Honda Insight due December
17th October, 2010
Honda has been building production hybrids for a decade.
In that time, a lot has been learnt about improving the manufacturing process to lower costs and
ultimately reduce prices. With this in mind, Honda has made hybrid technology available to more and
more people by developing an affordable hybrid vehicle.
The second-generation Honda Insight is the culmination of over 20 years of hybrid development and
more than 35 years of low emission petrol engine development.
The Insight is powered by a 1.3 litre i-VTEC engine and Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA system),
coupled to a CVT gearbox. This five-door hatch sips 4.6 litres/100 kms (combined) with ultra-low
emissions of just 109 grammes/kilometre.
The low friction, pattern coated pistons help make the engine very fuel efficient. The clever part
happens during deceleration. During this idle time, combustion in all four cylinders is stopped and each
'pot' is sealed shut. This means the engine is not working as hard to pump fuel or air, so it’s
immediately more efficient.
This technology is called Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) and shuts all four cylinders during low
speed cruising. In this mode, the Insight is powered by the electric motor only, with the pistons
In addition, virtually everything possible has been done to the engine to reduce friction, including
an offset crankshaft/connecting rod design, plateau honing of the cylinders for a smoother surface and
a second low friction piston ring.
The Insight also has a new, improved electric motor which is thinner than the motor in the current
Civic Hybrid, meaning the entire IMA system is more compact and lightweight.
Improvements have been made to the high-power, nickel-metal hydride battery (located under the boot
to help lower the centre of gravity) and the battery’s cooling system making it more efficient.
When combined, the motor and engine produce lively performance ideal for urban environments, with
good throttle response and acceleration times.
We all have different driving styles and techniques. With this in mind, Honda engineers developed
the ECON switch for the Insight. When activated by the driver, this switch tells the car’s management
system to adopt specific settings to improve fuel consumption. It does this without affecting overall
safety levels or the general usability of the car.
When the ECON switch is depressed, the Insight enters a ‘super economy’ mode, resulting in a
reduction in power, smoother transmission shift pattern, modified throttle control, increased
regenerative braking, air-conditioning.
To reward economical driving, the Insight’s has another clever system – EcoAssist. It’s a simple
system that rewards the driver if they adopt a certain driving style. Together with the ECON switch,
Eco Assist can be used to achieve high fuel economy and minimise harmful exhaust emissions.
There are two main elements: an ‘Eco drive bar’ indicator within the black and white Multi Info
Display (MID) and an ambient meter behind the digital speedometer display. Both instruments are
synchronised to give ‘real time’ information on the consumption of fuel and provide guidance on how
to drive more economically.
The ‘eco drive bar’ in the MID is a solid bar symbol that moves to either side of a central line.
The idea is to drive in a way that keeps the bar in the centre and away from the shaded/dotted
areas on either side.
When driving smoothly the bar stays near the centre of the indicator, shifting slightly right
during gradual acceleration and slightly to the left when braking gently. During these conditions,
the ambient meter behind the speed display glows green to show optimum economical driving
Under greater acceleration or when braking moderately, the bar in the MID shifts more towards
either end of the scale, showing the use of more fuel and the ambient meter glows a green/blue
With aggressive acceleration, or sudden braking, the indicator bar will head to the right or
left, deep into the shaded areas of the scale to show major fuel consumption and the ambient meter
turns blue respectively.
To help motivate Insight drivers during their journey, another display above the bar indicator
grants rewards for more efficient driving. If performing well, small trees will ‘grow’ above the
bar to show the driver’s eco-progress.
Also, by pressing the Info button on the steering wheel and scrolling through the MID displays,
drivers can not only look at their average fuel consumption of the current trip, but can also
retrieve their average fuel economy of the last three journeys.
Once a journey is over and the ignition is turned off, the black and white ‘Eco guide’ in the
MID changes to an ‘eco score’ display. Now, the tree symbols at the top report on the driver’s
performance during the last drive, while the bar and symbols at the bottom of the display show a
lifetime score. This is shown in three ‘ranks’ with the fully grown tree and flower to the right
of the bar showing the best score.
If the driver’s rank has improved since the last journey, a recognition symbol is also
displayed, with wreathes and trophy symbols reflecting good progress. Conversely, if the driving
style is worse, and the lifetime score and rank decreases, a more depressing recognition symbol
of a withering plant is displayed.
There are two Insight variants – the VTi and VTi-L. The VTi has a manufacturer’s list price*
of $29,990* making it Australia’s most affordable hybrid and with the VTi-L selling for
The Honda Insight will go on sale locally on 6th December this year.
NOTE: * Manufactuer's List Price (MLP) excludes the traditional on-road costs, such as
dealer delivery fees and the various statutory charges. Additionally, prices fees and on-road
costs are subject to change without notice.