HONDA INSIGHT: YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO
A Honda hybrid? Yes, but one with a little bit of NSX in it
Of course, extolling the green credentials of an Insight on PH is like having the benefits of teetotalism explained in the pub; that's not what anybody is here for. So, with an extra-thick Nomex suit on, here are the reasons why the Mk1 Insight is an acceptable PH hybrid for enthusiasts.
It was manufactured at Honda's low-volume Tochigi plant alongside the NSX and S2000, which is just cool. Moreover, it comes from a time when Honda was brave enough to pursue new technology and also appeal to the enthusiast, the latter of which is only currently being previewed with the next NSX. The MY2000 Honda model range would have included the Insight, Accord Type R, S2000, Integra Type R and NSX, plus there was a BTCC campaign. Admittedly, the Insight may not be performance icon of its stablemates, but it's a far more interesting range of cars than the current Insight fights for showroom space against. The Insight reminds us of Honda being desirable. Furthermore, it was the first mainstream petrol-electric hybrid sold in Europe, making it historically significant.
And there's more. The 1.0-litre engine not only provides an interesting noise thanks to its three-cylinder configuration, it has an aluminium head and block as well as magnesium components to again reduce weight. It provides 67hp, whilst the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) provides another 13hp and 25lb ft of torque. The IMA draws power from a 144-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack and a brushless motor just 60mm thick. A smaller battery pack means it's less expensive to replace too; reconditioned units are also available, and Insights have been known to cover 250,000 miles on their original.
Powertrain specs mean we best talk performance. With a fully-charged battery, Car&Driver in the US timed an Insight from 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds, a second faster than Autocar's time for the second-gen Insight tested in 2009. Taking times with a 50 per cent depleted battery and no IMA assist at all, the Insight's average 0-60mph time was 12 seconds. No fireball, but that's still quicker than today's crop of city cars. Top speed, no doubt thanks to its 0.25Cd, is 112mph.
Golf GTD in fact. Well, it shouldn't be too amazing, as that's the urban figure. The claimed combined fuel economy for an Insight is 83.1 mpg.
And don't think that's unachievable. Back in 2000, an Insight drove around Britain, a journey of 3,737 miles, whilst averaging 103mpg. Apparently the 'crowded south coast route to Exeter' dropped the early average to 88mpg. Shame.
On top of this, the Insight offers one of the funkiest interiors ever seen and shouldn't be too dreadful to drive either, notwithstanding the CVT gearbox. And this wedge of record-breaking, innovative, rare, intriguing Honda history can be bought for £2,750.
Why you should: It's a far more interesting (and efficient) car to commute in than a Golf diesel.
Why you shouldn't: Could maintaining the batteries be a nightmare?
See the original advert here