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Honda e Advance
Click to view picture gallery“Its beguilingly cool, tech-rich, and
  runs purely on zero-emissions
  electric
Hondas first all-electric car
  is a scrummy-scrumptious machine
  for the
green driver...”


DRIVEN BY AN ELECTRIC MOTOR at the back axle the Honda e's rear wheels do the pushing rather than, as is the norm today, the front wheels doing the pulling. But it's all very good news for the handling, which also benefits from the e's lithium-ion batteries being mounted low down in the floorpan where they contribute to the e's low centre of gravity.

Fitted between the rear-drive e's front and rear axles, the low-set batteries also facilitate the e's 50:50 weight distribution. A major bonus of this is that the e's steering isn't corrupted by its front wheels having to steer as well as lay the power down on the road. Further boosting its fun-to-drive nature (honestly, even hardcore petrolheads will love driving this uber-agile EV) is an amazingly tight turning circle, one that's on par with a London Black Cab, enabling the e to turn, as the saying goes, on a sixpence.

There are two versions:
the Honda e with 134bhp
and the e Advance with
a brawnier 152bhp.
The 134bhp version is
good for an official range
of 137 miles with
0-62mph in 9 seconds;
the 152bhp model covers
131 miles on a full
charge but gets to sixty-
two quicker, in 8.3
seconds.
Either is more than
speedy enough.
If you really like to feel
the hit, a Sport mode
intensifies the sensation
of effortlessly punching
forward that is the
lovable hallmark of
torque-rich, pure electric
powertrains
...”
While the e's battery pack has a modest 35.5kWh capacity in keeping with its 3.9-metre-nose-to-tail city car footprint, given its town-friendly intentions that's more than an adequate sufficiency. A big 'plus' is that an 80% battery charge can be achieved in just 31 minutes using a 100kW fast charger which, given the e Advance's official 131-mile range on a full charge, shouldn't trigger any range anxiety.

Using a home charger will see the same 0-80% replenishment done and dusted in four hours. Of course, there may be times when you want to leave the cityscape behind and venture beyond the ever-increasing (and ever-depressing) 20mph zones. Which is why we decided to spend our test week driving around the countryside near Rye on the South Coast to see just how user-friendly the e is out of its perceived comfort zone. We found it regularly topped out at a trustworthy 119+ miles when fully charged; reassuring for worry-free city breaks in reverse.

Pressing the Single Pedal button lets you enjoy one-pedal driving — this effectively transforms the accelerator into a Stop-Go switch. Ease off the throttle and the regenerative braking cuts in impressively smoothly, quickly slowing the e almost all the way down to a complete stop. Good to know, too, that the brake lights come on automatically to alert the driver behind. While one-pedal driving is relaxing, it is best used in 20mph zones.

When driving in the default two-pedal autobox mode the paddle-shifters on the steering wheel allow you to adjust, on the fly, the intensity of the lift-off regular regenerative braking — something that's particularly useful for extra control (just like so-called engine braking on a traditional petrol/diesel engine) when you're carving through the twisty bits on quicker roads or descending steep hills.

Making logical work of selecting R, N, or D drive mode settings are easy-peasy individual push-to-select buttons, sited between the front seats atop the wood trimmed central tunnel console. These supersede a traditional selector lever; something more and more carmakers are switching to and which in the Honda e works faultlessly.

Powerwise, the Honda e has all the oomph you'll ever need. There are two versions: the e with 134bhp and the e Advance with a brawnier 152bhp. Both serve up the same 'instant' 232lb ft of torque. The 134bhp version is good for an official range of 137 miles with 0-62mph in 9 seconds; the 152bhp model covers 131 miles on a full charge but gets to sixty-two quicker, in 8.3 seconds. Either is more than speedy enough for a supermini. If you really like to feel the hit, there's a Sport mode which intensifies the sensation of effortlessly punching forward that is the lovable hallmark of torque-rich, pure electric powertrains.

As stylishly eye-catching as the Honda e is externally, inside it's a real cool cat — airy, boldly hi-tech and engagingly refined, all underscored by first-class build quality. Attractive wood trim, coordinating brown seatbelts, and light grey salt 'n' pepper textured fabric upholstery together create a chilled-out 'living space' where you can completely relax. Even before you swing open a door, you'll have spotted the wall-to-wall screen-rich dash.

The full-cabin-width array is composed of several hi-def touchscreens tiled horizontally across the fascia. In addition to a digital instrument panel ahead of the driver there are two large touchscreens placed side by side in the centre of the dash for the infotainment and SatNav, with another display at each end of the fascia serving up the feed from the door camera pods that replace traditional door mirrors. About these: we thought we would need time to acclimatise to these digital door mirrors but the larger, better, and undistorted view they provide is perfect from the very first glance. Yet another benefit: they also considerably reduce the rear blindspots.

As stylishly eye-
catching as the Honda e
is externally, inside it’s
a real cool cat — airy,
boldly hi-tech and
engagingly refined, all
underscored by first-
class build quality.
Attractive wood trim,
coordinating brown
seatbelts, and light grey
salt ’n’ pepper textured
fabric upholstery
together create a chilled-
out ‘living space’ where
you can completely
relax...”
The screens work flawlessly and are foolproof to use. For instance, the Honda CONNECT content on the central pair of 12.3-inch touchscreens can be switched between them on demand. So, if you want the Android Auto/Apple CarPlay screen closer to the steering wheel then you can simply swap this content with the SatNav/live mapping showing on the other screen. This flexibility means that the front passenger can also use the screen nearest to them without distracting the driver.

