatively compact with a capacity of 171 liters, but the loading area is sufficient for the crates of drinks and the weekly shop.
Plenty of entertainment is provided by the screen surface, which extends at an even height across the entire width of the vehicle and is framed by the two outside mirror screens. The driver and front passenger benefit from the generous layout. You can switch back and forth between the screens for the driver and front passenger. And as usual with smartphones, the apps can also be moved. It's designed to be versatile and user-friendly. The integration of the common operating systems for the smartphone is implemented wirelessly via Apple Carplay and by cable via Android Auto. If you want to take a break from the screen, you can display nature motifs such as cherry blossoms or a bamboo forest.
In addition, additional connections such as HDMI or a 230 V socket, practical for charging functions or connecting a grill, are integrated. Honda has invested a lot of detailed work in the city streamer and convinces with solutions relevant to everyday life.
Digital upgrades at extra cost
Who the compact Honda If you would like to share it with other users, you can book a "Honda Digital Key" for 59 euros per year. With the key, use can be shared with up to five people, which can be used sensibly for flat-sharing communities or families.
Many manufacturers have digital services with special functions booked separately for an additional charge. The "Honda Personal Assistant" is an advanced tool for voice control. The assistant is not only set to predefined phrases, but also tries to correctly interpret everyday speech. When it comes to navigation destinations, you can usually get to the right destination even with ordinary wishes. Voice commands such as "I want to go to the charging station" are then interpreted correctly. The costs are 49 euros per year of use.
Some digital bon mots are integrated into the smartphone app, including the definition of a safety zone as a monitoring area, monitoring of the charging progress or your own route planning.
The Honda e in the city
The optimal space for movement is primarily provided in the city. In addition to the accessories described above, the compact dimensions with a length of 3,90 m and a width of only 1,75 m are the best arguments for being able to win even the tightest parking spaces.
Even when starting at the traffic lights, the city car delivers further arguments for itself with good torque and the 154 hp engine. Quietly, it accepts every sprint with ease and offers a few plus points with its feather-light steering, low center of gravity and good cornering.
Unfortunately, the driving pleasure is also short due to the small 35,5 kWh battery. With mild spring temperatures in the true north of between 10 and 20 degrees after delivery of the test car with 100% charge, activating the air conditioning reduces the distance to just 190 kilometers. We were able to use the estimated range, the consumption leveled off at 17 to 21 kWh. Overall, however, it also depends on many factors such as driving behavior, the selected driving mode and the degree of recuperation.
Why the Honda e is not yet in great demand is also due to the moderate loading times. Neither in the single-phase alternating current charging (AC) with just 6,6 kW nor in the fast charging station (DC) with a maximum charging current of 56 kW does it fall behind in the field of compact Premium Stromers. That clouds the consistently appealing performance and comfort features a little.
This allows the user groups for the small Honda e to be clearly defined. If you can use a wall box in the carport or in the garage, you have the advantage of being able to fully charge the battery overnight and use the full range in a relaxed manner. And with it all commuting routes, shopping and leisure activities in the urban environment can be easily reached.
In the luxury class segment for compact electric vehicles, the Honda has to compete with established competitors such as the BMW Mini, the Fiat 500e and the new Smart. The competition never sleeps and offers significantly more customization in the premium segment. Therefore, with the high price of 39.900 euros gross in the configurator, the customers who appreciate a very individual design will probably be primarily addressed. The list of optional extras is currently limited to a leather package, visual upgrades and premium paint finishes.
Design and the reduction to the essentials characterize the Honda e in the city as an individualist with a very high level of functionality. In the long term, the loading functions should probably also be raised to the premium level with the next upgrade. This will then address an even larger group of customers.
Test in summer 2023
How do you like the compact Honda e?
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