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Honda’s adorable EV prototype is looking more and more like a real car

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Presto change-o: Honda’s Urban EV is now the e Prototype

Honda revealed more details Wednesday about the all-electric city car it first revealed back in 2017. One surprise: apparently the first version we saw, the Urban EV, was actually a prototype to the prototype; this latest version, dubbed the Honda e Prototype, will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next week. And as you can see, it’s still cute.

This adorably retro vehicle will go into production later this year, after which it will be available for purchase first in Europe, followed by other markets, Honda says. When that happens, the vehicle will be Honda’s first compact car on a dedicated EV platform. Honda claims it will deliver a range of over 200 km (124 miles) and a “fast charge” functionality of 80 percent battery charge in 30 minutes. We don’t have much else in terms of specs, but the interior is now looking more finished, and still retains that retro futuristic charm that is sure to appeal to a lot of car buyers.

Inside, three separate screens make up the instrument cluster and infotainment unit. Honda describes the interior:

To keep occupants engaged with their connected lifestyles, the intuitive and customizable dual screen horizontal display features a range of intelligent applications and services. This sophisticated high-end interface has been designed for ultimate usability and shifts the car beyond being a means of transportation to become fully integrated into modern everyday life.

Other design elements include flush “pop out” door handles and compact cameras replacing traditional side view mirrors. We’ve seen this before with Audi’s E-tron electric SUV, as well as a raft of electric concepts and pre-production models like Byton and Faraday Future. Still, Honda insists both the door handles and camera system “are unique features for a vehicle in this class.”

The car’s charging port is situated centrally in the bonnet under the front hood for ease of use from either side of the car, with LED lighting visible through the glass cover.

Earlier today, Volvo sub-brand Polestar unveiled its first all-electric vehicle, the Polestar 2, billed as a direct competitor to the Tesla Model 3. Without a price or other key specs, it’s hard to say with whom exactly Honda’s EV will compete, but based on its design and range, it seems like more of a direct rival to Daimler-owned Smart and its forthcoming electric Forease compact city car. Time will tell.

While Honda has just started to offer the Clarity EV in the US and Japan, the company once known as a pioneer of hybrids has fallen behind rivals such as Nissan in the electrification stakes. The city car is supposed to represent a clean start and indicate a fresh direction for Honda.

Euro-based journalists got their first look of the new prototype this week. Here’s some videos to give you a flavor of what we’ll being seeing at the Geneva Auto Show next week.