Honda E Prototype carries most of the Urban EV concept to production

1 March 2019 - Autoblog

Honda E Prototype carries most of the Urban EV concept to production

Lounge-like interior and 125-mile range won't be cheap, though

When we saw the Honda Urban EV concept at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, we wondered how much of the butch attitude would make production. The answer is most of it. Honda unveiled the Honda E Prototype today, which is a few percent away from what the production electric vehicle — sold under a different name — will look like when it goes on sale later this year in Europe.

The illuminated badge and text displays on the concave black front won't survive to the dealer's lot because the UK's Advertising Standards Authority considers such illuminations forbidden advertisement. The front and rear headlights have gone full circle, instead of the clipped circles and rounded rectangles on the concept. The body-colored rim around the roof is gone, but a roof spoiler hangs over the backlight. The loss of the 20-inch multi-spoke wheels under kicked-out fender flares makes the biggest change in stance. The pictured proto sits on 17-inch wheels, the optional rim from the 16-inch standard. But there might be room to slide a 19-incher under there.

So what do we get? A new rear-wheel drive EV platform with wheels pushed out to the corners. A front-facing camera and a LIDAR system hide behind the black expanse in front to enable higher-end driver assistance features. The charging point occupies the middle of the hood so it can be reached from both sides. An LED display under the black panel welcomes the driver and shows remaining battery charge. Pop-out door handles sit flush with the body, behind stubby posts that house cameras for the side view mirrors. A camera in the rear sends a feed to the digital rear-view camera.

The cabin sets a new standard for a compact EV. The wood-look trim is actually a four-millimeter-thick film. The seat fabric is recycled polyester. The five screens set in a plinth above the instrument panel show the side mirror feeds at the corners, a digital instrument cluster in front of the driver, and every other driving and infotaiment menu in the two 12-inch screens in the center. Finally beginning to fulfill the digital promise of a co-driver, passengers can pull up information on the screen closest to them and swipe it across the display to the driver's screen.

Honda hasn't offered any specs on battery capacity or e-motor output. We know that range is about 125 miles, and you can get 80 percent of that range back in 30 minutes of charging. According to Top Gear magazine's Jack Rix, Honda's planning the EV as a premium proposition, and he estimates a price around 25,000 to 30,000 British pounds. For comparison, the brand new Mazda3 Skyactiv-D GT Sport costs 26,400 pounds.

The range, interior, features, and guesstimated price make the E Prototype start to sound more like a second-generation BMW i3 than a forward-looking, practical EV offering. For now we don't need to judge since we don't have precise information, we only need to enjoy. But we are wary.

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