Honda Insight 1.3 HYBRID i-VTEC Review
Economies of Scale

Story and Photos by Raymond Lai
17 Feb 2011

Honda's relatively affordable hybrid for the masses is now officially on sale. Raymond Lai lives with it for almost a week to investigate if there are any real benefits over a fuel sipping petrol car like Honda's very own Jazz.

Introduction, styling

In America, Hybrid models have been extremely popular ever since the Toyota Prius was highly publicized and glamourised by A-list Hollywood stars like Cameron Diaz and Harrison Ford driving theirs to red carpet events like the Oscars. Americans hence consider the Prius to be a cool car to have and this resulted in the popularity of the hybrids Stateside in recent times.

With such high demand for hybrid vehicles in the US, it's not surprising that car manufacturers are expanding their hybrid line-ups for the American as well as other markets. One of these brands is Honda. Together with Toyota, Honda has always been the forefront in hybrid technologies and vehicles. The latter introduced its first ever hybrid model, the Insight in 1999. The Insight though, failed to appeal to most car buyers as it was too expensive to buy, has a less practical two-door body style as well as quirky styling that featured covered rear wheel arches.

The original Insight was then killed off in 2006. The Insight moniker though, has now been revived on Honda's latest hybrid model. But this car is pretty different from its original namesake. While the original Insight was an acquired taste and unaffordable for Average Joe, the new one, launched in Japan, Europe and America last year is touted by Honda as the hybrid car for the people, which means it'll be hugely affordable and should appeal to a wider audience. So let's find out if the Insight has got what it takes to convince Average Joe to finally go for hybrid power.

The new Insight certainly looks different from its two-door predecessor but it's no less quirky looking thanks to its streamlined body. It's not a very pretty car, the Insight, its overhangs are pretty long relative to the wheelbase while the rear looks like it had been chopped off. The rear has strong hints from the old Insight thanks to the additional vertical glass window and triangular tail lamps. The Insight's awkward proportions might not be pretty but it does look inoffensive and Honda claims that the body is shaped this way in order to make it more slippery through the air, thus helping lower fuel consumption even further.

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Engine Capacity 1339cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10.8:1
Bore x Stroke (73.0 x 80.0)mm
Power 98bhp @ 5800rpm
Torque 121Nm @ 4500rpm
Power to Weight 98000 bhp per ton


Acceleration 12.4s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 180 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 22.7 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 4 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF


Body Type 5 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(4395 x 1695 x 1425) mm
Wheelbase 2550 mm
Kerb Weight 1,215 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 40 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Drums