With sales finally starting to hit more pleasing totals both Japanese auto giants are starting to cash in on their investment.
Honda recently launched the latest Insight which boasts some minor external tweaks such a new grille and headlights, an improved dashboard design and under body aerodynamic improvements which helped shave a further 0.3 of a litre off the official combined fuel consumption figure.
That means the 2013 Honda Insight will use just 4.3 L/100 combined.
Without being disrespectful to the rest of the Insight this low fuel consumption rating is the most important bit of the review because quite simply if it wasn’t so great on fuel you most likely wouldn’t buy it.
For the record I easily managed 5.4 L/100 in the city so that combined figure, if you did some open highway driving, would most likely be quite achievable.
Aside from the great fuel consumption the Insight is quite a sensible and otherwise unremarkable vehicle.
Under the bonnet there’s a 1.3 litre four cylinder petrol engine coupled to Honda’s hybrid system called Integrated Motor Assist, in all the system squeezes out 72kW and 167Nm.
In a nut shell that’s enough power to move the Insight around at a respectable rate even in eco mode.
In normal mode acceleration is certainly capable but not thrilling and the engine does get a touch noisy when pushed a little bit harder.
To help the Insight reach that great fuel consumption figure an engine stop/start system is used, that’s fine but be warned in warm weather the air-conditioning does seem to lose its chill when the engine switches off when you come to a stop.
Not surprisingly being a Honda the steering is just lovely, nice and direct and a good compromise between light and heavy.
I was interested to find drum brakes on the rear of the Insight, what an interesting mix this car is – cutting edge technology under the bonnet and brakes that date back to 1902!
In saying that however the brakes are up to the job and the rear drums haven’t stopped the vehicle from getting a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
The Insight doesn’t quite ride as nicely as some of the other Honda’s I have checked out in recent times, 55 series tyres on 16 inch rims probably contribute to the heavy “thuds” you hear and feel on potholes and other road deformations.
While the Insight is certainly not a racing car it felt content enough making its way around bends at reasonable speeds.
Inside the cabin of the VTi-L you will find comfy, yet slightly firm seats, the leg room front and back is ok, cabin storage also gets a pass mark, overall fit and finish is good (as you would expect from Honda), the armrests however are hard and this brings down comfort levels.
The leather wrapped steering wheel in the premium VTi-L also feels nice in your hands and the control buttons on the wheel are well placed and easy to use.
The VTi-L also gets a leather covering on the transmission selector.
I must admit I’m not crazy about the air-conditioning control panel which I think is overly complicated, the information screen is also a touch dated (especially when compared to the one in Civic hybrid), and the satellite navigation program is also fairly unattractive and dated.
But probably my biggest complaint on the interior, and I wonder if it was a simple oversight, is the lack of a clock.
The only way to tell what the time is in the Insight is to select the audio control page on the display screen, the clock doesn’t show up anywhere else, odd.
On a more positive note visibility is great thanks to the wing mirrors being positioned back from the A pillars, looking out the back is easy thanks to the Insights twin rear windows and it also boasts a really clear rear reversing camera.
On the outside the Insight has always been a pretty good car to look at, the refreshed grille and bumpers on the latest model have helped keep it fresh; I was also pleased to see that Honda has dropped the big green hybrid stickers from the rear doors.
Summing it up the Insight is a thoroughly adequate car that delivers excellent fuel economy.
But be warned this fuel economy certainly comes at a cost - the Insight range starts at $29,990 for the VTi and $33,490 for the VTi-L.
NUTS and BOLTS - 2013 Honda Insight
- Engine: 1.3 litre petrol/hybrid developing 72kW and 167Nm
- Transmission: CVT auto
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: 3yrs/100,000kms
- Origin: Japan
- Price: From $29,990