The Honda Insight is an electric hybrid car manufactured from 1999. It was initially a two-door, two-passenger liftback during its first generation. It became a four-door five-passenger liftback in the second generation and is now built as a four-door sedan.
Though production continues to this day, it was sold in Australia only up until 2014. It is famous for being Honda's most fuel-efficient car available in North America with an Integrated Motor Assist but without plug-in capability. It is also the cheapest hybrid in the US, another plus for Honda.
First Generation (ZE1; 1999-2006)
The first generation concept had its debut at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show. It would later be introduced in 1999 in Japan as the first production car to feature Honda's Integrated Motor Assist, which is run by an Intelligent Power Unit (IPU). It would take another two years for it to be made available in Australia.
It was fuel efficient due to its optimized aerodynamics and lightweight aluminium structure. This two-seater single-trim car came fitted with a 5-speed manual transmission connected to a 995cc 1.0L ECA three-cylinder engine that produced 56 kW in power and a torque of 113 N.m. It also has an electrical motor that adds 10 kW and 49 N.m boosting performance to the level of a 1.5L engine. The electrical motor also recharges the car's battery during deceleration. There is a control module that regulates the power coming from the internal combustion engine and the electric motor. From 2001, a CVT variant of the Insight was made available. There is also a feature that automatically turns off the engine and restarts it upon movement.
Honda built the Insight with lightweight aluminium and plastic to reduce the car's weight. Most of the parts, including the engine mounts, front brake clippers, rear brake drums, and suspension, are made of aluminium, all of which could have been the reason for it winning five races and the 2006 Class A championship in the Formula 1000 Rally in the UK. It also won several awards including the 2000 International Engine of the Year.
Second Generation (ZE2/ZE3; 2010-2014)
The second-generation Insight debuted in 2009 as a 5-passenger, 5-door liftback. Honda looked to make hybrid cars more affordable to a wide range of buyers. When it comes to design, the second-generation Insight is wide-shaped and aerodynamic, which reduces drag, thus making it fuel-efficient.
The new Insight includes the Integrated Motor Assist (which is powered by an 84 module Sanyo Electric hydride battery) hybrid system that mates an internal combustion engine with the electrical motor mounted on the engine's crankshaft. It utilizes a 1,339cc 1.3 L SOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine that's rated for 73 kW at 5,800 rpm and 167 N.m of torque at 1000-1,700 rpm. The electric motor acts as a generator during braking, and it recharges the IMA battery. In this generation, it charges the battery even when the car is steady cruising, coasting, or gently decelerating. The Insight's engine sends power to the wheels through a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) which keeps it operating within its most efficient range.
When it comes to the mechanics, the Insight chassis is derived from components used in the Honda Jazz. The front and rear suspension components from the Jazz, including the MacPherson struts at the front and H-shaped torsion at the rear, are used. There are also front and rear stabilizers. The most significant difference being the position of the fuel tank. The Insight's fuel tank is located under the rear seats with the hybrid battery occupying the cargo floor below the spare tyre.
Standard equipment includes an electronic brake distribution system, a four-channel ABS, and a creep aid system for handling steep terrains. It utilizes drum brakes in the rear and a single-piston sliding caliper with a one-piece ventilated rotor used in the front. The second-generation Insight won the 2010 Top Commuter Vehicle award from the American Automobile Association.
The production of the Insight continues to date. However, newer generations have not yet been made available in Australia. Once they are, Carpart.com.au will be the first to let you know. We help car owners find the best deals in secondhand cars and spare parts in Australia. Don't let your old model lay idle – sell it or buy spare parts to repair it! Visit our website for the latest car parts listed today!
- Eric Anyega