► Honda e:Ny1 is firm’s second EV
► Costs from £45,000
► Seriously off the pace for a 2023 EV
Okay – the name. Honda insists its e:Ny1 electric SUV is pronounced ee-en-why-one, not e-anyone. It sits on the firm’s new electric platform, named e:N, which should underpin up to 30 new electric vehicles by 2030.
On the strength of this initial offering, Honda might need to go back to the drawing board. The e:Ny1 is resoundingly outclassed by almost any mainstream EV in all measurable ways, and quite a few subjective ones too.
Much of this would be forgivable if the e:Ny1 was astonishingly cheap. But it starts at a fiver shy of £45,000. The Advance spec car we’re testing costs £47,195. You can buy a huge number of fantastically talented electric SUVs and saloons for that money – including but not limited to a Kia EV6, a Skoda Enyaq, a Tesla Model 3. For two grand extra you can pick up a BMW i4.
So just what makes the Honda such poor value?
Pros: Should be reliable, five-year warranty, reasonably spacious
Cons: Appalling traction, limited range, strength of the competition
Isn’t this just an electric HR-V?
No – although it does look like one. The e:Ny1 shares its doors with the HR-V, but that’s it. Honda’s official line is that the HR-V looks exactly like how it wants its B segment SUV to look. So why change it for an EV model?
This car is really being aimed at drivers looking to get into their first electric car and Honda doesn’t want to scare anyone away with anything too drastic.
The e:N platform is capable of more drastic EVs in future, should Honda want to. It can support front, rear, and all-wheel drive configurations, while the underfloor battery pack gives reasonable freedom for the brand to bolt a different bodystyle on top.
For the e:Ny1, you get a 68.8kWh battery pack (61.9kWh usable) and a 201bhp electric motor driving the front wheels. It’s good for a WLTP range of 256 miles.
Can it do 256 miles?
Not in our experience, no. Honda hasn’t seen fit to equip the e:Ny1 with a heat pump, which improves winter range. That means that as soon as the temperature heads south of summer, the range plummets. It was not particularly cold in Peterborough while we were testing the e:Ny1, averaging 10-11 degrees. Yet the in-car display claimed the e:Ny1 could manage just 160 miles, and that ticked down largely in accordance with miles covered – so it wasn’t even caution or pessimism.
That works out to just over 2.5mi/kWh, which is unimpressive by any metric and worse than we managed in the decidedly brick-shaped (and 750kg heavier) VW ID. Buzz during the same period.
Even rivals without heat pumps can beat that. An MG4, which costs from just over £26,000, will do close to 200 miles per charge even in sub-zero winter temperatures. So will a Kia Niro EV (£37,295). So will a BYD Atto 3 (£37,695). A Kia EV6 will do closer to 280 miles. How much longer have you got?
When your battery goes flat, you’ll find out that the e:Ny1 has a maximum DC charge rate of just 78kW. That’s the same as a 2018 Hyundai Kona Electric, and compared with rivals that can top up at 150kW or higher it’s really off the pace. Honda claims a 10-80% charge is possible in 45 minutes, around 50% longer than most rivals.
What’s it like to drive?
A definite mixed bag. The good news is that Honda’s tuned the suspension for a reasonable blend between comfort and handling – the e:Ny1 deals effectively with the UK’s pockmarked tarmac. It doesn’t roll too much in the corners, and while the steering is far from communicative it’s relatively quick and accurate.
Honda claims 0-62mph is possible in 7.6 seconds but we’re not quite sure how this was tested. During our time with the car anything more than half throttle was met with bags and bags of wheelspin, as the motor’s instant torque overwhelmed the grip available from the front tyres.
Pulling out from a junction with any lock on would spin the inside wheel, and this means roundabouts and the like require planning. Nipping out into a small gap simply isn’t possible, as at the drop of a hat you might find yourself impotently spinning the front wheels and not going anywhere. Even once you’re up to speed the problem isn’t eliminated – pulling out to overtake a tractor at 30mph or so still led to a whirring as rubber desperately tried to contact tarmac.
