When the Toyota Prius exploded into life back in 1997 the world watched as Toyota took the rewards for responsible fuel efficient engineering. Since then other manufacturers have drooled over the sales figures and free publicity garnered by Toyota’s bold move. Hybrid is now a household term and copycat cars are fast flooding the market with near identical copies of the original. The Honda Insight is Honda’s current and, in my opinion, best attempt at capturing this lucrative and relatively new market.
Thankfully some of the more ambitious of the first generation design statements have been left on the cutting room floor (including the cartoon like idea of covering the rear wheels). The front end has also seen a significant redesign with a more prominent grill and hood which flow smoothly towards the windscreen. The engine on the new Insight is also slightly larger, moving from the 1.0 litre first generation to the 1.3 litre second generation.
With a four year gap between the manufacture of the last 1st generation model and the introduction of the 2nd generation a long list of modifications was expected and in this case it was delivered. Most notably the new Insight is bigger and marginally more powerful than the original.
From the outside it resembles the Prius on a level that disappoints those of us who were hoping Honda would supply a more aesthetically pleasing addition to the hybrid family. The lines are predictably boxy and frankly the car, like the Prius, reminds me of Hill Valley, year 2015 from Back to the Future 2. The one redeeming feature of the Insight is its sharpened front end; the grill and front bumper look a lot cleaner and more professional than the previous model.
With eco drive, cruise control, sat nav and lots of other goodies as standard it really is hard not to enjoy the interior of this car. The Insight offers stereo, information and cruise controls on the steering wheel and also manages to arrange the large number of buttons and dials in an altogether convenient manner. The boot space and the quality of the seating also lend further credibility to the interior of the car.
Despite the slow acceleration and lack of power the drive was intriguing, but not for the reasons you would expect. The game of lowering my fuel consumption (with the help of the super smart Eco-drive system) per 100 kilometres kept me engaged with the drive for much longer than I would have expected. Like all hybrids most of the drive features pointed towards the concept of keeping fuel consumptions down (accelerating using cruise control would not push the rev counter higher than 2000rpm in “Eco-drive” mode).
Despite being a little dull in terms of driveability the Insight is the absolute perfect fleet car for those looking to increase the “green” presence in their fleet. The fuel efficiency (when driven with efficiency in mind) is nothing short of spectacular. In my time with the green machine I managed to get the petrol consumption down to 4.4 litres per 100 kilometres, admittedly I may have been taking the fuel consumption game a little too far; but be that as it may the car still represents a significant opportunity for fuel cost savings.
Have you been won over by hybrid cars?
What do you think of the new Honda Insight?
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