What is it?
This is the new Honda Insight. The Insight is Honda’s second stab at a bespoke hybrid model, rather than a hybrid powertrain dropped into an existing model like the Civic.
Unlike the first-generation Honda Insight, the funky and frugal but largely useless coupe that appeared back in 1999, the new Insight is supposed to appeal to economy-conscious mainstream buyers and not just ardent tree-huggers.
This time, the Honda Insight unabashedly takes on the Toyota Prius, copying its five-door hatchback packaging, snub nose, sharply raked windscreen, curved roof line and truncated rear end.
Just like the original Honda Insight and every Honda hybrid since, the new Insight is powered by Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. This consists of a small petrol engine, an electric motor, a compact battery pack and a regenerative braking system.
That’s not to say that the IMA was lifted directly from the Civic and plopped under the Insight’s low-rise bonnet. Although it’s fundamentally the same system, the Insight’s IMA weighs only 38kg, some 28 per cent less than the Civic’s version.
Honda claims that the Insight IMA is 30 per cent more efficient, which allows for fewer batteries (84 D-cells rather than 132, to be exact), and that it has 30 per cent greater durability. A CVT is the only gearbox on offer, incidentally, although the top-spec EX trim does get shift paddles.