Honda has finally released pricing information for its upcoming 'e' EV, and not a moment too soon either, with UK orders for some variants opening at 12:30pm today. Perhaps subconsciously admitting to the disappointment around its final form, the Japanese manufacturer's release refers to the "mass production version of the hotly anticipated car", seemingly recognising a difference in excitement between the fantastic concept and end product.
Those potential buyers who have accepted the e's road-going look - or who just can't see the difference - will be required to fork out a minimum of £26,160 for the least powerful 100kW version. For the higher-spec, 113kW "Advance" model, that outlay rises to £28,660, with those figures already taking the £3,500 Plug-in Car Grant into account. This means that, in the unlikely event that the subsidy be rolled back by a new government, an entry-level e could end up costing nearly £30,000.
For now, though, Honda reckons that those prices ought to equate to finance payments of £299 and £349 per month respectively; numbers dependent on a deposit of around 20 per cent and an 8,000-mile annual cap - a distance equivalent to around 266 trips equal at the European average of 30 miles.
Those in the market for the range-topping e Advance can place their orders from lunchtime today, and expect to see a shiny new EV outside their house by summer next year. Orders for the base car, meanwhile, aren't set to begin until early 2020.
Previous story - 04.09.2019
When Honda debuted its Urban EV concept at the 2017 Frankfurt show, a previously unseen appreciation for EVs was seemingly sparked in petrolheads the world over. PHer TrickyTrevM5 preempted the general consensus when he commented, "other than the i8, this is the best looking EV i've seen... I would be tempted to buy one when they come out if they look like this - so that I can ditch my diesel Mini for townie driving... and keep my M5 and Rangey."
Hopes were high, then, when PH sat down with the car's designer, Iwaki-san, at Geneva the following year. Even more so when he revealed that "actually, the development of the production vehicle came first, and then came the concept. That's why there's no element that will be especially for the production version. Having said that, because it's a concept, we made a few little changes; for example the tyres are a little bit bigger, and the car is lower than it would be in production."
Which explains our disappointment when Honda unveiled its 'e' production prototype at the same venue earlier this year. Along with the Urban EV moniker, the car had understandably shed its stunning multi-spoke wheels and low ride-height, just as Iwaki-san promised. But gone too were its flared arches, stockier proportions, three-door configuration and crisp, futuristic details. The original spirit of the car had just about been retained, only in blobbier, less appealing form and, though the car wasn't, its reception was considerably cooler as a result.
Now we have the first images of the car in its final production form, though, and pleasingly some touches had made it through unscathed. These include the 'Side Camera Mirror System' which replaces conventional wing mirrors with side-mounted compact cameras which feed images directly to two 6-inch screens inside the 'e', bringing "significant benefits for styling, safety, aerodynamics and refinement."
The full-width digital dash remains, too, giving the Porsche Taycan a run for its money by slapping two 12.3-inch LCD touchscreens inside the cabin. As well as performing the usual infotainment functions, the screens will provide access to "a range of applications and connected infotainment services that help the car to seamlessly integrate with the owner's modern urban lifestyle."
Of course, the electric powertrain has survived as well, and continues to promise the same benefits to urban drivers. Two outputs of 136hp and 154hp are available, each with 232lb ft of torque, make for a minimum 0-62 time of around 8.0 seconds - although the more-relevant 0-30 sprint will likely feel considerably more than twice as zippy. Fifty-fifty weight distribution and rear-wheel drive ought to help when it comes to driving dynamics too. The 35.5kWh battery, meanwhile, is one of the most compact in its class, but offers up to 136 miles of range nonetheless. It can also be charged to 80 per cent of its full capacity in 30 minutes when paired with a fast charger.
Back inside, Honda's Personal Assistant utilises a "unique contextual understanding" to enable more natural conversations than you might expect from the likes of Siri, and can be activated by yelling "Okay Honda" at unsuspecting passengers. The technology uses machine learning to develop a greater understanding of an individuals' voice over time, meaning conversations with it may soon mean you don't want any human company anyway...
Finally, 'e' owners will be able to stay connected to their car's remotely via Honda's pre-existing My Honda+ app. As well as offering the usual remote climate control, vehicle condition and security services, users will also be able to use their phones as a digital key, locking and unlocking their vehicle using only their phone.
So, despite Honda seemingly treading on its own toes by first unveiling a concept which looked considerably cooler than the production version it had already designed, there's still plenty to attract buyers to the Japanese manufacturer's latest creation. UK customers can register for priority ordering online now, although with 9,000 pre-orders having already been submitted from these shores alone, you'd better be quick if you don't want to find yourself at the back of the queue.