Honda has been pretty busy of late, what with the hybrid Z-RV and a revised HR-V arriving at basically the same time as this, the Honda e-Ny1 – the brand’s new sub-compact SUV. It’s also the Japanese carmaker’s second full-on electric model, alongside the much-loved but seldom-purchased Honda e. That car was and is great for smaller runs, but the battery’s too small and the price too high for it to make sense to a lot of people.
The e-Ny1 is unlikely to be cheap either, of course, as is the case for all models from this brand. It sits on Honda’s all-new e:N Architecture F platform, which offers front-wheel drive, a range of up to 256 miles and recharging from 10-80 per cent in around 45 minutes.
There’s nothing too dazzling with any of that, which means that Honda is going to have a job to convince fans of other brands into buying the e-Ny1. But, anyone who loves a Honda will find a lot to like with the e-Ny1, with the main thing being its quality feel. Here’s my full review.
The Honda e-Ny1 may not roll off the tongue, but this all-electric SUV has the potential to be much more of a success than Honda’s compact city EV, the Honda e. It’s classic Honda fare, with excellent build and finish, and while the design is more practical than exciting, it does everything you could want from a smaller SUV format.
- Build quality
- Fab infotainment screen
- Excellent interior vibe
- Cheaper rival options
- Looks a little too upright
- Innocuous from some angles
Cool exterior looks
The Honda e-Ny1 isn’t a real headturner and, from some angles, comes across as slightly innocuous. However, for a Honda that’s not really a negative because fans of this brand are generally sensible people who want sensible cars. Therefore, take a wander around the exterior and it’s all pretty much meat-and-potatoes, sub-compact SUV fare.
Again, that’s not being down on the Honda e-Ny1 as it’s actually very good on the eyes, with some cool colours on offer that help to accentuate the body lines. Our test car looked good in Aqua Topaz but the Platinum White, Crystal Black, Urban Grey and Vermilion Red shades work well too. All cars get 18-inch alloys along with plenty of glossy black contrasting trim elements around the car to break things up a bit. The other thing that’s accentuated by the styling is just how far off the ground this car looks, with a bolt upright stance that makes you wonder how it’s going to handle in the bends.
In terms of size then you’re getting a car that’s similar in stature to the HR-V and there are curves in all the right places. We think the Honda e-Ny1 looks best from the front, with its sleek black grille and headlight combination working well with the lighter colours in the palette. There are conventional door mirrors, in contrasting black too, with protruding door handles on the front doors and recessed ones at the back of the rear doors.
Around the back, there’s not too much to get excited about, although Honda has spelt out its name rather than opt for the conventional ‘H’ badge. The taillights are fairly muted but the overall look is lifted a bit by the continued dominance of black plastic trim highlights and the minimalist inclusion of chrome here and there.
Up on top, the roof is dominated by a panoramic glass panel, which makes a big difference when it comes to lifting the mood inside.
Cockpit delivers quality
Slide into the cabin area of the Advance trim Honda e-Ny1 and it’s here where it feels like the real money has been spent. This is a quality place to be, with a generally great use of materials and contrasting trim ideas. The real treat here is the central portrait-oriented 15.1-inch touchscreen that really dazzles thanks to its vibrant and wonderful crisp look and feel. The 10.25-inch digital instrument panel is similarly impressive and the pair work together to give driver and passengers a great visual experience.
Honda has divided up the main screen with a neat series of segments too, with the top chunk reserved for key information, including a very good sat-nav system. Underneath that, you can gain reasonably easy access to the likes of audio settings and check up on EV performance too. The graphics really are excellent and it’s great to see everything in action as you head on down the road.
Climate controls sit in the bottom segment, which as with anything touch-operated, works with a reasonable degree of success – though buttons, knobs and dials still work better.
There’s electric adjustment of the driver’s synthetic leather seat, but only manual levers on the passenger one. No matter, both are very comfortable and this upbeat vibe extends to the back row too.
In fact, with five doors and five seats on offer, plus the benefit of the panoramic sunroof and light coloured trim, the overall feel inside the cockpit of the Honda e-Ny1 is one of the highlights of the new car. The boot is far from cavernous, but it’s okay at 344 litres with the seats up.
Dependable and thrilling
Like pretty much any EV these days, driving the Honda e-Ny1 is straightforward, with Drive, Park and Neutral selections to push in the centre console. From there, it’s simply a case of putting your foot down and heading off. The car feels quiet, as you’d expect, although pick up the pace a bit and there is some noise from the tyres.
There’s enough power at hand too, with the 150kW motor proving very capable thanks to 310Nm of torque on tap. However, the feel of the Honda e-Ny1 doesn’t really prompt you to push it as much as you might like. The design of the interior induces quite a calm sensation, which leaves you feeling less reluctant to put the hammer down. It’ll still get from 0 to 60mph in 7.6 seconds though, which isn’t bad for a 1756kg SUV with a top speed of 99mph.
Thankfully, any minor worries about the handling due to the high-up nature of the ride are soon dispelled once you head for the hills. The Honda e-Ny1 handles well enough, though there is some roll if you give it the beans into more acute curves in the road.
The view out the back is actually better than expected, although there is naturally a reversing camera and sensors for when you need them in those trickier parking spaces.
Easy to charge
When it’s time to charge, the Honda eNy1 offers up an easy visual guide to how things are progressing once you’ve plugged in. A black strip incorporated above the charging port illuminates while it’s being used and displays various pulses depending on the status of the charge. There’s a supplementary My Honda+ app, which you can use on your phone if you want more precise information on charging, along with the ability to tweak charge settings where it’s useful.
This could be useful if you’re in a location with a fairly low power source because it lets you adjust the maximum current for AC charging, thereby avoiding any issues of tripping a power breaker. Generally speaking though, the Honda eNy1 is easily catered for by simply plugging it into a charger and letting it get on with the job.
That said, the maximum charge capacity for the Honda e-Ny1 is just 78kW, so it’s just as well the 68.8kWh battery isn’t any bigger really.
The Honda eNy1 is, for the most part, a success story, which should hopefully attract rather more buyers than the Honda e managed. It drives well enough, the range is more than adequate for most people who will own it and, above all, it feels like a quality product, with pricing that starts at £44,995, going up to £47,195 for the Advance grade tested here.
Although the looks aren’t quite as dazzling as they perhaps could have been, it seems likely that Honda fans will warm to the car. And, even if you’re not a particular fan of the Japanese carmaker and its models, a quick sit inside that rejuvenating interior might persuade you to think otherwise.
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