Honda e Advance – Among the big fish

Ian Lamming dives into the world of electric vehicles and ends up swimming with the fishes.

WHY haven’t we thought of it before? It’s what any self-respecting motorist needs, although until now none of us realised.

Press a button on the dash of the latest Honda electric, the e (I see what they did there), and it turns into an aquarium, well a fish tank at least. Put your finger on the touchscreen (when stationary, obviously) and all the little fishes swim towards it to nibble your cuticles – how ‘cute’ is that? I’m liking this little electric town car already.

There’s another very important button on the touchscreen too; it looks like a little petrol pump but has a lightning bolt through it. Tap that and up pops the nearest charging points. Look at that, the nearest is just 750m away, who would have known it? Then it lists a load more moving gradually away from you. Touch the one you fancy and it sends the address to the satnav which immediately starts giving you instructions. Brilliant! But then it needs to be.

Generally speaking tests cars are delivered to the door – we are so spoilt. But on this occasion a request comes in to collect it from a dealer. I wonder why?

When I get there the reason becomes all too apparent, there’s not enough charge to get me home – but then I do live over 100 miles away. So rather than plan a route home around public rapid chargers I decide to settle for a blatt around the block and I’m glad I do because I can enjoy the car’s considerable talents free from the vagaries of range anxiety.

That means I can put my foot down and enjoy the stunning acceleration from the electric motor, which, surprisingly, feeds into the rear wheels. It pulls like a train, a Tube train. It is also incredibly agile and has such a low centre of gravity, thanks to low-set batteries under the skin, that it hugs the road like a go-kart. It is whisper quiet too and the ride is brilliant. You feel instantly at home and can’t help having a big stupid smile on your face, particularly as it seems to bring the world joy with its cute Japanese looks and bright yellow livery. It’s fun all the way and a veritable ray of sunshine in the late summer gloom.

Apparently the styling cues are from the original 1970s Civic – my how cars have grown – and it is touted as an urban-commuter so the 125 mile range should be plenty for most. A rapid charger will take it from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in just 30 minutes too which is great so mileage shouldn’t be an issue unless you live where I do in the back of beyond and then some.

Are you ready for this? The Honda e is the brand’s first BEV – what? That’s a Battery-powered Electric Vehicle of course. Expect to see that acronym more in the future as Honda has pledged to electrify the whole range by 2025.

Honda e is full of great design touches, like the pop out flush-fitting door handles and the door cameras that replace conventional wing mirrors, projecting the rear view onto small TV screens inside that are just the right height for your eyes and offer greater visibility, including normal blind-spots. The charging point is integrated neatly into the bonnet.

The Honda e re-invents the small car and I absolutely love it. It is brimming with technology, including the virtual aquarium, which should put Honda among the big fish when it comes to electrification.

Fact File

Honda e Advance

Engine: electric

Power: 113PS, 315Nm torque

0-62mph: 8.0 secs

Top speed: 100mph

Range: 125 miles

Transmission: CVT automatic

CO2 g/km: 0

Price: £30,715.00