At the 2021 Shanghai Motor Show, otherwise known as Auto Shanghai, Honda brought along something called the SUV e:prototype, which looks an awful lot like the SUV e:concept they showed off late last year in Beijing.
Though some of its design elements differ (and have improved), the most obvious split between the two is its door count - the one seen in Shanghai has 5. Also note that the prior concept served as inspiration for the next-generation HR-V, and it’s easy to assume this SUV e:prototype is a preview of the automaker’s fully electric compact SUV.
The car here is also leaning closer to being a production reality than it is a show floor crowd pleaser as Honda has confirmed an on-sale window in the spring of 2022 as part of an electric 10-car plan for the Chinese market over the next 5 years.
Given its close visual resemblance to what we now know to be the incoming HR-V and what could be shared underpinnings, the SUV e:concept could emerge as a full EV variant of Honda’s hugely popular model.
It’s pretty much the same relation the Mercedes-Benz EQB has to the ‘normal’ of GLBs, or the EQA to the GLA, hence this EV-centric Honda sporting some significantly altered cosmetics over the standard range.
We don’t yet know how much Honda will choose to tone down this ‘prototype’ in between its appearance at Auto Shanghai and its journey into showrooms but it would be a shame to lose that very nice fascia. That light signature is certainly bold to match the square nose/jaw combo and nicely frames the illuminated logo, and despite it being an EV we still spy some cooling-related intakes low down.
Its HR-V-like profile is clearly seen when looking at its roofline and those rear door handles hidden around the C-pillar. Around the back we see a light bar joining the tail lamps and another placed at the edge of a tailgate spoiler. All very futuristic, but not excessively.
Unfortunately, the electric powertrain, its main attraction, was something not detailed by the automaker, but we can predict it will need to have some fairly decent range to keep up with the other mass-market brands also competing in the same EV space - many of them homegrown - even if it doesn’t particularly impress on performance.
The very latest, third-generation version of Honda Connect will also make its way into the production version of the SUV e:prototype, featuring a selection of connected services and A.I-powered convenience functions.
It’s frustrating when automakers roll out an impressive vehicle that could have a huge impact on one of their most successful current nameplates but don’t furnish it with the proper details, especially when such a vehicle is supposedly so close to its finished production form, as is the case here.
We’ll definitely keep an ear to the ground about any new developments on the SUV e:concept as it inches closer to its early 2022 debut. Hopefully, Honda will leave that silly name far behind as well.
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