The Insight revives an old model name but the philosophy is very different this time. The brief was to make a practical family hatch with low CO2 emissions and regulated emissions, but crucially it had to be affordable. If hybrids are to move beyond the niche market and sell in really big numbers they have to be cheaper.
We think that Honda has fulfilled its brief. The Insight will take four adults in comfort, it has a big boot (408 litres), it’s a hatchback with folding rear seats, it’s well specified, it can achieve low CO2 emissions and regulated emissions and not only does it undercut existing hybrids but it undercuts the best diesels too.
So it’s all great? Not quite. Honda has been able to save space and money by making the hybrid bits more efficient but to meet their price targets they have still had to cut corners. The dashboard design is a little messy and the material quality isn’t as high as we have come to expect.
The Insight handles well and is generally refined apart from under hard acceleration when the engine revs rise disproportionately thanks to the CVT gearbox. Thankfully ES, ES-T and EX specifications get 7 ratios programmed into the CVT which gives you a semi-automatic option, which is great news if you don’t like full automatics.
Performance is adequate rather than sparkling and there is some disappointment that it doesn’t duck under 100 g/km, but this is missing the point a little. At 101 g/km the Insight has very low CO2 emissions and the compromises mean that they have kept the price down which means that it should sell in larger numbers.