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Honda NSX review: how the people’s supercar humbled Ferrari

Honda NSX classic

After 1989, sports cars would never be the same. That year, the Mazda MX-5 reinvented the roadster – with added reliability – then Honda did the same for the supercar. Its NSX was, in essence, a Ferrari without the flaws.

The New Sportscar eXperimental reached UK showrooms in late 1990, priced at £55,000. Its lightweight aluminium body was shrink-wrapped around a mid-mounted 3.0-litre V6 with forged pistons, titanium conrods and a searing 8,000rpm redline. Suspension was by double wishbones all-round, and F1 hero Ayrton Senna (racing for McLaren Honda at the time) helped hone the handling. No doubt, the NSX was the real deal.

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Reviews at the time, though, were mixed. The NSX torpedoed the myth that supercars have to be hard work, but some thought it too sanitised – complaining it lacked the character of European rivals. Yet history would prove Honda right. Today, you don’t need the skills of Senna to drive a McLaren Senna, and we have the NSX to thank. Equally, what seemed sensible 30 years ago now feels like a glorious throwback to an analogue age.

Honda NSX classic

It’s 6:30am as we board the Channel Tunnel. Two days and 478 miles of driving lie ahead, including stop-offs at historic racetracks in Reims and Rouen, plus a detour into central Paris for an overnight stay. Classic road tests are rarely so rigorous, but I’m hopeful the NSX will rise to the challenge. Me? I’ll need a double espresso first.

Honda’s heritage car hails from 2005, the last year of original NSX production. By this point, engine capacity had risen to 3.2 litres and pop-up headlights had fallen victim to US safety legislation. Metallic orangey-gold paint aside, it looks subtle for a supercar. The plasticky dashboard and parts-bin switches haven’t aged well, but its low-slung driving position is superb. The view ahead, all wraparound windscreen and plunging bonnet, is pure Le Mans racer.

With plenty of motorway miles to Reims, I’m dismayed to discover ‘infotainment’ is limited to a cassette player. Fortunately, the 280hp V6 makes its own music: a sultry snarl that swells to a rabid mechanical shriek. Beyond 5,500rpm (where many engines would shortly run out of revs), Honda’s VTEC variable valve timing kicks in like a nitrous boost, piling on speed with insatiable intensity.

We pause for photos in the evocative pitlane of Reims-Gueux – which hosted the French Grand Prix until 1966 – then drive what remains of the former circuit. The back straight is now a busy dual-carriageway, passing a retail park and drive-thru McDonald’s. The magic seems long gone.

The NSX is busy casting its spell, though. Its power steering feels light but lucid, its stubby gearlever moves with rifle-bolt precision and its pedals are just-so for heel-and-toe downshifts. Panoramic visibility and modest dimensions also mean we cope calmly with rush-hour Paris. Unlike, seemingly, every other driver on the infamous Périphérique ring road.

Honda NSX classic

If the ‘road to Rouen’ sounds like a stand-up comedy tour, the reality – 80 miles on Autoroute 13 – is less amusing. But while the old Rouen-Les-Essarts circuit has vanished almost without trace, the surrounding hills form a perfect playground for the NSX. It flows between apices like a parkour athlete, its pliant suspension and progressive chassis delivering the raw, seat-of-pants feedback that’s so often smothered in modern cars. Here, on rural roads more accustomed to tractors and decrepit Clios, the Honda feels transcendent.

This purity still appeals, some 30 years after launch. The current NSX is an altogether different beast, a futuristic hybrid with nigh-on twice the power, yet I wonder if it will ever inspire the same reverence. If driving is your drug, the original NSX is a Class A hit. After a road-trip to remember, I think I’m addicted.

Price: from £45,000

0-62mph: 5.5sec

Top speed: 168mph

Horsepower: 280

MPG combined: 22.8

Honda NSX: in pictures

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Honda NSX 2020 review: exotic, exhilarating… and easygoing

Honda NSX

There’s a feeling among some petrolheads that cars peaked in the early 1990s. It’s been downhill ever since. Writing for Autocar, Colin Goodwin went further, declaring 1994 ‘the greatest year in the history of the car’. I wasn’t old enough to drive back then, but I wonder if Colin is right.

