Honda Insight Hybrid Review: -It\'s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy

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Honda Insight Hybrid Review: -It's terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy

The wonderfully ascerbic Jeremy Clarkson lets loose on the new Honda Insight 1.3 IMA SE Hybrid.

Much has been written about the Insight, Honda's new low-priced hybrid. Weíve been told how much carbon dioxide it produces, how its dashboard encourages frugal driving by glowing green when you're easy on the throttle and how it is the dawn of all things. The beginning of days.

So far, though, you have not been told what itís like as a car; as a tool for moving you, your friends and your things from place to place.

So here goes. Itís terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. Itís the first car Iíve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didnít have to drive it any more.

The biggest problem, and itís taken me a while to work this out, because all the other problems are so vast and so cancerous, is the gearbox. For reasons known only to itself, Honda has fitted the Insight with something called constantly variable transmission (CVT).

It doesnít work. Put your foot down in a normal car and the revs climb in tandem with the speed. In a CVT car, the revs spool up quickly and then the speed rises to match them. It feels like the clutch is slipping. It feels horrid.

And the sound is worse. The Hondaís petrol engine is a much-shaved, built-for-economy, low-friction 1.3 that, at full chat, makes a noise worse than someone elseís crying baby on an airliner. Itís worse than the sound of your parachute failing to open. Really, to get an idea of how awful it is, youíd have to sit a dog on a ham slicer.

So youíre sitting there with the engine screaming its head off, and your ears bleeding, and youíre doing only 23mph because thatís about the top speed, and youíre thinking things canít get any worse, and then they do because you run over a small piece of grit.

Because the Honda has two motors, one that runs on petrol and one that runs on batteries, it is more expensive to make than a car that has one. But since the whole point of this car is that it could be sold for less than Toyotaís Smugmobile, the engineers have plainly peeled the suspension components to the bone. The result is a ride that beggars belief.

Thereís more. Normally, Hondas feel as though they have been screwed together by eye surgeons. This one, however, feels as if itís been made from steel so thin, you could read through it. And the seats, finished in pleblon, are designed specifically, it seems, to ruin your skeleton. This is hairy-shirted eco-ism at its very worst.

However, as a result of all this, prices start at £15,490 ó thatís £3,000 or so less than the cost of the Prius. But at least with the Toyota there is no indication that youíre driving a car with two motors. In the Insight you are constantly reminded, not only by the idiotic dashboard, which shows leaves growing on a tree when you ease off the throttle (pass the sick bucket), but by the noise and the ride and the seats. And also by the hybrid system Honda has fitted.

In a Prius the electric motor can, though almost never does, power the car on its own. In the Honda the electric motor is designed to ďassistĒ the petrol engine, providing more get-up-and-go when the need arises. The net result is this: in a Prius the transformation from electricity to petrol is subtle. In the Honda there are all sorts of jerks and clunks.

And for what? For sure, you could get 60 or more mpg if you were careful. And thatís not bad for a spacious five-door hatchback. But for the same money you could have a Golf diesel, which will be even more economical. And hasnít been built out of rice paper to keep costs down.

Much more on the link
 http://www.timesonline.co.u...
By netchicken: posted on 18-5-2009

Sounds like its more an around town shopping cart rather than a long distance or highway cruiser.

So on a long trip, did it run off the petrol engine, or does the petrol just charge the electric?
By netchicken: posted on 19-5-2009








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