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Honda Urban EV electric car: first glimpse inside

Published: 13 February 2019

► Cute retro-styled electric-only concept
► Production version scheduled for 2020
► Confirmed for Geneva show debut

It's the latest dripfeed of intel from Honda - this is our first peek at the interior of the new Urban EV prototype that's headed for the 2019 Geneva motor show.

The single image of a shrouded dashboard shows that Honda has tried not to stray too far from the prototype's widescreen display. So, for the prototype production car, the display remains, beset in a dashboard complete with buttons and a steering wheel that look like they're already in series production. It's getting closer to reality, alright...

Small graphics of the car seen on the digital screen hint at how the prototype will look when it's revealed at the Swiss show next month. For those worried that the first sketch of the car destined for Geneva significantly stepped away from the frankly jaw-droppingly blocky concept at Frankfurt 2017 can relax - it seems the real thing will stick closer to those loveable looks than we thought.

Honda Urban EV dashboard charging

When the first sketch of the prototype was revealed, the brand said: 'Honda has confirmed the global premiere of a prototype version of its new electric vehicle at the Geneva motor show in March 2019. Honda’s new electric vehicle is developed with a focus on functionality and purpose and the prototype sketch demonstrates this through its clean, simple and unique design. The image highlights a clear link to Honda’s Urban EV Concept initially shown at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show.'

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Honda's UK website is already actively marketing the new Urban EV electric car - and confirmed that it will launch in early 2020 in the UK. The company is taking expressions of interest and more details are emerging of the cheery EV.

'This zero-emission, compact and innovative electric car is a modern take on the original Honda Civic and we will be opening reservations in early 2019, prior to the launch planned in early 2020,' the website reveals. 

It also lists some tech details - including the likely ability to charge up the battery to 80% capacity in half an hour. The information on Honda.co.uk also suggests that the Honda Power Manager Concept shown alongside the original Urban EV concept car could become a reality, letting owners manage how and when their car charges, as well as sell power back to the grid at peak times.

Honda Urban EV spy photos and news

Honda’s Urban EV has to be one of the most anticipated electric cars in a while, and our friends with the long lens have already snapped it testing in public. Although covered in camo, it’s interesting to see that much of the concept’s styling cues seem to have remained intact.

Our spy pictures show a prototype with the same striking headlights from the concept as well as frameless doors – though the rear lights are more rounded than before. And one other thing, those stubby mirrors are wing-mounted cameras, as seen on the Audi e-Tron as well as the Urban EV concept car.

Honda Urban EV spy short

Thankfully then, the Urban EV still has those retro-modern looks that caught our attention when it was first revealed. If there was an Apple car, we think it'd look a lot like this. 

We haven’t seen inside the new Urban EV yet, but expect the interior to be where the production car deviates most from the design shown at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show.

Keep reading for more on the concept car.

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Honda Urban EV: everything you need to know

This funky little hatch juxtaposes its contemporary battery-electric powertrain with painfully cute retro-inspired styling and has proved quite a hit for Honda when unveiled in concept car guise two years ago.

A compact four-seater with cool, minimalist interior detailing and similarly unfussy exterior surfaces (certainly compared with a lot of Honda’s current output…), the Urban EV has received ‘positive feedback’ according to Honda Motor Europe’s Philip Ross – he’s not kidding. The concept was the unlikely star of the last Frankfurt show and the scale of interest since has taken the Japanese manufacturer by surprise.

Honda’s not saying too much about what powers it, instead concentrating on its Honda Power Manager technology, as showcased on CAR earlier this year.

We do know that the Urban EV Concept is based on a bespoke electric car platform, which features a high-density, lightweight battery pack, integrated heat management and what’s described as the evolution of energy transfer functions – both to and from the vehicle.

Honda urban ev concept front

Speaking at the 2017 Tokyo show Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo said: ‘We are going to create a dedicated EV platform for the Urban EV. This is city commuter-sized vehicle, so a small segment car. The Urban EV will be your close friend as a city commuter. We will connect the driver to the car with artificial intelligence – people will have fun driving this car. The model will change the image of Honda and present our determination to electrify our cars in Europe.

‘We will position these EVs as iconic cars for the Honda brand because they present our intention to accelerate electrification,’ continued Hachigo. ‘We are also going to launch a commercial vehicle based on the Urban EV Concept model. The challenge for Honda is reducing the cost of EV production by incorporating EVs in with conventional car manufacturing.’

Little is known of the engineering of Honda’s electric platform, with Hachigo suggesting at Tokyo that elements of the project were far from being set in stone. So long as the design is faithful to the concept, what’s underneath will scarcely matter.

So, not much tech – let’s talk design

It’s a lovely looking thing, clearly referencing the original Honda Civic and the N600, with many shades of the Volkswagen Golf Mk1, too – which is a good thing in our books. It’s simple and sophisticated, and although it’s 100mm shorter than the Jazz supermini, it looks longer, wider and more purposeful.

The blue backlit Honda badge is an interesting feature, which will find its way to all future EVs from the company. And rather like the Smart Vision EQ ForTwo Concept, the Urban EV has interactive multilingual messages that can be displayed between the headlights. Cute, eh?

What’s the Honda Urban EV like inside?

The Honda Urban EV’s a doddle to get in thanks to rear-hinged ‘suicide’ doors. It’s light and airy, with slim A-pillars and a wide windscreen.

The dash is a thing of beauty – it’s finished in wood and wraps around, with a panoramic display screen sitting on top and a minimalist ethos. The Urban EV also comes with a quartic steering wheel like an Austin Allegro. What’s not to like?

Urban EV concept interior

Despite being so small, it’s an easy four-seater, with four adults accommodated across two bench seats finished in different materials. The front row is upholstered with natural grey fabric, with the seat backs, squabs and arm rests embellished with the same wood as the dash.

As for the production version? 'It's still under development,' said Ikuo Takeishi, Honda R&D executive. But we're hoping our shouts of 'build it!' across the table at Frankfurt didn't go unnoticed. Now that the car is nearing production, it seems they worked!

Good news for Urban EV then, not so much for Sports EV...

At the Tokyo show in late 2017 the Urban EV Concept was joined on the Honda stand by the equally pretty Sports EV Concept, a low-slung all-electric sports car whose chances of making series production are about as slim as its ground clearance. Boo.

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