The Honda e is a difficult car to review.
The all-electric city car has so much going for it. Its retro styling is utterly brilliant. The cabin is a work of art. It’s incredible fun to drive.
Its svelte size, instantaneous power delivery and tiny turning circle make it one of the best city cars in the world.
But its range is pretty terrible. Officially it’ll do 125 miles. You’ll certainly get that if you do city driving in summertime.
Low speeds are where electric cars are at their most efficient, while headlights and heater both drain the battery.
Scottish winters really hamper its ability to cover miles, though. I picked the Honda e up from a motoring journalist colleague in Doune on a dark and stormy Friday night in mid-December.
Rain lashed the windows as I made my way along the A90 to Dundee. The wipers and heaters were both on full, and I was streaming music through the stereo.
When I set off the battery was at 96% and 52 miles later it was down to 29%. That suggests a range of around 90 miles in bad weather.
To be fair, that could get me from Dundee to Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Glasgow. The battery charges quickly, too, so as long as I plug it in getting back will be no problem.
Stunning piece of design
As long as you can live with the range the Honda e is an absolutely delightful little car.
Drawing styling cues from the original Civic of the 1970s, it’s a beautifully proportioned and stunning piece of design.
Pushing the wheels right out to the four corners maximises interior space and manoeuvrability – the Honda e has a turning circle of just 4.3 metres.
Neat details like pop-out door handles improve aerodynamics.
Meanwhile, the charging port is cleverly placed in the car’s nose, making it easy to plug in. There aren’t even any wing mirrors. Instead a pair of tiny cameras beam pictures onto screens inside the car.
If you think the exterior is stylish, the interior will really blow you away. Its clean, chic layout is like no other car I’ve driven. Two huge touchscreens sweep across almost the full width of the dash.
A pair of smaller screens at each side display what you’d normally see in the rear view mirrors. Wood trim is used beautifully in the dash and centre console. It’s a wonderful piece of design that put a smile on my face every time I drove the car.
You pay a price for all those design flourishes, though. At around £30,000 once government grants have been factored in it’s more expensive than an electric Kia Soul, which has much more space and nearly double the range.
The Soul lacks the, erm, soul of the Honda e, however. As is the case with Mini, buyers are often happy to pay a premium for a car that oozes style.
Fantastic city car
Zero to 62mph takes just eight seconds and top speed is 100mph. Because power delivery is instantaneous it feels even quicker as well.
The fact the Honda e has a modest 35.5kWh battery makes it very lightweight for an electric car. It has none of the heavy, stodgy feel that most EVs have.
Instead it feels as nimble and fun as any petrol-powered city car. It will zip round roundabouts and dash out of junctions with aplomb.
At just 3.9 metres long and 1.75 metres wide the Honda e is dinky. Honda’s engineers have wrung every ounce of space out of those modest dimensions, though.
Adults will have plenty of room up front and the rear is fine for children. Only the boot space isn’t great, at 171 litres.
For those who live in urban areas or who use public transport for long journeys the Honda e makes huge sense.
It also works perfectly as a second car, with a longer range car for big journeys and the Honda for day-to-day driving.
It certainly won’t suit everyone, but there’s so much to love about the Honda e. It really is one of the best city cars money can buy.
0-62mph: 8 seconds
Top speed: 100mph
Range: 125 miles
CO2 emissions: 0g/km