Yes, cars today are better built, safer and more sophisticated. But as driving machines, they’re also more homogenised, sanitised and mundane. To quote Colin: ‘[1994] marks a point in time when cars were simpler, less cluttered with technology and, most importantly, had realistic performance’. One example he uses to illustrate this is the Honda NSX.

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The original NSX was no dinosaur: it was the first mass-produced car with an all-aluminium body, while its 274hp V6 used VTEC variable valve timing to boost power and economy. At heart, however, this was a straightforward sports car, with its engine in the middle, rear-wheel drive and virtually no electronic aids. Its superb steering, balletic handling – honed by Ayrton Senna – and high-revving howl left journalists in raptures and Ferrari red-faced. How the NSX felt to drive was what mattered.

Honda NSX

For the second-generation NSX, launched in 2016, Honda could have refreshed the same formula. Instead, perhaps inspired by hybrid hypercars like the LaFerrari and McLaren P1, it created something far more futuristic. The slightly by-numbers styling of the Mk1 made way for a riot of aggressive angles. And while there was still a V6 behind the seats, it was complemented by two turbos, three electric motors and a nine-speed gearbox driving all four wheels. On paper, this looked like progress.

On the road, many were less convinced. The NSX was heavy (1,759kg) and didn’t feel as raw and exciting as rivals. So Honda has obliged with a mid-life makeover, focused on righting these wrongs. Thermal Orange pearlescent paint aside, there are few visual changes – and no extra power for the 581hp hybrid drivetrain. But new anti-roll bars and rear-wheel hubs, plus tweaked settings for the steering, dampers, transmission and four-wheel-drive systems, promise a much sharper drive.

They deliver, too. Spin the Dynamic Mode dial to Sport+ and the NSX leaps to its toes: energised and agile. It turns in sharply, poised and playful mid-corner before Velcro-like grip rockets it onwards. The light steering jostles with incessant feedback and the huge carbon-ceramic brakes are easy to modulate. The suspension is also supple enough for British B-roads, transmitting every ripple and bump without making the car feel skittish. I’m not in the same universe in terms of driving skill, but I suspect Ayrton would approve.

Honda NSX

The NSX is ferociously fast, combining a wallop of electric torque with frenzied petrol power at the top end. Zero to 62mph takes 3.3 seconds, with urgent response at any speed. Being able to cruise silently around town in Quiet mode, using electric power only, feels very right-on, and helps towards impressive 26.4mpg economy. At times, I wished it sounded more special – its cultivated snarl won’t startle onlookers like a Lamborghini V10 – but mostly I was glad for its relative decorum. The novelty of constant barks and bangs soon wears thin.

It still isn’t perfect. The boot is tiny, the plastic paddle-shifters feel naff and the media system, shared with the Civic hatchback, is woeful. A price tag of £170,000, swollen by the weak pound, also makes it notably more expensive. Even so, only the more-commonplace Porsche 911 Turbo offers such easygoing usability in a supercar package. The new NSX might lack the simple charm of the original, but as the car industry rushes towards electrification, it feels forward-thinking and right for its time. The future is orange.

Price: £170,000

0-62mph: 3.3sec

Top speed: 191mph

CO2 G/KM: 242

MPG combined: 26.4

Honda NSX: in pictures

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Honda tests its robot lawnmower in public parks

Honda Miimo autonomous mower

Honda has begun testing its Miimo autonomous lawnmower with the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association as a solution to public park grass maintenance.

Working together with Honda’s E500 portable power source, Miimo can work unsupervised for long periods. All being well, it could help with future environmental improvement operations where a mains power supply isn’t available.