Rather not see anything for a while? Fine; call up a soothing wallpaper (when stationary this can be a live action aquarium scene). If you're stopping for a while to, say, collect the kids from school, you can easily catch up on a boxset or plug in a games console (a built-in domestic three-pin plug socket and an HDMI input port are standard) and game-on. In the Honda e it's a case of: 'It's your life, you choose'.

For the record, the first-class navigation set-up is a Garmin system and there's also a FM/DAB digital radio, internet radio, Aha app, Bluetooth hands-free phone, a total of four USB ports, hands-free phone operation with a voice control system, and an emergency SOS system.

The driver's digital instrument display behind the smart two-spoke multifunction steering wheel presents all the driving information you need using sharp, easy-to-read graphics. When driving any EV the range status is paramount — thankfully the Honda e's range is always clearly on show as too is the ability to instantly search for and be guided to the nearest charging station.

The driving position itself, and visibility from behind the steering wheel, is excellent, boosted by the greenhouse's large windows and 'wide view' windscreen. The nicely 'plumped' and accommodating (and three-stage heated) seats benefit from understated but effective side bolstering that keeps you in situ even when zipping round those infuriatingly teensy roundabouts created by city planners to torment motorists. More good news: even with the height-adjustable driver's seat jacked up there's still a fist of headroom, along with masses of legroom and plenty of space around each seat. Height-adjustable belts and large front doors further improve everyday ease of use.

The e Advance model is comprehensively equipped and comes with a wealth of 'goodies' — from the headline-grabbing full-width multi-screen infotainment set-up, digital camera 'wing mirrors', and a semi-autonomous 'parking pilot' that can spot parking spaces and then park in one for you, to practical stuff such as Smart (keyless) entry and start, nifty pop-out door handles, premium audio (8 speakers including subwoofer and dedicated hardware amplifier), frameless dual function auto-dimming rearview mirror (normal or digital camera mode), heated multifunction steering wheel, all one-shot power windows, rear privacy glass, and a set of distinctive 17-inch alloy wheels.

Also included is an excellent reversing camera offering both overhead and multiple angle views, parking sensors front and rear, an electronic parking brake with auto-hold, large electric glass sunroof with sliding 'blackout' sun blind, and ambient lighting.

Safety is equally comprehensive with a Collision Mitigation Brake System, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot alerts (in the digital door mirror screens), Cross Traffic Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, Lead Car Departure Notification, Intelligent Speed Limiter, Road Departure Mitigation, Traffic Sign Recognition, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, automatic dip/main beam switching, drive-away automatic door locking, a rear wash/wipe, and windscreen de-icing.

Another real eye-opener
is the Honda e’s ride.
It’s awesome; notably
so for a small car.
The nicely fettled
suspension is well
damped, and even severe
bumps and ruts are
soaked up without fuss
or noise.
And, for a car likely to
spend much of its life
rolling over town and
city blacktop with its
inescapable ruts
and potholes, that’s
really good news...”
With two belts and two headrests, the surprisingly commodious rear cabin offers genuine comfort for two — a brace of adults can travel socially without ever encroaching on each other's personal space. Foot-room is fine thanks to the minimalist central floor tunnel and there's decent knee-room and sufficient headroom.

Importantly, those travelling in the back will feel as well cared for as those ahead of them while enjoying fine views out through the large frameless windows; there are even great views to be had looking forward between the widely spaced front seatbacks. The sofa-style rear bench and backrest are generously padded and features such as perfectly-sited reading spots, generous storage pouches on the front seatbacks, USB charging ports, and cup/bottle holders help take the strain out of even long journeys.

Another real eye-opener is the Honda e's ride. It's awesome; notably so for a small car. The nicely fettled suspension (a MacPherson strut at each corner) is well damped, and even severe bumps and ruts are soaked up without fuss or noise. And, for a car likely to spend much of its life rolling over town and city blacktop with its inescapable ruts and potholes, that's really good news.

Not only is the Honda e commendably comfortable to ride in but it handles well, too. Courtesy of a battery pack buried deep in the floorpan (and the resulting low centre of gravity), a perfect 50:50 weight balance, plus its wheel-at-each-corner stance, the Honda e feels confident, grippy, and corners flat. Ably helped by its amazingly tight 4.3-metre turning radius and consequently 'darty' steering, it's exuberantly nimble — punt it through some twisties and it's delightfully unfazed, even though such sporty behaviour is not its primary mission statement.

In town that nippiness is unbeatable if you want to take advantage of every gap, execute slick U-turns that out-do the very best of Fast & Furious, and park up effortlessly in even the tightest of spaces. The brakes, too, deserve a mention in despatches — the pedal is progressive and the braking smooth and feelsome and notably superior to the regenerative kind found in many other hybrid and electric cars.

Given the Honda e's compact dimensions you'd never guess that with the one-piece rear seatback folded down (it sits perfectly flat and level with the boot floor) that there's 861 litres of space for cargo (if you load to the roof); even stacking to the window line you can still tuck away 571 litres.

With all four seats occupied the boot space comes in at 171 litres but you do get some extra room under the floor for oddments or storing the charging cable alongside a tyre repair kit and compressor. Boot/loadbay access is easy thanks to a tailgate that reaches for the sky and there's a lift-up parcel shelf to hide luggage from prying eyes. And, Yes, of course there are bag hooks!

With its bravura looks and uber-cool cabin the Honda e makes a head-turning statement wherever it goes. But it's far more than that because it's also a real joy to drive. Come 2030, life will indeed be great if we're all driving EVs as brilliant as the Honda e. ~ MotorBar
.
Honda e Advance | 36,920
Maximum speed: 90mph | 0-62mph: 8.3 seconds | Range: 131 miles
Power: 152bhp | Torque: 232lb ft | CO2: 0g/km

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