Our Fleet Test Drive: Honda Insight - 1st Report
05 April 2010
Author: Tony Rock
 A 'plant' shows up on the dash to indicate 'econ' is on
|Category:|| Lower medium|
|P11D price:|| £19,233|
|Key rival:|| Toyota Prius|
When Honda first announced at the back end of 2008 it was ready to launch the second-generation hybrid Insight, it boldly proclaimed the car would be the "most significant for the corporate market in the past 10 years".
That kind of billing simply cannot be ignored, so having already conducted two short-term test drives of the new Insight, BusinessCar thought it time to see what the car was like to live with for an extended period.
The Japanese brand's confidence no doubt stems partly from the fact that the five-door hybrid would be competitively priced and a genuine green alternative in the big-selling lower medium sector that features the likes of the Ford Focus and VW Golf.
It's also well-specified. We've taken delivery of the ES-T spec version, the top rung of three trim levels (the others being the entry-level SE and mid-range ES), and its decent spread of standard kit includes 16-inch alloys, voice-recognition satnav, heated front seats and cruise control. The only option that's been added is the £400 cerulean blue metallic paint.
The main talking point, however, is the eye-catching eco displays on the dash, part of Honda's Eco Assist System, that are intended to encourage fleet drivers to improve their economy. They include what the company calls a 'guidance function', which is the digital speedometer  providing a real-time response to aggressive braking or accelerating by changing colour from green to blue, and a 'scoring function', a set of plants that shed or grow leaves, and reflect, at the end of each journey how fuel-efficient your driving has been. There's also an 'econ' button  , which limits power and adjusts the throttle auto gearbox, cruise and aircon (a 'plant' shows up on the dash to indicate it's on ).
Throw in a petrol-electric 102hp hybrid engine featuring stop-start and emissions of 105g/km, continuously variable transmission (CVT) that, says Honda, helps improve mpg and CO2 over a standard automatic system, and the company reckons real-world consumption will be nearer the laboratory figures (61.4mpg in this case) than any other car.
We're in possession of the Insight's keys for six months, which should be plenty of time to assess if it can live up to Honda's expectations.
|Honda Insight 1.3 IMA ES-T Hybrid CVT|
|Claimed combined |
|Our average consumption||42.4mpg|
|Model price range||£16,225-£19,290|
|CO2 (tax) ||105g/km (10%)|
|BIK 20/40% per month||£32/£64|
|Boot space (min/max)||408/584 litres|
|Why we’re running it||Can Insight can match |
|Positive||Congestion charge |
|Negative||View through rear |