Honda Insight Hybrid Test Drive Review

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I’m back at my favourite past time while waiting for my car to get serviced. Test driving and reviewing cars. This time I tested the Honda Insight Hybrid.

The Honda Insight Hybrid is the country’s cheapest Hybrid on the road, going for OTR RM 99,800.00. All other hybrids at the moment are above the 100k price.

This is a test drive review, by a family man, who does cruising more than sprinting, don’t ask me about 0-100 figures, and such. Technical details abound elsewhere on the internet. Let’s get to the review.

Cabin noise
Quiet when cruising, but engine gets when audible during more spirited driving.

Cabin space
Not much bigger (by visual perception, at least) than the City. In fact the width of the rear seats don’t extend the whole width of the car, because there are some vents there.

Luggage space

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High floor, low bootline.

Deep, but not deep enough (see my iPad in the picture as reference), and shallow, because low boot line and raised boot floor (the IMA battery is underneath). Should be enough to put onelarge luggage bags and other stuff, but if you use up all the height, the driver’s rear visibility may be impaired. Not the biggest boot, but not a deal breaker for me.

Cabin materials and finishing

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Nice interior, I like it.

Nice. No complaints. Everything feels good. Doesn’t look premium, but not cheap either. I think the material choice is better than the Freed.

Driving
The car was very drivable, power steering keeping the car light to handle at lower and predictable at higher speeds. car seemed quite stable too.
Pickup was surprisingly good, even though it’s just a 1.3l engine. The IMA motor does well at assisting the petrol engine. In ECO mode, the engine actually stops when you’re at a standstill, but is very quick to restart when you lift your foot off the brakes. Even in a traffic jam, the with the auto stop functionality frequently working, did not slow me from keeping up with the rest of the traffic.

Looking into the rear view mirror would take some getting used to, as the high edge of the boot hatch (it not really a ‘lid’) is visible right through the center of the rear view. It didn’t impede the view too much, though.

Fuel economy
We’ll have to wait longer for existing users to share the ‘actual’ fuel savings based on Malaysian driving (please, don’t believe the manufacturers mileage claims).
The car I test drove had a little over half a tank, and the dash computer said I had a range of 300km (only). On my City, I usually get another 200 after the half tank mark, meaning, theoretically, the Hybrid would only save me 100km on a full tank? Not convincing, I travel that much in a day.

Its best we wait for feedback from actual users.

Should you buy it?

Well, there’s not definite answer, but these are the type of people *I* would see as potential buyers

  • Salespeople who travel the city a lot
  • People upgrading from a smaller class of cars. If you already have a City, for instance, buying this would not make much sense as, after spending 85k on your present car, you’d be spending 100k on a car with same size. The fuel savings will not offset the higher price of the Insight on the short term.
  • People who just want to jump on the Hybrid bandwagon. (unless of course, your car is giving problems and you’re looking for a replacement).
  • People who want to buy a car to move the kids for tuition, school, etc and want to save on fuel costs, (but feel they must do it in a Honda ;))

Assuming the Government does not keep the tax exemption on Hybrid cars, now is the best time to buy it as the price will increase Jan 2012.

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