What is it?
Honda’s answer to the Toyota Prius. The Insight is Honda’s stab at a hybrid family hatchback with green aspirations and the same kind of low- cost, carbon-conscious motoring that we’ve come to expect from the petrol-and-electric-motor crowd. Between them, the 1.3-litre petrol engine and the rear-mounted electric motor muster a lukewarm 97bhp, so thrills aren’t high on the agenda. If you can live with the generally dull nature, though, the Insight is a clean and reasonably practical way
of coping with family life.
Again, thrill-seekers need not apply. The Honda Insight is about as staid as it gets on the driving front. The steering is devoid of any feedback to the point where it’s almost totally numb, nor is the handling anything much to write home about. You might think that the Insight would make up for these shortcomings with reasonable refinement, but it’s not much good at that, either. There’s a lot of road- and wind noise audible from the inside, and the suspension doesn’t cope with our ruined British roads well, so it’s pretty loud and bumpy. As for the engine/ electric motor, they do a reasonable job of propelling the Insight at low, urban speeds, but stray outside a 30mph limit, and the paltry power output and slack CVT gearbox really struggle. An economy switch limits power on the move in the interests of saving fuel, which is fine if you’re trundling along at low speed, but strangles the Honda even further otherwise. If you never leave town, then it’s fine, but anyone who does will find themselves severely compromised.
On the inside
Honda’s penchant for futuristic cabins is well documented, and the Insight is no exception. It’s all very space-aged, with a plethora of neon lights and a digital speedo. User-friendly though it is, that can’t disguise the below-par quality of the materials. Scratchy, naff plastics abound, and it just seems very cheap. More problematic is the twin- section rear screen, which hampers visibility, so reversing is a real chore. On the plus side, there’s loads of legroom for front and rear passengers and, at 408 litres, the boot is bigger than that of a Ford Focus, which renders the Honda pretty practical.
According to Honda, you’ll get between 61 and 64mpg out of the Insight depending on exactly which
version you go for. Again, that’s fine if you’re leaning on the electric motor at low speed most of the time, but in real-world driving, don’t expect much more than 45–50mpg. However, kit levels are generous, and the Honda costs significantly less than its rival from Toyota, so there’s a case to be made for it. Emissions of either 101 or 105g/km aren’t quite low enough to get it off the road tax or congestion charge hook, though.