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Detroit show: Honda uncovers American Insight

Fresh face: The new-generation Insight gets a totally new look inside and out.

Honda’s new-gen Insight not coming to Australia with Nth America the focus

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Honda logo12 Jan 2018

HONDA has revealed the third-generation Insight hybrid ahead of its Detroit show debut, but green car fans shouldn’t hold their breath, as the sleek new model is not on the cards for Australia.

Previewed in December, the Insight will be shown at Detroit in prototype guise, but it is believed to be very close to the production version that will hit the North American market later this year.

Australia is set to miss out as the new Insight has been developed in left-hand drive only for America.

Honda Australia previously sold the first- and second-generation Insights Down Under, but the latter was dropped from the line-up in 2014 due to slow sales.

The new Insight will be positioned above the Civic and below the mid-size Accord in the US line-up and it shifts from a liftback to sedan body style with room for up to five occupants.

As previewed in the images released in December, the Insight has a sleek new shape with a lower and wider stance than before. The ‘flying wing’ grille is front and centre, surrounded by LED headlights, and the new model also has LED tail-lights, character lines and a coupe-like roofline.

Honda says the Insight’s long wheelbase means it will offer “class-leading” passenger space, but it has not revealed dimensions. The hybrid batteries are housed under the rear seats, ensuring the Insight has a full-size cargo area and 60/40 split-fold rear seats.

Powering the Insight will be the third-generation version of Honda’s two-motor hybrid system that combines a 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with a propulsion motor and a lithium-ion battery pack.

The Japanese car-maker says the Insight can operate on electric power alone which draws energy from the engine that acts as a generator, or the battery pack.

Honda has not revealed power and torque details as yet, but it anticipates that the Insight will consume about 4.7 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle.

The Insight will feature Honda’s 8.0-inch Display Audio capacitive touchscreen with customisable app tiles and home screen shortcuts, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 7.0-inch LCD digital driver’s meter.

Some variants will feature Honda’s LaneWatch camera system, as well as the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive tech that includes Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Traffic Sign Recognition.

American Honda Motor Company senior vice-president of Automobile Sales and general manager of the Honda Division Henio Arcangeli, Jr. talked up the Insight ahead of its reveal and said it would offer excellent fuel economy.

“The new 2019 Honda Insight signals we are entering a new era of electrification with a new generation of Honda products that offer customers the benefits of advanced powertrain technology without the traditional trade-offs in design, premium features or packaging,” he said.

“The Honda Insight is anticipated to receive fuel economy ratings competitive with the best hybrids in the segment, with styling that will have universal appeal inside and out and best-in-class passenger volume.”

The original Insight beat its arch rival, the Toyota Prius, to market in Australia by just seven months, but it never captured the attention of local buyers in the way the Toyota did.

Honda launched the second-gen version in late 2010 but it was pulled from the market in early 2014 after poor sales.

The car-maker also pulled a number of other hybrid models from the Australian market after this move, including the CR-Z, Civic and Jazz Hybrid and more recently, the Accord Sports Hybrid.

While Honda Australia is yet to announce its hybrid strategy, there is a chance it could return to the segment with the next-gen Accord a chance to be offered here in hybrid guise.

The Insight will be built at Honda’s Greensburg, Indiana plant and joins the Clarity – which is offered in hydrogen fuel-cell, plug-in hybrid and full EV guise – and the Accord hybrid in Honda’s US line-up.

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