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Apparently, the average commute in the UK is 23 miles – at least so says Honda in defence of the meagre range of its first all-electric car.
Officially it’s 125 miles, but stray near a motorway and it soon drops – on one cold day we barely topped 70 miles on a full charge.
Which makes range anxiety a very real affliction in this self-proclaimed ‘urban-commuter’.
And that’s a shame, because both in town and out it’s a joyous little machine.
The looks have been barely diluted from the show-stopping concept car, brilliantly balancing retro cues with a forward-thinking design that is clean, unadorned and undeniably cute.
In some ways it’s more like a Mini than BMW’s in-house pastiche of Issigonis’ marvel, with a wide track, a long wheelbase and minimal overhangs giving a surprisingly large amount of internal space. yet relatively compact external dimensions.
Then there’s the bright, youthful interior, which feels beautifully put together in contrast to the flimsy feel of Hondas of old.
Designed, according to Honda, ‘from the inside out’, it is chock-full of charm from its Denim-style seats to the attractive use of timber and the internal mirror screens, channelling images from the door-mounted HD cameras.
They sit at each end of a dash that looks not unlike the boxy design of an early Esprit, until you turn on the ignition to be confronted by a Zen-like Japanese garden or, at the touch of a button, an aquarium!
If this is all starting to sound a bit gimmicky, it’s worth pointing out that it’s pretty good to drive, too.
Despite being hefty, at 1535kg, in ‘Advanced’ spec the e has performance to burn, the instant 232lb ft of thrust more than enough to outpace some iconic hot hatches.
The burst of pace off the line is endlessly entertaining, yet as the speeds climb it runs out of breath before bigger-batteried brethren, and on a twisty B-road it doesn’t feel particularly ‘sporty’ – but then that’s not the point.
It rides and handles tidily, aided by the 50:50 weight distribution achieved by placing the motor in the rear and driving the back wheels.
You can’t help feeling that it naturally continues that evolutionary line.
Honda has committed to making all of its cars electrified by 2025, and has realised that if you are to seduce sceptics with an electric car you have to do more than bolt a battery pack to an existing model; you have to give it a bit of soul.
So while that range means it’s not easy to make a realistic case for the e as a new car, even if you can fast-charge to 80% battery in 30 mins, as a classic (when such considerations become less important) the case becomes rather clearer.
Images: Max Edleston
- Engine single electric motor, 35.5kWh batteries; 151bhp; 232lb ft
- Transmission single-speed auto, RWD
- 0-62mph 8secs
- Top speed 100mph
- Mpg 177 (equivalent)
- Price £29,160