In-depth reviews

Honda e hatchback - Interior & comfort

The Honda e’s interior is like no other on the market

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Interior & comfort Rating

4.5 out of 5

The Honda e might look cute and retro on the outside but inside it has a futuristic design and state-of-the-art technology. With screens that stretch from one door to the other, the interior doesn’t really look like it’s from a car at all. Add the wood trim, and it looks like you could be in a living room or a department store - a feeling only strengthened by the inclusion of an HDMI port to plug a games console into.

The materials used are mostly high quality and tactile, and Honda has made it feel relaxing; it’s a really pleasant place to spend time. We’d go as far as saying that the interior is more upmarket and advanced than those of the MINI Electric and Peugeot e-208, and we fully expect more cars to come with a similar ‘slab’ of screens in the next few years.

Honda e dashboard

Many concept cars are shown at motor shows with interiors like the one in the e, but Honda has made it a reality. The dashboard setup is unlike anything currently on sale in the UK, and even trumps Tesla for sheer theatre. It’s made up of two infotainment screens, an 8.8-inch digital instrument cluster, and screens that show what’s behind you - these replace traditional wing mirrors. The latter have almost no lag between what's happening and what appears on the screen, and work better than in more expensive cars like the Lexus ES. We also found they quickly became natural to use.

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The infotainment screens measure 12.3 inches across and the system operates in a similar way to your smartphone. Tiles are used to show the different functions, and you pinch with your fingers to zoom in or out. The displays can also switch screens with a touch of a button, should you wish to bring the sat nav or media display closer to you. The displays are sharper, brighter and more responsive than anything we've seen in a Honda before, but reaching the left panel is a stretch from the driver's seat.

A full-width wooden trim piece makes the cabin feel even more sophisticated and, as it’s a single piece, gives the Honda e even more of a concept-car feel. The spindly two-spoke steering wheel gives this effect, too, but has plenty of functions to play with and will be shared with the new Honda Jazz.

Physical buttons still have a place in the Honda e, we’re pleased to report. The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning controls, audio volume and screen illumination functions are all controlled by buttons.

Equipment

Two trim levels are available to choose when you order your Honda e. The base model is unnamed, but comes with most of the features you’d ever wish for. As standard, it gets heated front seats, a rear-view camera, smartphone mirroring, automatic LED headlights and the impressive panoramic roof.

The Advance trim comes with the more powerful electric motor and replaces the standard 16-inch wheels with a set that are a size bigger. However, you can swap back to the 16s for no extra cost as they offer more range. Other kit on the Advance spec includes a heated steering wheel, auto-parking ability, an upgraded audio system, extra safety tech and a digital rear-view mirror.

Options

With so much standard equipment, there’s not much to choose from on the options list. You can pick the Illumination Pack (£500) which adds more ambient lighting, plus a choice of two ‘U.R.B.A.N’ packs that reference the Honda Urban EV prototype (£850 each). Leather upholstery, in either black or dark brown, costs £1,400, while two different sets of 17-inch alloy wheels are available on the Advance trim for around £1,000 each.

Technology

Honda has gone all-out in terms of technology, which helps justify the car’s relatively high price. The tech-fest starts when you open the door; the door handles pop out like they do on an Aston Martin and compatible smartphones can be used to unlock the car if you have the accompanying app and a unique code. The My Honda+ app also lets you choose when the car starts charging, so you can charge when electricity is cheaper.

The Audi e-tron made headlines when it was launched for its innovative side-mounted cameras instead of wing mirrors. Unlike the Audi, the Honda e gets these as standard, and they’re adjusted the traditional way. We found the Honda’s to be more in the driver’s eye-line, too. On the Advance trim, the rear-view mirror is yet another screen that can switch to a live video feed from the rear camera. You have to pay extra for this in high-end Land Rover models, but not here.

The main screens also impress for their versatility, and the ability to switch the displays and configure them to your preferences is really handy. There are a couple of fun features to mention: when the car’s stationary (including when it’s charging), you can play video games or set up a virtual aquarium. While we like the idea, the aquarium does feel a little bit like the Windows screensaver from about 25 years ago. There are a couple of other minor niggles with the screens, like the sat-nav graphics, but nothing that would really be enough to put buyers off.

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