This poor traction is something we expected from earlier EVs – the first-gen MG 5 was particularly bad for it – but it’s something that the latest crop has dealt with, either by limiting torque available from a standstill or simply improving traction from the front wheels. The fact that a brand-new, £45,000 EV hasn’t managed to eliminate it is shocking.
Could this be addressed with a different tyre? Potentially, but we’re loathe for any car – let alone one this expensive, to come with the caveat that one must replace the tyres immediately on purchase. And goodness knows the e:Ny1 doesn’t need a higher rolling resistance to diminish its range further.
What’s it like inside?
Honda’s fondness for straightforward interiors packed with intuitive panels of switchgear has gone out of the window for the e:Ny1. The dashboard’s dominated by a huge 15.1-inch, portrait-oriented infotainment system which deals with navigation, car functions, smartphone connectivity and – oh dear – climate controls.
The climate is housed in its own dedicated section at the bottom of the screen, above physical switches for the hazards and front and rear demister. Above that, the effect is very much like having two of the Civic’s infotainment screens stacked on top of each other.
At no point does Honda make use of the whole display, with a large sat-nav display or full-screen smartphone connectivity. Instead, you get your sat-nav or smartphone connectivity in an awkward window at the top, above a permanent section for native apps. And while there’s wireless Apple Carplay, Android Auto is still staunchly wired – and unreliable.
It’s not particularly difficult to use but it does feel like a real waste of real estate. It also rather alienates the sort of Honda buyer who might buy the e:Ny1 as ‘just a normal Honda, but electric’, as they’re likely to find the fully touchscreen interface a real turnoff.
Material quality is also lacking in some very obvious places, with hard, scratchy plastics adorning the dash top and centre console. Luckily, build quality is up to Honda’s usual high standards, and everything feels built to last.
Tall drivers might find the seat lacks adjustment – this tester’s 6’3 and had it as far back as it would go – but rear seat passengers will enjoy a reasonable amount of space. In Advance cars they also get their own sunroof, though its clip-on blinds are a lazy and awkward alternative to an electric or even a manual roller.
Boot space is also at somewhat of a premium, with just 361 litres on offer. Some underfloor storage is available to store the cables.
What else should I know?
Honda’s keen to make the ownership part of e:Ny1 life painless. To that end you get a five-year warranty, five years free servicing and five years of roadside assistance.
Honda also claims that the low maximum charge speed is geared towards maintaining the lifespan of the battery pack. Wise – it can’t afford to lose any more capacity.
Head of Automobiles for Honda UK, Rebecca Adamson, said: ‘While we cannot compete with Chinese manufacturers on price, we have 75 years of engineering experience.’
Honda, in other words, appreciates that other cars are cheaper and will go further. But the e:Ny1 is aimed at people looking to test the waters with an EV with a brand they know.
Honda’s first mainstream EV, the e, was deeply flawed in many ways, with a high price tag and an EV range that limited it to second-car duties for most people. But it was also fun to drive, with a cracking interior. It also looked fantastic – high-tech and eyecatching, we were sure that Honda’s next EV would keep the charm but improve the mechanicals.
The e:Ny1 as a followup is one of the biggest disappointments we’ve had in ages. It’s a dour SUV that doesn’t bring joy so much as ennui. Not a crime on its own – we challenge you to get excited by an MG ZS EV, for example – but one that simply has to be backed up with a good range, decent driving dynamics and a good-value price tag to even have a chance of being competitive.
The Honda e:Ny1 has none of those attributes. It’s poor to drive, with an almost dangerous lack of traction and uninspiring dynamics. The range and efficiency is appalling, especially in winter, once again relegating this to second-car duties for all but the least demanding.
It’s all made more disappointing by how fantastic the latest range of Hondas has been. The Civic hatch is one of our favourite family cars – its bigger brother, the CR-V, is similarly talented.
The e:Ny1’s foibles could all be forgiven if it was priced as an alternative to the MG4, the BYD Dolphin or even the Niro EV – but Honda’s asking as much for this car as you’d pay for some of the best EVs on sale. We can’t recommend the e:Ny1 without a serious bump in range or an even more serious drop in price.