Honda e comes fully charged with a holiday technician

Honda is one of the most exciting small electric vehicles to date and, at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, First has a chance to get up close and personal with the cute compact. We last saw this car during Milan Design Week and it was in prototype form, though to be honest it hasn't changed much now that Honda has finished versions available for pre-order.

It's been a long road to get to this point, and although the design seems to be just about right out of the box, talking to Honda staff at Frankfurt revealed that the car has been a bit of a rough ride so far. It appears that Honda's executives were not originally marketed as small electric car designs for short trips. However, the price of the compact city car has been unveiled in Frankfurt, with two different options to go for. So now the Honda e cards are on the table.

Honda and

The first is the base-level 100kW model, which will cost from £26,160 (roughly $33, AU$000), but a more attractive option seems to be the Honda e-Advance, which has a price tag of £48,000 (around $28,600, AU$36,000). The extra money gets a more powerful 53,000kW battery plus the benefit of additional technology not seen on the cheaper edition. Neither car is cheap, but there's plenty here to lure buyers away from competing options like the upcoming Mini Electric and the new Renault Zoe.

There's a lot to like about the Honda E, too, with looks that combine the retro appeal of the old Honda Civic MK 1 with a sleek, stylish vibe that feels like a bang to date. No artsy bits either; Honda her style is simple but effective, and more memorable for her. Pop out door handles are cool and reduce drag while the front and rear lights are very cool. Everything about the Honda E gets a nod on the exterior.

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Technician-laden

Up close look at the car, in particular its very interesting interior - we chatted with Kouhei Hitomi, head of Honda E, and Mirai-OPP, head of communications, who seemed to have calmed down and are accordingly proud that the car is almost ready. Mirai-Aki went on to give us a tour of that interior, with the tech-laden dashboard as the main source of interest. It's hard not to notice exactly, with the central part dominated by two 12.3-inch touch screens.

There are also six-inch screens at each end that show camera views mounted on the front doors. The side mirror camera system replaces conventional mirrors and the effect is impressive to have a normal or wide view on offer. But regarding the conventional cassette controls in the steering wheel nook, Honda's dashboard is something, it would be nice to have a drive and see how it works in a real situation.

Honda and

Before we got into the car to hear about its charms, Mirai-OPP showed how you can open the car using your phone with the Honda+ app installed. It's a similar story once you get started with the Honda e. The car comes with its own personal assistant, which has been designed so that it can evolve as it becomes more familiar with your personal preferences.

So, for example, say "OK" to Honda when you add a question or instruction, and it will respond accordingly, with a combination of vocal reply and something appearing on the screen in front of you. Mirai-Aki showed how good he was at telling us about the weather, which is pretty basic stuff, sure, but there's still plenty of scope with the system, and as Honda says, machine learning means it'll get better the more you use it.

Honda and

Elsewhere, the five-door car's interior is fairly simple, with functional seat covers and enough room for four adults. There are a few faux wood trims along the dash that provide another blast from the past, while the rest of the fixtures remind you of why Honda has such a good reputation for quality. Doors, especially next to a reassuring blow.

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Real aura of pleasure

While we're still to go in one, reports on how Honda e drives seem to be generally positive. While the little car is, in fact, designed as something to use for a short distance, you should be able to cover about 136 miles on a full charge. Honda also has an advantage in the moment you get the electric motor from 0-100km/h climbs in a perky eight seconds.

Another advantage is that the car has a turning radius of just 4,3 meters, which, combined with rear-wheel drive and decent weight distribution, means it should be a lot of fun to drive. The stress of finding a place in the city's jailhouse is relieved with semi-offline parking, and there's also a rearview mirror that doubles as a digital rearview camera. You'll need to splurge and go for an advanced edition to enjoy all the tech conveniences like wireless Wi-Fi hotspots, but they'll be worth it from what we've seen so far.

Honda and

Honda needs a bit of luck with the Honda e; While he has certainly provided us with many interesting machines over the years, like the NSX, S2000 and Type R models, he has also gone through a lot of finning to produce slightly dull models.

The Honda E gives a real aura of fun and, while it doesn't have crazy speed, it feels like it should be big around town. The various funky color options should also make sure you don't miss the car, or really baring its occupants for that matter.

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