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Green car expert Richard Lawton drives the Honda Insight
It isnt unreasonable to write that the Honda Insight is often overlooked by motorists looking for an economical car but is it a fair reflection on Hondas Prius rival?
Launched three years ago, the second generation Insight was seen, at the time, as an opportunity lost for the Japanese carmaker. Its eco-credentials came up short against the competition, merely good rathee than great. Early models did not sit in the lowest VED tax band. Complaints were also levelled at the functional yet bland interior and a lack of driver engagement behind the wheel.
Happily in the intervening years Honda has listened and responded with a raft of improvements, not least to the cars aesthetics. The cabin has also been given a significant quality upgrade and Honda engineers have been busily improving the handling for the demanding European driver.
However, the most important development cannot be seen. All new Honda Insights emit less than 100g/km of CO2 into the atmosphere. Finally, the Insight can join the sub-100 club.
This sub-100g/km CO2 threshold is significant for several reasons, firstly it means that it sits in band A for Vehicle Excise Duty which means you pay nothing in road tax and secondly it is exempt from the London Congestion Charge (once registered). Low CO2 emissions also directly correlates with excellent fuel economy, as high as 68.9mpg on the combined cycle and for people interested in running it as a company car, it sits in one of the lowest Benefit-In-Kind tax brackets, thanks to it having a petrol/electric and not diesel heart.
Unlike some hybrids on the road, Hondas IMIMA (the hybrid bit) is used, in the main, to reduce the petrol engines workload and although in certain situations the car can run purely on electric power alone, youre more likely to see the electric motor being utilised when accelerating or maintaining a steady speed on the motorway.
The Insight also features a couple of novel driver aids to help conserve precious fuel, helpfully the dashboard is backlit with its colour providing a visual indication on driving style; accelerate or brake aggressively and watch the speedo change from green to blue! The car also scores the driver at the end of every journey, which is added to a lifetime score, an odd concept but one which is designed to reward driving conservatively.
It might not have the glamour of other models on the road but finally the Honda Insight can come in from the sidelines and bask in a little bit of eco-loving.
CO2 Emissions: 96g/km 99g/km
Fuel Economy: 68.9mpg 65.7mpg (combined cycle)
BIK Rate: 10% (2012-2013)
Honda has sold more than 22,000 hybrids in the UK since the original Insight was launched in 2000. The current hybrid line up now consists of the CR-Z, Jazz Hybrid and Insight.
TheGreenCarWebsite.co.uk is the definitive guide to fuel efficient cars and economical motoring, providing a wealth of information on everything from electric cars, hybrid cars, efficient petrol and diesel cars to biofuels and hydrogen fuel cell technology.