Honda e – a cute electric car with 150 PS, over 300 Nm

Honda has released more details and images of the Honda e prototype as selected media got to sample the electric car on a circuit. It’s less capable in terms of range than existing EVs in the market, yes, but the Honda e is cute and desirable. Fun to drive and agile too – that’s the message.

The quoted range of “over 200 km” doesn’t sound like much in today’s landscape, but should be still adequate as an urban runabout. For context, the larger, crossover-bodied Hyundai Kona Electric comes with two powertrain options – a 39.2 kWh version with a 300 km range and a long-range 64 kWh model with up to 470 km of range. The recently-revealed new Renault Zoe supermini is good for 390 km on the WLTP cycle, from a 52 kWh battery.

Honda is betting that the e’s range is good enough for city car users. It harps on an “exceptional driving experience in urban environments, with an outstanding blend of highly responsive dynamics, efficiency and performance.” The company’s new EV promises “unrivalled fun-to-drive characteristics and usability to the compact electric car segment.”

“If you really want to cover all the requirements possible from a customer perspective, then you need to provide a car with a bigger range, but that would bring a lot of drawbacks we believe are somewhat nonsense,” Honda e project leader Kohei Hitomi told Autocar.

“It would make the car unnecessarily bigger, heavier and more expensive and would also mean it suffers in terms of charging performance. We believe that this size and range is the best balance in terms of overall manoeuvrability and dynamic performance for size and charging,” he added.

Honda has now revealed that the e will be powered by an electric motor delivering up to 150 PS and torque in excess of 300 Nm. The water-cooled 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery is positioned on the floor of the car, centrally within its wheelbase. This contributes to a low centre of gravity (around 50 cm from the ground) and 50:50 weight distribution. Honda also says that the battery is one of the most compact in its class.

The Honda e can be charged using either a Type 2 AC connection or a CCS2 DC rapid charger, which is a more universal choice compared to the CHAdeMO method Japanese EVs usually prefer. Fitting, since the Honda e is set to be a global car and will be marketed in Europe as well. DC rapid charging will provide 80% charge in 30 minutes.

The central charging port is on the bonnet, just above the front Honda logo and it includes at-a-glance LED indication of charging status, visible through a glass panel. Displays on the dual touchscreens inside the car present the current level of battery charge, while a drivetrain graphic charts the current power flow and the regeneration and recharging status.

By the way, the e is rear-wheel-drive, which Honda says help deliver a sporty character and enables greater steering articulation for the front wheels. The car’s turning radius is just 4.3 metres. With a wide yet compact footprint and short overhangs at both ends, the e delivers an optimal balance of stability and handling to the compact EV segment, Honda says.

The low CoG and planted stature of the Honda e allows body roll to be managed without stiffly-sprung suspension. Honda engineers benchmarked the ride quality of the car against larger cars, utilising a four-wheel independent McPherson strut design.

The larger cars are D-segment ones. “Because of the cost and high value, we set targets for D-category levels of ride comfort and vibration. Just beating other electric cars was not enough, whether for performance, comfort or vibration,” assistant project leader Takahiro Shinya told Autocar.

The EV will also offer Single Pedal Control, which enables the driver to accelerate and slow the car using only the accelerator pedal. When the accelerator pedal is released, automatic regenerative braking will occur, and that will slow the car. The Nissan Leaf also has such a function. A Sport Mode improves acceleration response.

The Honda e is a key part of the brand’s strategy to feature electrified powertrains in all cars it sells in Europe by 2025. The production version will be unveiled later this year and customers can make priority ordering online now in the UK, Germany, France and Norway.

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