If you’re wondering what Miimo is, it’s probably best described as a Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner for your lawn. In Honda terms, it’s Mean Mower meets ASIMO. And it makes sense that the creator of the world’s fastest lawnmower, and one of the world’s cleverest robots, would combine the two.

Honda Miimo autonomous mower

Miimo has been on the market since 2017, and has proved very popular. Honda is now putting it to work on an industrial scale.

It can cut your grass, then find its way back to a charging hub when it gets low on power. It even has different cutting presets, so you can choose how it goes about its work.

Honda Miimo autonomous mower

There are advantages of Miimo beyond the obvious reduction in effort on the lawn owner’s part. The more regular mowing that Miimo can realistically achieve means grass becomes healthier and denser.

It’s one thing to cut your grass while looking on from the comfort of your conservatory. It’s quite another for a mower to be out in the world unsupervised for days and potentially weeks at a time.

If this testing and future tests are successful, Miimo could find itself playing a much bigger role in the upkeep of our surroundings.

2020 new Honda Jazz

Opinion: I’m in love with the new Honda Jazz

2020 new Honda Jazz

Confession: I think I may have fallen for the new Honda Jazz. In a week when the great and the good of the motoring world have tripped over their travel bags and squabbled over frozen party food to bring us the latest news from Wolfsburg, I’ve been pondering the simple beauty of the Jazz.

It’s beautifully simple. Honda hasn’t lost sight of what makes the Jazz so appealing. Like it or not, this is the car you’d want your parents to drive when they retire. It’s as familiar as The Archers theme tune, as dependable as a Golden Retriever, and as practical as a Cub Scout leader.

We don’t want the Honda Jazz to be quick (unless we’re stuck behind one on a B-road). We don’t want the Honda Jazz to be snazzy. We don’t want the Honda Jazz to be exciting. Which is why Honda appears to have nailed the fourth-generation model.

What’s up, Doc?

2020 new Honda Jazz

Take the styling, which is almost exactly how you’d want the Mk4 Jazz to look. The front end is a bit goofy, with a hint of Bugs Bunny, but overall, it puts right the wrongs of the outgoing Jazz.

The Jazz has always felt like a supermini XL – like a pair of beige slacks with an elasticated waist. Honda is promising ‘class-leading’ levels of interior space, thanks to the position of the fuel tank below the front seats and the hybrid tech in the engine bay.

Oh yeah, did I mention that the new Jazz is powered by a two-motor hybrid system? Honda hasn’t released any figures, but has promised ‘impressive fuel economy’. Needless to say, Jazz drivers won’t be making regular trips to the petrol station, so that plastic loyalty card can be recycled.

2020 new Honda Jazz

The Magic Seats are retained, because removing them would be akin to chasing away the ravens from the Tower of London. The flexibility afforded by the rear seats is one of the joys of Honda Jazz ownership.

Yes, I just used the word ‘joy’ in the context of the Honda Jazz.

Which brings me on to the dashboard. I suspect the press photos show a top-spec interior with all the bells and whistles, but notice how all the switches and buttons are positioned in a neat and driver-focused manner.

Volkswagen reckons the world is ready for a Golf with virtually no physical buttons. I beg to differ. Such an approach would see Jazz loyalists voting to leave for the sanctuary of the Yaris, leaving the remainers to wonder what on earth just happened.

2020 new Honda Jazz

Note the two USB ports, the deep cupholder in front of the air vent, the positioning of the LCD touchscreen and the two-spoke steering wheel. Jazz, if I’m honest, you had me at the two-spoke steering wheel. 

There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for when the grandchildren come to visit, wireless smartphone charging, and even a wifi hotspot. Now, Jazz owners can browse the online version of the Daily Express as they enjoy tea from a Thermos on the East Sussex coast.

The unfortunately named Crosstar is a faux crossover I could do without, but no doubt Honda has done its homework. To be fair, the Jazz wears the two-tone paint job rather well. It’s like ‘man at C&A’ has wandered into H&M by mistake.

