REVIEW: Honda Insight
Rising environmental awareness and burgeoning petrol prices have spurned many consumers to search for alternative and affordable means of transport, and in the past few years hybrid vehicles have gained high media interest, more so attributed to celebrities such as Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio being seen plodding around Hollywood in them!
The Government must be lauded for introducing greater incentives for end-users to run hybrid vehicles thanks to its decision in the last Federal Budget to grant full excise duty exemptions on hybrid vehicles below 2000cc.
Honda Malaysia has been able to take full advantage of this, and has brought to us the 2nd-generation Honda Insight, the most affordable fully-imported vehicle currently available in Malaysia at only RM 98,000.00 on the road.
For less than six figures you get a well-built, thoughtfully-designed economical runabout vehicle suitable for the young Malaysian family. The controls are well positioned and the interior is cosy, with a flat rear floor making it easy for kids to muck around at the back. There are numerous cubbyholes and cup holders, with dark cloth material blanketing the seats. The boot is large but not deep, as the battery pack is located underneath.
The Insight runs on a combination of a petrol-driven 1.3-litre engine sporting i-VTEC and 65 kW (88 hp) supplemented by an electric motor which adds 10 kW (14 hp). However, more importantly and as is common with electric motors, it is the linear torque curve and additional 78 Nm of torque that plays a very important and overlooked role, as it boosts total torque to 199 Nm. That’s equivalent to the torque output of a 2-litre engine!
The meter console features a couple of functions that you can play around with, all related to the eco-personality of the Insight. Above and beyond the now usual Fuel Consumption and Range information, there is an ‘Eco-Scoring’ function and ‘Energy Flow’ display. I suppose there are some which will gain much joy trying to chase a high Eco-Score with every drive they make, all for the longevity of mankind on planet Earth.
I must admit that I initially had negative feelings for the car, even though I had never driven one, based purely on its styling alone: futuristic and sleek it is, manly and bruising it is not! However it did not take long for me to begin to enjoy the Insight for more than what it is – a penny-pinching fuel-saving hybrid – as the drive is a very pleasant experience, especially around town where most owners will undoubtedly run it day-in day-out.
This is where the magic of that bulky but linear torque delivery matched to the CVT gearbox comes in: once you find that sweet spot, the Insight can actually be shunted along pretty rapidly in the City’s traffic and tight lanes, whilst using the minimal amount of fuel. I did gun it pretty quick at some points, managed some high-speed highway cruising and even some corner thrashing: although not part of the product brief, the Insight handled it all very well indeed.
Very affordably priced and combined with Honda’s record for high-quality and reliability, the Insight is a practical car for the practical family. And it’ll help you sleep a little better at night knowing you’ve made a change for the sustainability of the environment.