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First look: An Insight into production

Insightful: Honda's all-new dedicated hybrid will be unveilled next month.

Honda reveals the finished new-generation Insight due in Oz later in 2009

4 Dec 2008

HONDA has finally pulled the covers off the production version of its Prius-rivalling MkII Insight hybrid.

However, the public will still have to wait well over a month to see the second-generation Honda to wear that moniker in the metal, at January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Not much has changed in the Insight’s productionisation process, save for a toned-down nose treatment featuring a less prominent bumper, the abolition of the fancy LED headlights, smaller wheels, a less ‘slammed down’ stance, and more conventionally styled door handles and exterior mirrors.

But it seems Honda is saving the production car’s interior pictures, as well as the Prius-like rear-end treatment, for later.

Sales in Australia are due to begin in the last quarter of 2009 – up to six months after Europe and the United States – with prices expected to commence below the $30,000 mark.

This will make the Insight II significantly cheaper than the outgoing Prius II, which is priced from $37,400 for the base model and $46,900 for the up-spec i-Tech variant.

However, its third-generation replacement, which is also due to debut at Detroit in January, will arrive in the first half of 2009 wearing a significantly lower pricetag than before, setting the scene what will be an interesting sales battle between its new Prius and Honda's first serious shot at a dedicated mainstream hybrid model.

With volume slated at 200,000 annually, Honda is gunning for the Insight II to unsettle the Prius as the world’s number one dedicated petrol-electric hybrid vehicle.

As the world’s only such vehicle on sale during 2007, Toyota shifted 281,265 Prius cars, with the model reaching the million total tally mark in May this year, 10 and a half years after its debut at the 1997 Tokyo motor show.

These figures dwarf the original Insight coupe’s 17,000-unit total between 1999 and 2006 (when production ceased).

Honda also confirmed that the new Insight would be followed up in the near future by the production version of the CRX-flavoured CR-Z two-seater sports car that starred at the last Tokyo motor show in October 2007.

A Jazz Hybrid is also in the wings, Honda says, although its release date is also still unknown.

As we reported in October, there is a strong possibility that the latter two might debut together at the end of 2009, ahead of the Accord Euro CDTi diesel due sometime in 2010.

Honda announced at the Paris motor show in October that it will concentrate on diesels for its larger vehicles, and keep hybrid technology for vehicles in the light and small-car segments.

As the CR-Z Concept appears to confirm, the sports-car segment is also likely to use hybrid propulsion in the near future.

Earlier this year, Honda announced that its intentions were to sell around 500,000 hybrid vehicles globally within the next three years.

Meantime, at the other end of the Honda model spectrum, a highly detailed cut-away engineering image of Honda's new-generation NSX supercar - which clearly shows a front/mid-mounted V10 lurking within - has also been doing the internet rounds, as have similarly unofficial images of the production version of the Accord Tourer concept from the 2007 Frankfurt motor show. Watch this space.

Read more:

Insight to lead Honda's Aussie hybrid assault

First look: Honda's answer to Prius is in sight

Australians to be denied Acura - and the next NSX

First look: Honda shows off NSX replacement

Honda eyes 100K, and Acura

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