Honda Insight Review: 2010 Model | Insight | Car Buyers Guide

2010 Honda Insight Review

These days when you hear "Hybrid" you automatically think of Toyota, but the first hybrid sold in Europe and North America was actually the original Honda Insight. For Honda is was something of an experiment, hence the futuristic styling and two-seater layout, whereas Toyota's Prius was sold as an alternative to the fuel-hungry family cars available at the time. So the Insight came and went rather quietly while the Prius just went from strength to strength, with eco-prat celebrities singing its praises, despite the fact it was the most dreary and uninspiring car imaginable.



The original Insight was a cracker, though. It wasn't fast but it was huge fun, and you sat low as if you were in some sort of bespoke sports car. The handling was also entertaining, despite the skinny tyres, and the controls all worked with satisfying Honda precision, although it was a constant battle to make sure there was enough charge in the battery so you'd have that vital few horsepower of overtaking boost when you needed it. It was a great car but, amazingly, it was taken a decade for Honda to get the lead out (and the Nickel-Metal Hydride in – little battery joke there) and launch a replacement for the quirky original. And we had to wait a few months longer than the rest of Europe because Honda Ireland didn't want to launch it in the middle of the year and waste all the press and PR at a time when nobody's buying cars. (Don't worry! This isn't the time or place for another rant about our stupid number plate system.)

So was it worth the wait? Truth is, I'm not really sure. My time in the car at its Irish launch was brief so I can't go into too much detail about its economy or what it's like to live with. In fact, all I really have are my first impressions. Looks-wise, the Insight borrows many of the hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity's styling cues and mashes them together with a few elements of the old Insight, and while there's nothing wrong with the detailing the car's overall proportions are a little odd. The overhangs are slightly too long for the supermini wheelbase and narrow bodywork and it's also too tall for its little wheels. Getting the slightly more expensive ES is worth it for the larger wheels alone.

Inside, it's disappointingly plasticky and there are vast gaps between, for example, the dashboard and the door panels. However, the low-down driving position and driver-centred cabin reminds me very much of the experience of driving the old Insight. These days, however, there are more displays to tell you how ecologically you're driving, with the digital speedo changing colour depending on the heaviness of your right foot and a little tree that 'grows' higher the greener you drive. Yick. Otherwise, the seats are comfortable, the view out is decent and spec levels are high with climate control, four electric windows, six airbags, 15-inch alloy wheels, six airbags and stability control (the Insight won New Car's Safety Award for 2010) all standard on the €22,378 base model. Shame it feels so tinny in there, not that the Toyota Prius is any great shakes in terms of cabin quality either.



To drive, the Insight is no ball of fire and while the figures suggest reasonable performance the reality is that on motorways and back roads, where a good diesel's fat mid-range comes into its own, the Insight's engine is howling in protest at being forced to give up its meagre 102hp. The "ECO" button makes it feel even slower but you feel reluctant to turn it off because, well, that's the raison d'etre of this car, after all. And then there's the air conditioning unit, which cuts out when the engine shuts down at idle, and the stiff ride quality, both reminiscent of the 10-year old Prius, although (as before) the trade off seems to be reasonably precise and entertaining skinny-tyre handling. There's not a lot of feel there, mind, but at least the steering is quick.

In the end, it feels as if the Honda has tried to straddle the gap between the original Insight and the all-conquering Toyota Prius and ended up falling between those two stools. It's not as grown up as the Prius, nor as quirky or futuristic as the original Insight and as a result it feels incomplete. Hybrid technology, even the pared-back version you’ll find in the Insight, is still expensive, so to make it competitive with diesel family cars Honda has had to make too many compromises. The Prius is a car you could buy in lieu of a diesel hatchback and never look back, whereas the Insight is a car you buy simply because you want to be green (or at least seen to be green). My advice is, if you want a Honda hybrid then buy the Civic Hybrid. It costs just €500 more than the Insight ES but feels like twice the car.

 

Info

Honda Insight 1.3 SE

 

Engine

1,339cc 4-cyl/electric motor

 

Power @ rpm

102hp@6,000,

200Nm@4,500

 

Transmission

CVT FWD

 

Acceleration

0-100km/h 12.5 seconds

 

Top speed

182km/h

 

Economy

4.4l/100km

 

CO2 emissions

101g/km

 

CO2 Tax Band

A (€104 p.a.)

 

Weight

1,240kg

 

Boot capacity

408l min, 584l max

 

Base Price

€22,378

 

On sale

Now

 

For

Image, value, safety spec

 

Against

Noisy, not fast

 

Rating

8/10

 

Compare specs to an alternative car!
€ 22,378 when New

Key Facts

New Price
€ 22,378
Make

Honda

Model
Insight
Variant
1.4 i-VTEC ES
First Launched
2010
Transmission
TipTronic
Engine & Transmission
CVT
Fuel type
Hybrid
Body Type
Saloon

Running Costs

Tax
190
Tax Band
A3
Average L/100km
3.09
Fuel Tank Capacity (L)
40
Fuel Tank Range (km)
1294
CO2 emmissions (g/km)
101

Performance

Driven Wheels
Front
Engine (L)
1339
Break Horsepower
86
Top Speed
181
Acceleration (0-100 km/h)
12.2
Cylinders
4
Fuel Tank Capacity (L)
40
Torque
121

Space & Practicality

Doors
5
Seats
5
Kerb weight
1240
Tyre Size Front
1240

Safety

Honda Insight (2010)

0/5
Pros

Cons

Our Rating 0/5
  • Performance
  • Ride & Handling
  • Refinement
  • Quality & Reliability
  • Safety & Security
  • Space & Practicality
  • Verdict
Verdict

Performance

Ride & Handling

Refinement

Quality & Reliability

Safety & Security

Space & Practicality


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