Honda Insight (2009–2014)

Model History

September 2008

Honda revealed a production ready concept of its affordable family hybrid car, then displayed it at the Paris Motor Show. The production version went on sale in Spring 2009, and was priced from £15,490, making petrol-electric technology accessible to more people. The car was name Insight, reviving the name of the 1999 hybrid coupe – the first production hybrid car to be sold in Europe.

  • Length: 4,396mm (14’ 5”)
  • Width: 1,695mm (5’ 7”) + mirrors
  • Width + mirrors: 2,029mm (6’ 8”)
  • Height: 1,425mm (4’ 8”)

By offering a more affordable hybrid that’s accessible to more people, Honda hoped to attract a new section of the market to petrol-electric technology – those car buyers who have never considered a hybrid car before.

The car is a 5-door family hatchback, capable of carrying five people. The control unit and battery for the IMA system are mounted beneath the boot space to give the Insight both a low centre of gravity and the practicality of a conventionally-powered hatchback.

The Insight has a unique function to assist more fuel efficient driving – helping drivers to maximise their real world fuel consumption. Honda aimed to sell 200,000 Insights a year, globally.

ECON button controls engine, CVT and other powertrain components, adjusts aircon, extends idle stop time and increases regenerative recharging.

Guidance function is an 'Ambient Meter' halo behind the digital speedo that glows green when driving economically, changing to blue when driving less economically. Also an acceleration and braking meter that shows when accelerating or braking less economically, and a scoring function that shows how ecewonomically you ahvfe been driving.

The five-door hatchback design takes styling cues as well as the aerodynamically efficient profile from the FCX Clarity, Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell car. To compliment the sleek profile the Insight has been designed with a low center of gravity and a spacious five-passenger cabin, giving customers a balance of fine handling and a highly flexible interior.

All Insights are powered by an advanced 1.3-litre SOHC aluminium-alloy i-VTEC engine mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) gearbox. The conventional engine is assisted by a new generation of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system for excellent fuel economy and low emissions.

The Insight’s IMA system incorporates a 14 PS electric motor, advanced battery pack, and compact Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) – recapturing kinetic energy from vehicle braking and deceleration and supplying additional power for acceleration when needed. Packaging of the ultra-compact IMA battery and IPU in the vehicle’s rear floor allows the enhanced utility of a 60/40 split and fold-down rear seat back.

The IMA system has the capability to operate exclusively on electric power in certain low- to-mid-speed driving conditions. It also provides for cylinder deactivation within the petrol engine during deceleration and shutoff when the vehicle is stopped.

Key safety features are Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE), which provides improved protection for vehicle occupants and helps mitigate damage to other vehicles; dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, front-side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) and a side curtain airbag system; and a pedestrian-injury mitigation front body design

  • Insight SE CVT - £15,490
  • Insight ES CVT - £16,790
  • Insight ES-T CVT - £18,390

July 2010

Honda Insight specification and settings improved in response to early customer feedback. The suspension of the low-emission, 5-door hatch has been adjusted to improve ride comfort and NVH levels, while interior trim levels have been enhanced.

December 2010

Improved Honda Insight hybrid, featuring adjusted suspension to improve ride comfort and NVH levels and enhanced trim levels went on sale British roads.

Prices started at £16,325 for the SE model, but with Honda’s current 'Affordable Driving' consumer offer, the hybrid is available at £14,995 OTR until the end of December, making it even more attainable – and the least expensive hybrid on the market by a mile, and actually £1,000 less than the Honda Jazz hybrid.

A new, top-of-the-range, EX model, featuring black leather upholstery and DVD Sat Nav and hands-free telephone, is another addition to the 5-door hybrid line-up at £20,215 OTR.

A number of chassis changes have been implemented, including: adjusting the recoil rate of the springs, changing the rear camber angles, altering the V-shape rear suspension brace and adjusting mounts. The amendments promise to deliver improved ride, handling and stability.

As well as these upgrades to suspension, Honda has added rear parking sensors to ES-model Insights and above, and updated the trim to smarten the interior. Dashboard and seat colours have also been changed to give a more uniform finish, and some plastics were improved. Chrome rings now surround air vents, and the doors have been given a silver garnish feature.

The changes made to the Insight were in direct response to the comments received from early customers and the media. The initial focus was on suspension, to which improvements have been made to address negative feedback on ride and comfort levels. There are also two new paint options for Insight customers, with the introduction of Dynamic Blue Pearl and Carnelian Red Pearl.

September 2011

Honda unveiled a cleaner, higher quality Insight hybrid at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011.

The revised 5-door hatchback has lower CO2emissions of 96g/km, achieved through enhanced aerodynamics and powertrain efficiency. Reduced engine friction, changes to the CVT transmission and improved air conditioning all contribute to lower fuel consumption.

These changes mean that the 2012 Insight once again qualifies for exemption from the London Congestion Charge, and falls into the lowest VED band, meaning owners will pay no annual road tax. The new figures also ensure that Insight remains in one of the lowest groups for Benefit in Kind taxation.

For 2012, the Insight also receives a refresh of the exterior design, including a new front grille. At the back, visibility is increased through the introduction of a slimmer spolier and a modified tailgate garnish, and a reduction in the size of the wiper motor.

Adjustments have also been made to the engine and suspension for an overall improvement to ride comfort and stability, and interior quality has been enhanced.

What does a Honda Insight (2009 – 2014) cost?