Buying an electric car these days is no longer an exercise in futility. Superminis, crossovers, city buses, even classic cars are being equipped with battery packs and electric motors in the industry-wide pursuit to make Mother Nature happy again. But one vehicle type seems to be missing from the domain of this drive for cleaner emissions: the hot hatch.
Yes, while everyone is going clean and green with electric power, there seems to be no electric rendition of the performance-oriented hatchback. Fiat’s 500e has no hot Abarth version, and the Ford Focus Electric doesn’t come with a spicy RS variant. The Volkswagen Golf GTE, meanwhile, isn’t even an electric car—it’s a plug-in hybrid. However, Honda may have just the thing to fill this void.
Enter the e Prototype. Cute little thing, this car is, with exterior styling derived from the Urban EV Concept from 2017, but also inspired by old Honda hatchbacks like the EF Civic and the City Turbo. No excessive indulgence in curves and sharp edges here as the car sports a clean and tidy look—appropriate for a city-dwelling ride which Honda envisions this runabout to be. In keeping with that theme, the door handles are retractable and the slim side mirror pods now house high-resolution cameras.
Even the inside is kept neat and simple. Anyone seated behind the two-spoke steering wheel has easy access to everything, thanks to an array of display screens spread across the dashboard. Speaking of seats, they are trimmed in a soft mélange-style fabric commonly found on couches. Therefore, occupants lounging inside the e Prototype will not miss the comforts of their living room too much.
The Honda e Prototype joins the ranks of the mental Renault Clio V6 as one of the very few rear-driven hot hatches
The e Prototype is built off a new Honda platform dedicated solely to electric vehicles. This is part of the Japanese carmaker’s “Electric Vision” initiative for the European market. This platform gives the e Prototype fast-charging capability, with batteries that can reach 80% capacity in just 30 minutes and a predicted range of over 200km. Also engineered into this platform is something that, apart from electrification, is not very common in hot hatchbacks: rear-wheel drive.
That’s right. The Honda e Prototype joins the ranks of the mental Renault Clio V6 as one of the very few rear-driven hot hatches. One purpose of the new EV platform is to deliver a fun driving experience similar to small sports cars. With the performance benefits of electric powertrains—such as maximum torque at zero rpm—the e Prototype should be a hoot to slide around corners like the Talbot Sunbeam.
As Honda resurrects its Type R performance line with the Civic, one can only imagine the potential hidden within the e Prototype should it get a hot version of its own. In the meantime, catch the premiere of this car at the Geneva Motor Show next week.