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Detroit show: Honda gives hybrid Insight

Fuel sipper: Holden unveiled its second-generation Insight hybrid at Detroit.

Honda's reborn Insight appears to fall short of Prius fuel economy levels

13 Jan 2009

HONDA has provided the first environmental performance indications of its all-new Insight II with the unveiling of the long-awaited hybrid car at the Detroit motor show this week, including claims that the vehicle will achieve city/highway fuel consumption of 5.9L/100km (40mpg) and 5.5L/100km (43mpg) respectively under the US EPA ratings system.

This is not as impressive as the 45/48mpg (5.2/4.9L/100km) city/highway rating the Toyota Prius has achieved under the same system, and indicates the Insight will not match its nearest competitor when tested under the combined-cycle Australian fuel economy standard, which places the Prius at 4.4L/100km. Crucial CO2 emissions data is still to be released.

Due for release in Australia during the final quarter of 2009, the five-seater Insight II will use an all-aluminium 1.3-litre SOHC i-VTEC engine combined with a continuously variable transmission and a new-generation IMA hybrid system.

15 center imageThe latter incorporates a 10kW electric motor and a compact ‘Intelligent Power Unit’ (IPU) that harnesses energy via regenerative braking. The system can run on electric-only power in certain low-speed driving conditions, while the engine includes cylinder deactivation during deceleration and a stop-start feature at idle.

Honda claims the 40-litre fuel tank can deliver a driving range of around 650km.

Attention to detail in the packaging department has seen the compact battery and IPU located underneath the floor at the rear of the vehicle, allowing for a 60/40 split-fold rear seat.

Two model variants will be available in the US, with the base model featuring a high level of standard safety equipment including six airbags (dual-stage front airbags, front-side airbags and side curtain airbags), anti-whiplash front head restraints and ABS brakes with EBD.

Other standard features include automatic climate-control air-conditioning, two-tier digital instrument panels, power windows/mirrors, a fully adjustable steering wheel and an MP3-compatible CD stereo.

Eco-oriented elements available for the driver include an engine/transmission economy mode, a speedo display that alters its colour according to the current efficiency, and a fuel economy ‘scoring’ function that includes a plant-leaf graphic that provides feedback on current and longer-term fuel consumption.

A higher-series EX model will add alloy wheels, cruise control, a six-speaker stereo (with USB audio interface), steering-mounted paddle shifters and electronic stability control.

“Honda hybrids have always offered great value, high fuel efficiency and a healthy dose of fun near the middle price range in the Honda line-up,” said American Honda executive vice-president John Mendel.

“With the introduction of the all-new Insight, we’re opening up Honda’s fun-to-drive, versatile and fuel-efficient hybrid technology to an entirely new group of buyers that previously may not have considered a hybrid because of either image or cost.”

Read more:

First look: An Insight into production

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