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Our Fleet Test Drive: Honda Insight - Final Report

Date: 20 September 2010   |   Author: Tony Rock

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £19,233
Key rival: Toyota Prius

The opening paragraph of our first report on the Insight, written at the start of April, read: "When Honda first announced at the back end of 2008 it was ready to launch the second-generation hybrid Insight, it bravely proclaimed the car would be the 'most significant for the corporate market in the past 10 years'."

A bold claim. The question is: has the car lived up to the brand's billing?

It certainly has several positive factors going for it. Our ES-T version is very well specified as standard, and includes an intuitive touch-screen satnav and audio controller that is a joy, plus I'm a fan of the array of multi-coloured displays on the dash, part of the Eco Assist System [1], which provides visual feedback on driving style and does, actually, encourage a greener approach. The car's also practical: the 408-litre boot [2], with the seats up, beats the VW Golf at 350 litres, Vauxhall Astra at 351 and Ford Focus at 385.

The problem the Insight faces, however, is the amount of negatives it has to contend with.

Of biggest concern is the split rear screen [3]. Designed, according to Honda, to "help the aerodynamics", it greatly reduces rear visibility. Also, despite being Euro NCAP's second highest-rated car for overall crash protection in 2009, the Insight suffered in its time with us from a perception of lacking adequate protection, presumably a result of the weight-saving measures used to keep CO2 down. It also has an unpleasantly hard ride that too readily transmits every bump in the road surfaces to a noisy cabin, though the last two issues are being addressed by Honda, with a revision to the car due imminently.

Less of a problem, but still irritating, our Insight proved curiously susceptible to punctures, too, suffering three in its time with us, although BusinessCar's tyre specialists, Watling Tyres, indicated there was no reason for this other than bad luck.

I wasn't keen on the looks, either, especially compared with Honda's other hybrid, the CR-Z, that is able to combine sub-120g/km emissions with style. In fact, if Honda could have incorporated some of that car's striking good looks and more comfortable and refined travelling experience into the Insight, and delivered a more respectable sub-100g/km CO2 emissions figure, than it may well have had a car that lived up to the launch rhetoric. As it is, while the five-door hybrid may well be a green alternative in the big-selling lower medium sector that features the likes of the Ford Focus and VW Golf, it struggles to compare with more recent, albeit pricier, additions to the magazine's fleet.

Honda Insight 1.3 IMA ES-T Hybrid CVT
Mileage5554
Claimed combined
consumption
61.4mpg
Our average consumption42.5mpg
P11D price£19,130
Model price range£16,325 - £20,215
CO2 (tax) 105g/km (10%)
BIK 20/40% per month£32/£64
Service interval1yr/12,500mls
Insurancegroup 6e
Warranty3yrs/90,000mls
Boot space (min/max)408/584 litres
Engine size/power1339cc/102hp
Top speed/0-62mph113mph/12.5secs
Why we’re running itCan Insight can match
Honda’s high
expectations?
PositiveDashboard green ‘driving
instructor’ tech
NegativeReduced visibility
through rear window



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