The Toyota Prius has been the Hybrid standard bearer for years since 1997. Many have challenged that supremacy over the years, many came and failed, some lingered and scheduled when they would quit, while others still keep persevering, which brings us to the best of them all at the moment, the 3rd generation Honda Insight. We tested a Cosmic Blue Metallic top-range Touring variant of the Honda Insight and we were left with a very positive impression.
Like the current 4th generation Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight uses a fully independent rear multi-link suspension but it looks and drives like a genuine standard compact car. The Prius finally rides and handles well but the Insight is so much better. With the Ford Fusion Hybrid going the way of the Dodo soon, the Honda Insight has slotted in as my new top dog for the segment. The Insight is more affordable than the slightly larger outgoing Fusion, comes with more standard equipment and guess what, it is also the most dynamic in its class! It is the best handling, best braking, and swiftest among all the segment Hybrid compact sedans.
The only negative thing that I can point out though about the Insight is that the harder you do push the sedan the exhaust/engine sounds very brash. Not just bad but inconsistently coarse as the onboard computer manages the transition between gasoline and electric propulsion. Thankfully the 10-speaker 450-Watt Premium Audio System integrated with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system helps drown it out somewhat but it is really odd and unfortunate.
The actual power delivery is smooth and linear but your ears will tell you different. The Insight’s hybrid system fundamentally sits between the standard blended configuration pioneered by the Toyota Prius and the Chevrolet Volt’s extended range generator system that does not have a direct drive to the front wheels. So, the gasoline engine of the Insight acts like a generator under normal load powering the electric motors and when required will engage a clutch to connect it directly to the front wheels. Pity too than the Insight was engineered to produce only a net of 151 hp despite actually producing more than that separately. The result is still gratefully good and healthy nonetheless.
The Honda Insight drives like a mature Civic and looks better than it and even the Accord. The Insight shares much with the Civic, from the chassis, roof, and glass to the suspension, so there are definitive parallels and similar behavior. The Insight is slightly longer than a Civic and the cabin is more upscale by both design and materials. The larger Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, another good but more expensive model competes against the Toyota Mirai also reviewed in this issue. Except for the very special Civic Type-R, I feel the Insight Touring is the sweetest product in the sedan model range of Honda. It looks and feels very refined and well put together. I’m on the fence about the design of the 17-inch alloys wrapped with 215/50R-17 91H Continental ProContact TX tires, but I generally like the overall design of the Insight, the LED lighting certainly helps with both the aesthetics and functionality. The push-button shifter is appropriate as well as the electronic TFT instrument cluster with a hybrid-power gauge in place of a traditional tachometer.
The Insight may not be the most fuel efficient in its class but it’s very competitive and balanced. It is however the most comfortable, classiest, natural and dynamic daily driver in its segment. I hope that it finds its way to our archipelago one day soon.
|Engine||Inline-4, i-VTEC, 1.2-kWh lithium-ion battery, AC Permanent-Magnet Synchronous 96 kW Drive Motor|
|Cylinder Head||Atkinson-cycle dohc 16V|
|Max Power (bhp @ rpm)||107 bhp @ 6000 rpm (Gasoline), 129 hp @ 4000-8000 rpm (Electric) = 151 hp|
|Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)||99 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm (Gasoline), 197 lb-ft @ 0-3000 rpm (Electric)|
|Top Speed||182 km/h (114 mph) Governed|
|0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph||7.9 sec.|
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
|Fuel Milage (km/l)||51 mpg City / 45 mpg Highway|
|Price as Tested (PHP)||US$ 28,985.00|
|What's Great||Purposeful, good interior, fuel efficiency, full-featured, desirable.|
|What's Not So||Only that it is not sold in the Philippines, engine noise above 5000 rpm is really a letdown.|
|C! Editors Rating||10/10|