2020 new Honda Jazz

I’m fully aware that this declaration of love for the new Honda Jazz merely cements my reputation as the odd uncle who is always left off the guest list. The one who’s estranged from the extended family. I’m not concerned.

The world doesn’t need another compact SUV, million-dollar hypercar or ‘Ringmeister. What it needs is an efficient, sensible and clever supermini that’s easy to park, cheap to run and is unlikely to let you down. Jazz hands to that.

Honda e

Honda brings FORWARD electrification deadline to 2022

Honda e

Every mainstream new Honda sold in Europe by 2022 will be electrified, the firm has announced at a headline ‘Electric Vision’ event in Amsterdam. 

This new deadline is three years ahead of its previously-stated 2025 goal.

The firm will also launch an additional all-new battery electric model and an electrified SUV by the end of 2022, as well as the next-generation Civic and HR-V. 

Honda is not giving any further information about the new cars at this stage, however. 

Honda Hybrid

The commitment means every volume Honda model sold will use either hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric drive. 

All mainstream non-electrified petrol and diesel cars will cease production for Europe by the end of 2022. 

“This shift to electrification will change the face of our model line-up considerably,” said Tom Gardner, Honda Motor Europe senior vice president.

The firm has new branding for its new approach, Honda e:Technology. 

Honda drive green

The commitment will be achieved by the accelerated launch of six new electrified models over the next 36 months. This includes the next-generation Honda Jazz, revealed at the Amsterdam event. 

On sale from spring 2020, the new Jazz will be fully-electrified for the UK, with a clever e:HEV two-motor hybrid powertrain. 

What about Type R?

Honda is not saying anything about Type R at this stage, other than admitting the storied brand is a key part of its range. 

There are two options – either an electrified Type R version of the next-generation Civic… or a traditional turbo petrol hot hatch. 

Honda has ruled out petrol power only for its mainstream models: specialist low-volume cars such as Type R could still use regular drive. 

It seems almost certain there will be a next-generation Honda Civic Type R. What powers it, however, is another matter…

 

Prices announced for electric Honda e – and it’s not cheap

Honda e prices revealed Frankfurt

Prices for Honda’s e electric city car have been revealed – alongside a production-ready model – at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.

It starts from £26,160, with deliveries expected to commence by early summer 2020.

Buy on finance for £299 a month

The 100kW Honda e costs from £26,160, although that figure includes the £3,500 government plug-in car grant. Without that, it would be £29,660.

The 113kW ‘Advance’ version begins at £28,660, inclusive of the grant.

Alternatively, Honda e finance starts from £299 per month. That’s based on an 8,000-mile annual limit and 23 percent deposit. Paying £50 a month more gets you into the Advance model, which has an electric centre mirror to accompany the camera side mirrors, plus Honda Parking Pilot.

Honda e Advance – order from today

Honda e prices revealed Frankfurt

Ordering for the Advance version opens today at dealerships in the UK. Those who made initial reservations will get priority. Expect to receive an invitation to link up with your local dealer if you are among them.

Follow through with the order and you can expect to get one of the first summer 2020 deliveries.

“We’re pleased to be able to confirm the pricing for the Honda e,” said Phil Webb, head of car at Honda UK.

Honda e prices revealed Frankfurt

“Designed for the urban environment, and originally called the Urban EV, the Honda e has a competitive range of up to 136 miles.

“Honda research has found the average European commute is approximately 30 miles, making it more than sufficient. Coupled with the fast-charge capability of 80 percent in 30 minutes, the Honda e is perfect for the urban environment.

“Honda e is the embodiment of the brand’s commitment to electrification and is the next step towards our electric vision for 100 percent of European sales to be electrified by 2025.”

Honda ‘Mean Mower’ breaks lawnmower speed record

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

Honda’s ‘Mean Mower’ is now a bona fide world record holder, setting a new Guinness-validated fastest 0-100mph time for a lawnmower.

The Honda packs a 200+hp CBR1000RR Fireblade SP superbike engine and weighs just 69.1kg. That gives it a power to weight ratio superior to a Bugatti Chiron.

