Honda has waited while the electric car segment has grown. Has it delayed too long?

It seems a slightly strange notion, given how different the design philosophies of these two great companies have appeared to be over the years but, in launching its first really serious battery-electric vehicle, Honda has supposedly followed the example set by the world’s best-known smartphone manufacturer.

According to Honda, the similarities between the new E city car and Apple’s iPhone should be readily apparent. You can be the judge of the veracity of that statement but, says Honda, both products put eye-catching design and seamless functionality in pride of place, and both do so in return for a healthy price premium.

Cutesy round headlights incorporate ring-style daytime-running lights (which light up when you approach) and are the E’s clearest visual reference to the original 1972 Honda Civic

With a ground-up new design and an all-new platform, the E will spearhead Honda’s electrification strategy. And yet it’s leading that particular charge from what looks to be, in one key respect at least, a questionable position. Where many affordable mainstream EVs are now appearing with more than 200 miles of WLTP-certified range, the dinky E arrives with a comparatively meagre 136 miles of range at most.

However, Honda is confident it has taken the right approach with this car, even if it has to justify its strategy by strictly defining both who the E is aimed at and how it should be used. According to the messaging, then, the E will be bought by individuals who appreciate its design and compactness to such an extent that they’re happy to pay a little more for a car they won’t be able to travel quite as far in.

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Has such a specialised brief ultimately made Honda’s maiden electric effort a better next-generation city car, or a worse one? Stand by to find out.

The Honda E range at a glance

Honda’s two-derivative E line-up keeps it simple. Those after the most rangy and manoeuvrable E should stick with the cheaper, slightly less powerful base model (with its skinnier, economy-biased tyres).

But those wanting to maximise the car’s design and tech appeal can simply opt for an Advance-spec car with a choice of 16in or 17in wheels, and with a digital rear-view mirror, premium audio, heated windscreen and automatic parking all standard.


Honda E First drives