It has been ten years since the first Honda Insight went on sale.
It has been ten years since the first Honda Insight went on sale. It was Honda's way of trying to get us to share the company's ecological ethos.
Unfortunately, although the hybrid system worked well, the battery took up a lot of space and, in order to make it affordable, it had to be heavily subsidised, but was still expensive enough to put off some of the potential customers.
Since the first Honda Insight, these problems have been addressed through the Honda Civic hybrid and excellent Honda Civic IMA and gradually, battery technology and weight-saving measures have improved to give us the new Honda Insight.
According to various research, it was found that people tend to think of hybrids as expensive. In an effort to keep costs down, Honda endeavours to keep production in-house and the benefits are passed on to customers with prices for the new Honda Insight ranging between £15,890 and £20,915. This depends on trim level, of which there are three: SE, ES and ES-T. As I recall, that is cheaper than the original, so the belt-tightening has worked.
The new Honda Insight is not as futuristic as the old one. The covered rear wheels have gone to be replaced by the more normal variety and, as you would expect, the styling is that of a modern, 5-seat, family hatchback and is based on the FCX Clarity concept car.
Starting at the front, the Honda Insight's integrated bumper dips down at the very front to allow room for the lower grille. The upper bumper contour borders the lower edge of the headlight clusters and in between is a slim grille, ahead of the nicely curved bonnet.
There is still a distinct wedge shape to the body, flowing from the large windscreen to the somewhat truncated rear end. Just like the Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight has a split rear windscreen; the smaller lower window is almost upright while the larger area above is separated by a spoiler, which is as red as the triangular tail-light clusters.
As mentioned, the bank of batteries used to take up a fair amount of space and restricted the luggage capacity. They are now housed under the boot floor, so that problem is solved. In fact the carrying capacity is on a par with many other hatchbacks at 408-litres with the seats up and increasing to 584-litres when they are folded. Not only that, but there is still room for a deep cubby under the boot floor, in which to hide valuables. The luggage cover extends over the boot area as far as the spoiler split and there is a pull-up screen for the lower glazed section, just to make sure that prying eyes cannot see in.
It has to be said that the bodywork does sound a little thin when tapped but this is part of the weight-saving measures and the shut lines and joins are tight, which makes a difference to the perceived quality.
Honda Insight Road Test Data
|Model Reviewed||Honda Insight IMA ES-T|
|Colour||Alabaster Silver Metallic|
|Performance (manufacturers data)|
|0 - 62 mph||12.5 Seconds|
|Top Speed||113 mph|
|Transmission||CVT Automatic Gearbox|
|Fuel Type||Hybrid ( Unleaded Petrol / Electric)|
|CO2 Emissions (NEDC Figures)||g/km|
|Economy (NEDC Figures)|
|Extra Urban||62.8 mpg|
|Euro NCAP Rating||TBA|
|Warranty||3 years / 90000 miles|
|Price (when tested on the 05/08/09)||£18,390|