Upgrades make the Insight easier to recommend than before; good value, too

What is it?

The Honda Insight promised a lot and almost delivered when it first arrived in the UK 18 months ago. Its cheaper, less sophisticated parallel hybrid system (its electric motor assists the petrol engine rather than acting independently and being able to power the car outright) allowed it to be priced much lower than the best-selling Toyota Prius series hybrid.

However, its (nicely designed) interior was poorly finished and the car fidgeted and crashed over UK road surfaces that weren’t marble smooth – so most of them, then.

So what we have here is the 2011 Insight, complete with suspension tweaks, including adjustments to the recoil rate of the springs and a revised rear suspension brace.

See pics of the Honda Insight in action

What's it like?

The result is a car that has a much more compliant ride, is more comfortable to drive at all speeds and doesn’t feel quite so frail and brittle. Okay, the ride is still not perfect.

There is still a tendency for the Insight to send a jolt through the cabin over particularly abrasive surfaces. But for the most part it fidgets less and controls body movements without discomforting occupants in the process. The handling, never one of the Insight’s flaws, is also improved. It turns in keenly and feels agile, traits shared with the Insight-based CR-Z.

Inside, perceived quality has been improved, thanks to some revised trim and materials, although the uncomfortable seats remain.

Should I buy one?

These small upgrades do enough to earn the Insight an extra half a star over its original three-star road test. And crucially for those who would have been put off by the Insight’s mixed reviews before, its trump card – the low price – remains.

Honda Insight

Price: £16,325; Top speed: 113mph; 0-62mph: 12.5sec; Economy: 61.4mpg (combined); CO2: 105g/km; Kerb weight: 1240kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1339cc, petrol, plus electric motor; Power: 101bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 147lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox: CVT

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, autocar.co.uk website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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polskifiat 19 November 2010

Re: Honda Insight 1.3

So when are they going to fix the ugly styling, the anemic powerplant, and the poor fuel economy (compared to Prius)?

Dark Isle 19 November 2010

Re: Honda Insight 1.3

Have they still not improved the emissions? You're quoting 105 g/km of CO2 in the article which not only trails the Toyota Prius and Toyota Auris hybrids but also diesel rivals from Audi, Ford, SEAT, Volkswagen and Volvo.

jelly7961 19 November 2010

Re: Honda Insight 1.3

Well at least Honda clearly listened to bad press or complaints so well done.