With these incredible statistics, and experienced stunt driver, kart and car racer Jess Hawkins at the wheel, it set a time of 6.29 seconds in a sprint from zero to 100mph.

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

Beyond that record, the Mean Mower went on to hit a top speed of 150.99mph. Yes, a 150mph lawnmower…

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Honda’s racing partner Team Dynamics played a role in realising this manic machine, too.

In order to take the record Mean Mower had actually perform the function of a lawnmower. Its electrically powered carbon fibre blades allow that function when needed.

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

Also, in order to gain a record, Guinness mandates that you have to perform twice inside an hour. As such, Mean Mower made two sub-seven-second 0-100mph runs, with an aggregate of 6.29 seconds.

Incredibly, there’s precedent for this, set by Honda itself. Mean Mower V2 succeeds the original Mean Mower. That became the fastest lawnmower in the world in March 2014, hitting 116mph.

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

“The original Mean Mower was an incredible machine, but this time we’ve taken it to a whole new level with version two,” said Dave Hodgetts, MD of Honda UK.

“After taking the top speed record in 2014, we wanted to do something a little different by setting an all-new record for acceleration, and the result is fantastic. Team Dynamics have gone above and beyond in developing and building this real feat of engineering, and hats off to Jess for being brave enough to get behind the wheel!”

Dancing on ice: learning to drift in a Honda Civic Type R

Civic ice driving

There’s a good reason many of the world’s greatest rally drivers come from Finland. Its roads are one big, snow-covered special stage.

To sample the Finnish way of doing things, we travelled to Kemi, where northern Finland meets the Baltic Sea, to drive Honda Civics on ice.

Front-wheel drive on ice

Honda Civic ice driving

Momentum and weight-transfer are your buzz-words when it comes to hustling a front-wheel-drive car on ice. In a rear-drive sports car, fluffy rooster tails and easy rotation come with a tap of the loud pedal. Not so in a Civic. If anything, there’s a bit more skill involved.

You have to feel how the tyres are interacting with the surface, or you risk understeering into a snowdrift. You need to look a corner or two ahead and think how you approach each turn, in order to set yourself up for the next. Knowing where the car wants to swing is half the battle.

Many marques, including Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Porsche, have their own snow driving experiences. However, you’ll learn just as much from a front-wheel-drive Civic. You might even have more fun, too.

Honda Civic ice driving

Even in a 1.0-litre front-wheel-drive hatchback, there’s a sense of satisfaction and achievement that comes with getting your lines just right.

After plenty of laps, our race-hardened instructor finally shouts with pride – and it’s a good feeling.

Making the sensible Civic come alive

Honda Civic ice driving

Before any tail-out shenanigans can occur, there was a secret code we had to enter into the Civic’s control system. Brake down, handbrake up, clutch in, clutch out, handbrake down, brake up… Don’t quote us on that.

Put it this way, it required some Googling and at least three attempts to disable the stability systems. But once we got there, the tail chased us around and the wheels started scrapping without electronic interruption.

Even Honda admits the 1.0-litre Civic isn’t an exciting car in ordinary circumstances. It isn’t meant to be. Nevertheless, there is a good chassis hiding in there, as evidenced by the rip-snorting Type R version. 

Honda Civic ice driving

However, none of us preferred the Type R in these conditions. The softer suspension of the standard car gelled beautifully with the well-judged steering. Get your eye in after a few laps and a balletic lift-off oversteer dance comes together naturally. 

It shows how much care is given to the development of even ‘everyday’ cars. In the real world, most Civic owners won’t ever experience this. Unless they take a road-trip to Kemi…

Civic Type R tackles the frozen trackHonda Civic ice driving

The Type R initially served to demonstrate how beneficial the 1.0-litre’s softer setup was. However, where the hot hatch jarred in terms of rigidity, it won us over again with a quality gear shift, rorty engine and quick steering.

