Honda Insight Hatchback (2009 - 2011) review
Read the Honda Insight hybrid hatchback (2009 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.7 The Honda Insight offers eco-friendly motoring in a clean, modern package, all backed by the Japanese manufacturer’s brilliant record for reliability.
- Driver-orientated interior
- Five-star Euro NCAP safety rating
- Proven reliability
- Underpowered petrol engine
- Poor interior plastics
- Firm suspension set-up
At a glance
Honda Insight is smaller than its main rival the
Toyota Prius, but shares a very similar silhouette in its pursuit of excellent aerodynamics. The slightly odd-shaped boot helps air pass over the car as cleanly as possible, creating less drag. Neat touches like the blue-tinted headlamps and smart front grille give the Insight a clean and modern finish.
The dashboard is driver-orientated, with most controls placed on the steering wheel, or close to it. Some of the plastics look cheaper than we’d expect in a
Honda. The main gauges look like they have been beamed in from the future, but they are logical and you quickly appreciate their colour scheme and clarity. The best feature is the glowing speedometer which turns green when you drive economically and then morphs into dark blue if you put your foot down. It’s the most effective and attractive economy driving aid we’ve seen yet.
Hybrid’s often have reduced interior space as a result of their battery packs, but not so the Insight. Front and rear legroom are both ample, but taller rear passengers may find the roof quite low. Boot space is a competitive 408 litres and the rear seats can fold down for extra space.
Ride and handling
The Honda Insight suits a relaxed driving style; it’s steering is very light around town and has little feel even as speed increases. The suspension is firmer than you might expect, which can lead to some jarring through potholes and over speed humps.
The Insight is fitted with a 1.3-litre petrol producing 88bhp and an electric motor which boosts total output. During deceleration and braking the electric motor acts as a generator and recharges the battery pack. Power is sent to a CVT automatic gearbox. Ask for some performance and the engine revs flare and the volume of the engine rises accordingly. Press the ‘Econ’ button and the car limits the response of the engine to make driving even more economical – and slower. If the engine had more power it would be possible to drive it using fewer revs, and more economically.
The Insight’s fuel economy is less than groundbreaking. Honda claims 64.2mpg, but we struggled to get more than low fifties. Don’t get us wrong, these are good figures, but a diesel
Ford Fiesta can do better. A low entry-level price and low emissions of 101 – 105gkm result in a low tax band and company car tax of just seven per cent, making it an attractive fleet proposition; especially in London where it’s also congestion charge exempt. It also produces less harmful NOx gases than a diesel car.
It’s a Honda, so you will be buying one of the most reliable products available and should experience excellent customer care. The hybrid system is already well-proven thanks to its development in the Civic Hybrid IMA.
The Insight performed well in recent Euro NCAP crash test results, scoring the full five-stars. It was awarded 90 per cent for adult occupant protection, 74 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for pedestrian protection and 86 per cent in the safety assist category.
The basic SE spec will be enough for most thanks to alloy wheels, electric windows and mirrors, trip computer, stability control, remote central locking and a CD player. The ES is temping thanks to bigger wheels, heated front seats, cruise control, privacy glass, fog lights, leather steering wheel and gear lever, auto wipers and headlights and an MP3 player connection. ES-T is the only trim to get Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and sat-nav.
The Honda Insight is a well-priced and good-looking family car, which is practical and should prove eminently reliable. It also has admirably low emission and should prove cheap to run for its size. Our only concern is its lack of power, which results in driving it too hard for great economy figures.