Honda Insight Hybrid 1.3 Review
An Insight to behold

Story & pictures by Saiful Azzam, reporting from Osaka, Japan
19 Jul 2009

So who will the Insight attract?

Honda Insight

I remembered reading through Readers Digest and saw a funny looking car which runs on batteries and fuel. And that was when Toyota's Prius debuted in 1997. It looked like any ordinary car, but surprisingly it was small when I saw it on TV another time.

Since then, the hybrid rush came in - with Honda, Ford and others which comes in different shapes and sizes.

What amazed me was this segment of the automotive industry isn't that profitable, but instead making losses due to high production cost - and sales that didn't really kick-off. However, I strongly believe the initial step taken by these manufacturers was not on making money out of it, but sparking the awareness and importance of eco-friendly vehicles.

In fact, Toyota has now gone into its third generation Prius and also various light hybrid vehicles, bigger hybrid vehicles as well as Lexus hybrids.

Putting those aside, what about Honda? Some of us may have remembered how the first Honda Insight - back then - was another oddly shaped car with half covered rear wheels. Plus, it didn't have the practicality of a sedan, the power of a 1.5-litre car and the decent look of a Volkswagen Golf - true, it was neither here nor there, but it was made for the sole purpose of introducing to the world Honda's hybrid vehicle.

Now, Honda is back with their new Insight - with a more subtle yet practical looks. Can it still attract the regular crowd?


The Insight, somewhat, is a resemblance of the Hydrogen-powered FCX, incorporating a low slung roof and a unique bumper design - which may seem taken off the Volkswagen Passat CC with the side profile of a Toyota Prius. This car has some trademarks of a Honda, such as the two-tone bumper with a hexagonal headlight unit - similar to the Civic or City - and the triangular LED tail lights which was obviously inspired from the previous generation Insight.

Personally, I find the design of the Insight more inspiring than that of an oddly-proportioned Toyota Prius. Perhaps it's the curvatures, angles and proportion that makes it look like a decent car.

It might look as big as the Prius at first glance, but in reality, this isn't the case. At 4,390mm long, 1,695mm wide, and 1,425mm tall (compared to the Prius' 4,450mm x 1,725mm x 1,490mm), it is more comparable to the Nissan Note or even the Renault Kangoo (which is a different segment). Getting familiar with the size and performance of the car, it is a totally new segment on its own - a compact hybrid car. This is a car that is good to be driven to the market or a nearby grocery store or to the office, saving inches on the bustling traffic from Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur.

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Honda Insight Hybrid 1.3 (A)

Research this Car


Engine Capacity 1339cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10.8:1
Bore x Stroke (73 x 80)mm
Power 98bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 123Nm @ 1000rpm
Power to Weight 79.4 bhp per ton


Acceleration 12.3s (0-100 km/h)
Fuel Consumption (combined) 18.2 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 4 -speed Manual
Drive Type FF


Body Type Sedan
(L x W x H)
(4390 x 1695 x 1425) mm
Wheelbase 2250 mm
Turning Circle 5.5 metres
Kerb Weight 1235 kg
Boot Capacity 450 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Drums