The relatively slow steering and the particular suspension tuning that tends to be applied to compact, high-sided, rear-engined cars can sometimes make them seem curiously unwieldy at low speeds. Not so the E.

This is a car that, within a hundred yards, is beginning to tell you that it’s relatively softly sprung at the rear axle and that it also puts less rubber on the road at the front wheels than it does at the rear – both of which make it gently understeer at an adhesive limit that isn’t too hard to find on a brisk country-road drive.

The Honda E is capable of charging at a rate of up to 50kW – slower than some rivals. 50kW public rapid chargers can get the battery from 10-80% in about 35 minutes

But around town, where the car is primarily intended to be used, it steers in an agile and accurate fashion and keeps close control of body roll, although, as we’ll come to explain, it doesn’t punish you with a firm or bothersome low-speed ride. The E is a pleasure to thread around roundabouts and junctions, then, offering great visibility, being obligingly narrow and having every bit as much grip and dynamic composure as it needs to deploy all of the nippiness of that electric powertrain.

That pleasing urban-setting composure isn’t always replicated at B-road speeds. Here, the softness of the suspension makes the body a little prone to agitation on uneven surfaces. It fusses laterally with ‘head toss’ over near-the-verge bumps, and it pitches and heaves a little through bigger compressions, and although you might not notice all that happening if you were sitting closer to the car’s centre of gravity, you certainly do from the slightly elevated perch in which you sit in the car. In that respect, and albeit at a much smaller scale, the E’s driving position feels a little like driving a two-storey townhouse from the front bedroom.

As we’ve hinted, the car is stable enough at speed, although it has a slightly meek outright limit of grip, understeering gently but persistently once you reach it and being managed subtly but effectively by an electronic stability control system that can be dialled back but not fully switched off. It rolls quite smartly during quicker cornering – not to big angles, thankfully, but big enough to take the bite away from those front tyres in non-negotiable fashion.

Comfort and isolation

Honda claims the E was benchmarked against larger, D-segment cars for ride comfort and isolation, and it shows. It feels like a more softly sprung flavour of EV, one that offers handsome amounts of compliance through dips and compressions.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Explore the Honda range

Back to top

Suspension noise caused by secondary intrusions is convincingly muffled before it can make its way into the cabin, and the impacts themselves are smartly rounded off in a rubber-footed manner that’s not entirely unlike a Volkswagen Polo in its effectiveness. At lower speeds and on particularly rough stretches of road, the E does succumb to a moderately excited kind of body control that seems to concentrate itself around the rear axle in particular.

Even so, such complaints hardly detract from the fact that, generally speaking, the E rides with a genteel smoothness that’s uncommon in EVs of a similar footprint. Provided it had the range or, more accurately, owners had the patience to frequently charge the battery, you could easily envisage using the E on journeys that fall outside of Honda’s rather restrictive prescribed usage patterns.

With cameras taking the place of traditional door mirrors, wind noise is at a minimum, and road noise doesn’t seem particularly overbearing, either.

Assisted driving notes

Honda has plainly made an effort to improve its semi-autonomous driving technology offering with the E. Although it’s missing some functionality compared with systems from other manufacturers, what it does it does quite effectively and well.

The speed limit detection system will consistently recognise posted limits, for example, and will alert you when you’re breaking them, but it won’t automatically govern the car’s set cruise control speed to keep you legal. The lane keeping system will warn you if you’re about to pull out with a vehicle in your blindspot, but it won’t guide the car out automatically if it’s safe, like others do.

On winding roads, the lane keeping system will intervene gently on the steering as you approach the margin of your lane but won’t wrestle with you to ensure you’re always precisely centred within it.

Mostly, then, the car clearly wants to keep you engaged in the process of driving – just as it should.

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Honda range