You can get up a bit more speed, too and on ice, more speed means more momentum. We weren’t using the Type R’s considerable power reserves by any means, but it got us going and the results were lengthy skids and even a couple of transitions. All with front-wheel drive.

Honda Civic ice driving

It was an experience in a part of the world that was utterly unforgettable. I know we all came away better drivers as a result.

Honda E Prototype: an iPhone moment for cars?

Honda e PrototypeKohei Hitomi, Honda E Prototype project leader, took a trip to Europe early in the development of the new electric car, which makes its public debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. He wanted to find out just what was required to crack the car’s target market.

He came back with instructions for the design team. It had to be short. It must have an incredibly tight turning circle. The battery should have enough range for urban use, but not too much, because that would hurt size and price.

Honda would make a small, city-focused EV, in a world where most rivals were focusing on bigger ones.

Honda e Prototype

Senior management took some convincing. “The biggest barrier to making a small EV was resistance inside Honda,” admits Hitomi-san. “It was a quite logical argument: the belief you need a bigger range leads to a bigger battery, and to a bigger car, and to a higher price, and higher profits.

“When I came with the idea of making a small car, everyone was opposed. It was the added value argument that convinced management.” His concept got the green light. And at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, the fruits of his winning argument have been revealed to the public.

Production-ready (almost)

The Honda E Prototype is, suggest Honda insiders, largely production-ready. It might differ in a few areas, but changes will be minimal. The production car will measure 3.9 metres – a little smaller than superminis such as the Honda Jazz – and seat four people.

Honda e Prototype

Unlike the Honda Urban EV concept, the E Prototype has five doors, rather than three. It was never going to be a three-door, said Hitomi-san. That would be marketing madness.

He also suggested the production car was designed before the concept, rather than the other way around – dispelling myths Honda toned down the concept for production. Rather, this model was toned up, to create a buzz. It certainly worked…

Hitomi-san is particularly proud the E Prototype uses a bespoke electric car platform. “It gave us more flexibility – we didn’t have to compromise.” The battery frame could be used as a core part of the car’s structure, rather than fitting into a layout created for a petrol engine.

Honda e Prototype

It also meant the little Honda could be rear-wheel drive. Having the motor out the way of the front wheels helps the turning circle. It also makes it better to drive. “Electric motors give lots of pulling power, immediately. Sending this to the rear wheels helps traction and driver confidence.”

Honda wouldn’t be drawn on speculation that this performance car layout is leading it to consider a drift series for the E Prototype.

Fully charged

Honda hasn’t released much technical information about the E Prototype yet. It will produce around 135hp, and a meaty 184lb ft of pulling power. This should be good for 0-60mph in around 8.0 seconds.

Honda e Prototype

Because of its size, the battery will be smaller than the norm. Around 30kWh is expected; the base Nissan Leaf has a 40kWh unit. This is expected to give the little Honda a range of around 125 miles – again, less than key rivals (the Kia e-Niro, which will probably sell for a similar price to the Honda, has a range of around 290 miles).

Honda isn’t worried (at least not openly). Hitomi-san stresses again, this is an urban EV (now you know why the concept was named so) in which people will cover tens of miles a day, rather than hundreds. And because the battery is smaller, it charges faster. Fixing the battery size is core to the car’s intelligent design and city-friendly performance.

Hands-on: Honda E Prototype

Designer Ken Sahara describes the design as simple, clean, “noiseless… cars are getting complex now. We wanted an ‘easy to see’ car, with the friendliness of models from the 60s and 70s. Modern cars need lots of sensors, but we focused on concealing them, to create something that looked familiar.”

Honda e Prototype

The front end is minimalist. The radar sensors are hidden behind the gloss black panel. At the side, surfaces are clean and clear. The profile of the Honda E Prototype is the focus, not the details within it.

It has sector-first details. Deployable doorhandles (like on a Jaguar F-Type) reduce clutter. There are cameras instead of door mirrors, feeding two HD screens within. And the interior is just as alluring.

