The new Honda e:NS1 electric SUV has made its Chinese debut, giving us an early glimpse at the car’s styling and specifications before its European launch.
Honda’s new e:NS1 will go on sale in China in spring 2022 – and it’s expected to appear in western showrooms later in the year as a rival for the Hyundai Kona Electric and Peugeot e-2008. The company has already confirmed its plans to export the SUV globally, along with nine more e:N-badged electric vehicles over the next five years.
As this launch is Chinese market-specific, there’s a chance the e:NS1 nameplate could be changed before the EV reaches the UK. The car should keep the same mechanicals as the Chinese model, though, meaning it’ll have a 68.8kWh battery, a 201bhp motor and maximum range of around 300 miles.
Around this time last year, Honda gave us a taste of how its the e:NS1 could look with the SUV e:Concept – and it seems the production model has carried forward its design language. This production-spec car has gained two extra doors at the rear, but the grille shape, slim headlamps and prominent front bumper lip have all made it into production.
The EV’s silhouette is also similar, while the full-width rear light is a similar shape as the concept’s, although it is a little thicker than before. Even the alloy wheels sport the same multi-spoke design, albeit scaled back to a more sensible 18-inch diameter.
Honda bosses have previously confirmed to Auto Express that this new electric SUV will be based on a stretched version of the Honda e hatchback’s platform, which makes space for the taller body and a larger boot. It’s expected that the SUV will sit somewhere between the popular Jazz Crosstar model (which accounts for over 50 per cent of all Jazz sales) and the new HR-V when it comes to its dimensions.
While we haven’t seen the new car’s interior, we’re expecting a similarly futuristic layout to the e hatchback, with dual 12.3-inch displays mounted on the dash. The infotainment system will be complemented by Honda’s latest Connect system, which features smartphone connectivity and over-the-air updates.
However, despite the similarities between the two cars, these new images suggest that Honda won’t carry the e’s digital side-view cameras onto the SUV – at least not as a standard fixture. There’s a set of conventional door mirrors clearly pictured in the images.
Jean-Marc Streng, Honda’s UK boss, recently talked us through the company’s EV strategy, although the timescales appear to have changed since our meeting. He said: “We are going to bring a new model of BEV in 2023 – that’s the next step, which will help us to have a wider offer.”
Streng’s timeline seems to be about a year out based on this launch event, but he could have been referring to the car’s eventual arrival in Europe. Neither he nor Honda have given away any details on the European version of the car, but Streng did say: “It’s going to be an offer in the right segment, which will achieve more sales.”
The Honda e city car is already doing strong business, bringing new, younger customers to the firm. “We have more than 85 per cent conquest customers,” said Streng. “So we’re bringing new customers to the brand and seeing a decrease of the average age.” In just two years, the average age of a Honda buyer has dropped by four years, according to Streng.
This new electric SUV will join a refreshed Honda line-up that will be fully electrified by 2022. Streng explains: “Our target was to be electrified by 2022 and we are going to achieve this goal, which is nice because certainly in the UK it’s eight years before the government’s plan.
“We have hybrid for Jazz and Jazz Crosstar, we open orders for HR-V in August and launch the car in October – and having driven the car in Japan, you get a seamless transition between the three modes: petrol, hybrid and free electric. We have CR-V hybrid and we will come with a new Civic next year, which is electrified.”
New 2022 Honda e SUV: powertrain and range
Honda hasn’t officially issued any technical details for its new electric SUV, but a leak from the Chinese patent office (coupled with some info from the Chinese launch event) confirms that it’ll be available with a choice of two electric motors, offering either 180bhp or 201bhp. The leak also confirms the SUV will have a top speed of 93mph.
The SUV’s added size and weight has forced Honda to fit a larger 68.8kWh battery pack, compared with the e’s 35.5kWh unit. Chinese market material claims that’s enough for a maximum range of 310 miles, although those figures were logged under the country’s more lenient test protocol. However, we expect the SUV will achieve a range figure close to 300 miles by the time it passes through WLTP homologation.
Like the hatchback, 50kW rapid charging will also come as standard, which will allow the SUV’s battery pack to take on an 80 per cent charge in around 30 minutes. Connected to a more conventional 7kW home wallbox, the Honda e’s tech means a full charge takes just over nine hours. Again, this capability should be transferred onto the SUV.
Honda has also released details on the production SUV’s planned range of safety equipment. The finished EV will have a new 360-degree driver assistance system, which the company says will offer “improved recognition, predication and decision-making” skills compared with its current set-up, suggesting this new crossover will offer a higher level of autonomous driving capability than the rest of the firm’s line-up.