Honda’s hard engineering work has put the Clarity in a good place for this section.

Saving packaging size and weight with the avant-garde powertrain and using such an exotic mix of body materials means it could bring the car in with a kerb weight that looks entirely normal for a near-5m-long saloon, and that presumably would allow it to tune the car for any kind of dynamic character it chose.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Soft, slightly under-damped suspension clunks loudly over the transmission bumps

The one they’ve picked says everything about where they expect to ‘sell’ this car and to whom – because the Clarity feels, by and large, like a typical big, laid-back, US-market four-door to drive.

It’s comfortable, well mannered, assured and easy-going and it responds to a keener driving style much as you might expect of something built for those much more interested in driving sustainably and efficiently than with a bit of vim and vigour.

Where the car departs from that relaxed dynamic type is with a well-weighted steering wheel, with a slightly higher lateral grip level and with marginally better cornering balance than perhaps it needed.

The car doesn’t exactly carve its way through bends, rolling fairly hard, but it carries on gripping and turning at speeds well beyond your expectations, and the weight and good pace of the wheel means you can drive fairly quickly in confidence.

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Of much more import is the comfort and isolation of the car’s ride,  which is good at moderate speeds and on reasonably level surfaces.

The Clarity is no limousine – there’s just a little bit too much noise and edge to the suspension to make it supremely comfy – but it’s certainly comfy around town and on the motorway.

At B-road speeds, Honda’s preference for softer chassis settings does catch up with the car, as it runs out of good close vertical body control through bumps and gulleys – and often without needing to trouble the national speed limit to do so.

Approaching a corner quickly is something a Clarity owner is only ever likely to do by mistake, you would think.

Still, should they do it — or ever need to take evasive manoeuvres at high speed — they’ll be happy to find out that their car is fairly well prepared.

The grip level is better balanced than you might expect it to be, and its adhesion to level tarmac is more than respectable. The car turns in pretty smartly, with reassuring weight in the steering, and rolls a little but not a lot.

From the apex to the exit of the corner, the car leans on its electronics quite hard in order to prevent you from upsetting the front end with too much instant electric motor torque, which, if the ESP system weren’t so effective, it would be easy to do.

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