The E’s performance levels are well matched to the cut-and-thrust environments in which it will inevitably operate. By and large, this doesn’t seem like the kind of electric car that will sell on the powerful, darting response of its driving experience – and yet it still has a very sprightly, instant turn of speed when you need it.
Getting from 30mph to 50mph, as you might when leaving a built-up area or zipping past a slow-moving tractor or lorry, takes just 3.0sec. Although that’s not quite as swift as the i3 REx we tested in 2013 (2.7sec) or the bigger Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric, that’s enough to make the E seem very energetic in and around town and well able to seize any opportunity or plug any gap in city traffic you’re likely to spot for it.
There are two drive modes – Normal and Sport – which, among other things, dictate just how responsive the E is to throttle inputs. In Normal, there’s a need to use a fair amount of pedal travel to rouse the Honda into urgent life.
When you do, though, the way this rear-engined EV squats down on its haunches and springs forward is much more in keeping with the level of response you’d expect from a car with 232lb ft of instantly available torque. Alternatively, bump the rocker switch to select Sport mode and that initially soft throttle response is sharpened considerably.
Although the E defaults to a relatively minimal level of regenerative braking, you can select a ‘one-pedal’ mode of driving by pressing the button directly behind the drive selector. The car’s ‘energy regen’ settings can then be further altered by toggling the paddle shifters on either side of the steering wheel until you find your preferred level of regeneration.
Even in its most aggressive setting (which, like much else about the car’s dynamic execution, isn’t very aggressive at all), the motor regeneration works with the friction brakes to commendably slick effect, with reasonable pedal feel and progression to make for smooth stops. In full emergency brake conditions, the Honda will come to a rest from 70mph in 44.5 metres, its Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres (it’s still rare to find sports tyres on an EV) no doubt playing a key role here.