Why the Honda E is Honda's most exciting model
And it's not just because of the styling and technology.
My household once owned a Honda Jazz/Fit. It was a marvellous little vehicle that shipped everything we could cram into it, the 1.5-litre "power"house proving incredibly willing even if its flesh were weak. Time marched onward, and our family's needs changed. The Purplish-Blue unit had to be transferred to the next individual for their own daily hauls.
But between our acquiring of the Jazz/Fit and our selling, Honda's design team changed their attitude toward smooth lines and tasteful flourishes, discarding such notions in exchange for rulers, knives and anything sharp to add to their cars' bodywork.
I try to not get too hung up on a vehicle's appearance, especially if the car is supremely competent (and Honda's are), but "bold" cannot really fulfil the description of the direction that Honda went. The Civic now boasts its creased visage with the gusto of a costume designer on some 1970's science fiction movie, the CRV has more angles than a pushy salesman, and the halo car NSX has a sharpness that would make Wusthof recoil.
This cut-through design language slashed into each and every model, leaving me to wonder how Honda's entire range would look in a few years' time.
As an aside, this is not to be disparaging toward those who love the Honda Civic Type R for the precise reasons I outline above. To each their own. One man's beautiful is another man's gaudy and awful, while another man's "simple" is another man's "boring". The Type R appears to be a stonking car, even if when looking at one, I half expect it to transform into a bipedal robot.
When I saw the photos of the vehicle that Honda intended to produce as the "E", I did a double-take. Gone were the creases, slots and jags I'd associated with Honda's, and in their place were clean panels and understated front and rears. Simple, yet still modern while evoking some classics.
There was, I felt, some potential here in Honda creating a new design language for their range - even if it was perhaps only the EV segment of their brand that received the makeover. It's fresh. It's new. It's a level of restrained - although a restrained Honda would still out-flourish a hallucination inside any other designer's fever dream.
Yet, I have spent a great portion of this article articulating on style, when the actual aspect I am most curious for lies beyond the panels, and inside the cabin.
The Honda Fit/Jazz, the CRV and the Civic, in my experience, have some of the best - if not THE best - internal engineering of any Make I have cared to own or drive. Bar none. The sheer Tardis-esque nature of Honda vehicles has always astounded me, even without mention of the oft-lauded "Magic Seats".
The amount of stuff one could cram inside a Jazz/Fit was amazing. Passengers climbed into the rear of our supposedly tiny hatch and would automatically exclaim about the caverns of leg and head room. The boot/trunk was deep, and able to slam box after box of tools, drinks and Ikea packs you cared to hurl in there.
The sorcerers at Honda can do amazing things with internals.
One of the concessions I've always experienced with hybrid vehicles - and I've also heard some lamentations with the Porsche Taycan - is that the batteries take up space. A lot of it. If not for the passengers, then also in the cargo area. Try carrying anything larger than a kid's stroller and a few bags of crisps in the back of a Toyota Corolla Hybrid, and you'll find new and refreshing ways to express your disappointment - hopefully not in earshot of the brainsponges (and copycats) that are kids.
I am hopeful that this Honda E project would allow the magicians at Honda to attack the puzzle of how to fit peoples' needs into a car while they also ferry around hundreds of kilos of rare-earth metals. But if there's anyone I would trust to do that, it would be Honda.
Necessity is the mother of invention, it has been said. Writing this in 2019, the discussion on EVs has long circled around the issue of range, charge time and ultimate cleanliness of the technology. Yet seldom little is discussed on how the battery technology is currently in this state where they intrude on space. Until smaller energy sources are produced and deployed, I am curious what Honda can do with what is available today.
Because I prefer their sharpness to be on the car's smarts and not on the car's face.