Honda has successfully carried across the ‘lounge-like’ ambience of the concept. The screens on the dashboard are modelled on flat-screen TVs. Seats are like armchairs, particularly in the rear (and the upholstery is intentionally more ‘home furnishings’ than ‘automotive’).

Honda e Prototype

Quality is exceptionally high. This feels a premium product. The attention to detail is beyond mainstream superminis – it’s Audi-like within. There are some beautiful touches too, such as the leather strap that releases the front cupholder, and four ‘downlighter’ LEDs in the roof for rear passengers. “We could have just had two,” said Hitomi-san. “Having four made it feel more like a living room.”

It’s not a Tardis, though. It’s really easy to step in and out of the front seats, but it feels like a supermini-sized car. Rear-seat space is rather tight for adults, and it can only seat two, not three. The boot is tiny, due to the electrical gubbins below. Honda is crossing its corporate fingers that this won’t be an issue to the urbanites it’s targeting with the E Prototype.

How much will the Honda E Prototype cost?

Then there’s the small matter of the price. This, clearly, will not be a budget car. Speculation is around £30,000 to £35,000. If Elon Musk’s suggestion is right, that’s Tesla Model 3 money. But comparisons are not relevant, insists Hitomi-san. The E Prototype is a different sort of car, with a different target market.

Honda e Prototype

He draws an analogy with the Apple iPhone. “That is not a cheap product, but everyone still wants to have one. People will save to own one. It proves there can be strong demand for some something with added value and high quality.

“We have tried to go the same way, even if the price might look high at first glance.”

Verdict: Honda E Prototype

Only Honda could make a car like the E Prototype. It’s not me-too, it’s a thoughtful and clever piece of product design, and the company’s ambition for it to become the iPhone of electric cars is, while ambitious, also justified.

Honda e Prototype

Even Honda management’s initial reaction suggests it’s a bit of a gamble, but Hitomi-san and his team have delivered something that deserves to succeed. In time, the everyday electric Hondas will arrive; we will eventually buy an electric Honda Jazz.

For now, the Honda E Prototype is the warm-up act. Don’t be surprised if its irresistible allure helps cure urbanites of their range anxiety.

Honda E Prototype: in pictures

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Honda teases ultra-cool Urban EV electric car in production form

Honda Electric Vehicle Concept exterior teaser

Honda has given us a glimpse inside the hotly-anticipated 2019 production version of the Urban EV. The retro-futuristic all-electric concept debuted in 2017 to an uproarious reaction, prompting Honda to fast-track a production version. Here’s our first look at the prototype due at Geneva…

The five-door Urban EV

Our immediate first observation is that on one of the screens we can see the production car’s silhouette, complete with… five doors. That is a departure from the concept but not an unwelcome one. It doesn’t appear to have impeded on the Urban EV’s unique style.

Retro style survives to production

Honda Electric Vehicle Concept interior

Happily, the full-width minimalist digital dash of the concept has largely carried over. There’s a distinctly production-looking wheel you wouldn’t be surprised to find on any other Honda and a very clean, premium-looking and user-friendly interface.

What’s decidedly not retro, is what we think could possibly be screens and cameras instead of door mirrors… Not the screen to the left of where you’d normally find the speedo and rev counter…

Below the screen, there remains a lovely wood-looking trim, as seen on the prototype Whether it’s actual wood or an eco-friendly imitation remains to be seen. Either way, we’re a fan of the aesthetic, which harks back to the original Honda Civic interior.

Honda Urban EV – the first mainstream electric car?

There remain big questions about the Urban EV when it arrives.

Will the real-world driving range be tenable? How fast can you charge it up? Will it be affordable? Honda has undoubtedly addressed any image problems electric cars have with what must be one of the coolest-looking small cars in a generation.

Honda Urban EV

However, in going to production, we hope it’s also addressed some of the serious issues that hamper real-world electric cars in their quest for the mainstream.

Speculation remains rife. Either way, we can’t wait for Honda to reveal all next month on March 5 at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.