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Honda shows Insight at Detroit. Image by Honda.

Honda shows Insight at Detroit
Honda's latest "low-cost" hybrid car has been launched in North America.
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Newer articles featuring 2009 Honda Insight

2009-09-24: Week at the wheel: Honda Insight
2009-02-09: Mugen gives the Honda Insight a makeover
2009-01-22: Minimal Insight

Honda has unveiled the new Insight hybrid at the North America International Auto Show. It features a revised, cost effective petrol-electric powertrain as well as a new five-door body. When it goes on sale in the spring it should be the cheapest hybrid car available.

The Insight's five-door body is smaller than the Civic Hybrid's and echoes some of the styling cues of the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell car. It is claimed to be aerodynamically efficient whilst providing room for five people. The body has been designed for a low centre of gravity, which should aid good handling.

Power comes from a 1.3-litre, single camshaft, four-cylinder engine with i-VTEC variable valve timing and lift. The petrol engine is assisted by a 14bhp electric motor and drives through a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT). At low speed the Insight can run on the electric motor alone. Other fuel saving measures include regenerative braking, cylinder deactivation during deceleration and engine shutoff when the car is stationary. The hybrid drive train allows the Insight to return 64.2mpg on the combined cycle while carbon dioxide emissions are 101g/km.

To encourage economical driving the Insight is fitted with the Ecological Drive Assist System - Eco Assist for short. This provides instantaneous information on how economically the car is being driven by changing the background colour of the speedometer. A 'fuel economy scoring' function gives the driver feedback about current and long-term fuel efficiency and driving style. Finally, there is a selectable ECON mode that ensures the powertrain operates in the most fuel-efficient manner.

Standard equipment levels include 60/40 split folding rear seats (made possible by mounting the batteries under the boot floor), automatic climate control and an audio system with input jack for MP3 players. A higher specification model will also be offered with satellite navigation incorporating voice recognition, cruise control and a six-speaker audio system with USB interface.

Safety equipment includes a variety of airbags including dual stage, dual threshold front airbags. The front of the Insight has been designed to reduce the severity of pedestrian injuries while the body has been designed not only to protect those inside but to mitigate damage to other vehicles.

Honda will increase its range of hybrid vehicles to include a petrol-electric version of the Jazz and a production version of the CR-Z coupé. The Insight will make its first appearance in Europe at the Brussels Motor Show with cars reaching dealers in the spring.

John Lambert - 11 Jan 2009

Earlier articles featuring 2009 Honda Insight

2008-12-03: Honda releases first image of showroom Insight

2009 Honda Insight. Image by Dave Jenkins.2009 Honda Insight. Image by Dave Jenkins.2009 Honda Insight. Image by Dave Jenkins.2009 Honda Insight. Image by Dave Jenkins.2009 Honda Insight. Image by Dave Jenkins.

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