ON THE ROAD- IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE HONDA E
It’s refreshing to report on a car that is different in many ways, one that brings the future right now- in this case, the Honda e. Okay, the little EV from this Japanese carmaker will not win any award in the beauty stakes; in fact it reminds me of a car from an earlier era, the Mini Clubman. Step inside though, and it is like no other car I have ever driven; this is one which will have huge appeal to people who have their focus on things digital.
Right away for me, there is only one disappointment and that is the range, which puts it firmly in the place as a city car, which I must add that it is where it excels. The manufacturer quotes a range of 220km (137 miles). Alas, I fell far short of that, achieving a mere 150km (93 miles). For my personal needs, that would rule me out. However as my week with the Honda e rolled out, I really came to like this little number and despite its lack of styling somehow people did notice and comment. One of its many surprises for a car of such modest dimensions, it has excellent comfort and handling and with its small turning circle it was so manoeuvrable.
Honda predicts that by 2030, the development of cars will be centred around three-pillars of electrification, automation and connected services and with their e they have already arrived. Drivers are seeking increased connectivity between their car, their everyday electronic devices, and ultimately their lifestyles. The e made its first appeared in concept form in 2017 as the Urban EV. This was followed by the near-production ready Honda e Prototype, which was warmly received at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show and the production-ready car was given its full world premiere at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.
This mini EV features cutting-edge technology and advanced intelligent connectivity to keep you in sync with everyday life and it sets new technology benchmarks in its segment, with intuitive infotainment services and connected apps that seamlessly integrate with modern lifestyle, accessed via the dual touchscreen displays, Honda Personal Assistant artificial intelligence or via the My Honda+ smartphone app. If you are into the latest mobile phone, tablet technology this could just be the mode of transport you have been waiting for. On approaching the e, one immediately notices the absence of wing mirrors; the Side Camera Mirror System replaces conventional side view mirrors, with compact cameras that provide live images to two six-inch screens inside the vehicle and this camera technology, a first in the compact segment, brings significant benefits for safety, aerodynamics and packaging. I found it worked extremely well, even in poor light. This little Honda has the most comprehensive range of driver assistance systems in its class, for ultimate safety when navigating busy streets. Honda’s SENSING enhanced suite of safety features gains three new safety technologies for the Honda e including: Collision Mitigation Throttle Control, which prevents sudden acceleration in either reverse or drive upon starting the car when there is an obstacle in the way; Low Speed Brake Function, which applies emergency braking while driving at low speed; and Lead Car Departure Notification System, which notifies the driver when the car in front has started moving.
Yet another new feature is Honda Parking Pilot, which provides further driver support by monitoring for parking spaces and highlighting on the HMI screens a suitable position to begin assisted parking. At the heart of the e is a high-capacity 35.5 kWh battery with 80% of charge added in just 30 minutes of rapid charging and a unique thermal management system optimises battery range in high and low temperatures, allowing the car to maintain optimal range capability and enabling more frequent rapid DC charges. I did find during my week I did visit a charging point often, which did at times irritate. But all was forgiven as I explored the many features of the e. One friend described the e as like going to the cinema; as when parked, including when charging, you can access ‘My Room’ screen functions using the Honda e’s Wi-Fi hotspot, shifting the car beyond simply being a means of transport. You can watch video content and access the internet on mobile devices or, to elevate the lounge-like experience further, recreate the classic ‘drive-in movie’ experience by accessing content streaming services via the HDMI input in the centre console. The cinematic sound system, which provides a vivid, rich audio accompaniment courtesy of a six-speaker 180-watt sound system, while the Honda e Advance receives an upgraded 376-watt premium audio system, with an external amp, 75-watt subwoofer located under the rear seat, and 45-watt centre speaker added as one of eight speakers for additional sound depth. Now for something completely different, the screens can switch to an aquarium experience or even a Japanese garden scene; this little gem from Honda is so very different from the mainstream. With its quality interior, an array of digital technology it will bring a smile even on the dullest of days.
Thank you Honda for brightening up a week for me in a busy year; alas after seven days we had to part company.