Honda Insight road test - Civinfo

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post #1 of 108 (permalink) Old 30th July 2009, 22:59 Thread Starter
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Honda Insight road test

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I recently spent a few days in the new Insight. I drove about 420 miles in it, and covered all sorts of driving conditions. I have been wondering how to write this road test, because this car is like nothing else I have previously driven. It's unfair to dive into the conclusion (however tempting), because I don't want you to miss the positive elements.

So I have elected to divide up the car into good bits and bad bits. And the really bad bit. Then put together a conclusion and discussion of this interesting technology.

Firstly, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly:

Good

Looks

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The Insight, in the flesh, is a pretty good looking car from the outside. Keep a few feet away and you'll get an old-Honda feeling from the rear and a modern-Honda feeling from the front. Despite obvious comparisons to the Pious, the Insight is less dumpy, lower and sleeker.

IMA

The IMA is satisfying. I wasn't sure how I would get on with this, but ultimately it seems to be a set of regenerative brakes. When you lift off the throttle, the IMA motor/generator gently charges the battery. This adds an artificial engine braking effect (a bit more than you get in a diesel) but is just about right for normal traffic speed changes. And then when you brake, the generator uses all it's might to charge the battery. So you are coiling up a spring - saving your energy rather than wasting it. Accelerate again, and the battery power you have stored boosts the engine (a little) with the electric motor. The effect is small, you never get electric-only driving (well, below 50 mph you can press the throttle about half a millimetre and you can maintain a speed using electric-only, but the engine still runs so the only way to tell is by gazing at the gauges).

Click the image to open in full size.

When the electric motor helps you out, you normally can't feel it. But when you accelerate from stationary to about 20, the car does pick up well and this is down to the instant torque of the electric motor.

Lights

The car has projector headlights (albeit regular halogen) that work well. Maybe these will filter down on to regular Hondas.

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Other

The luggage space in the boot is sort of moderately OK, but clearly not as good as a regular hatch.

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The steering wheel felt good in the hand.

Bad

I'm not sure how to structure this, so I'll work from the front to the back.

Engine

The engine. Where do I start? The engine is a wretched little 4 cylinder 1.3 that has been tuned to make an unpleasant grating/screaming noise. On top of this it sounds like it has a hole in the exhaust, and no air filter. It makes very little power, but it makes a whole load of noise. More than you can ever imagine. Much more even than the really loud road noise (road noise that makes a Civic feel like an S Class). Taking a peek under the bonnet, the offensive little thing is surrounded in no sound insulation, and if you look carefully at the bulkhead, you'll see no sound insulation there either.

Click the image to open in full size.

The air intake in modern cars is silenced and ducted (normally into the front wing). The Insight has no such arrangement; just a single bit of rubber with an opening - inside the bonnet. It's like someone was going to finish the job, but got distracted. Revving the engine with the bonnet open showed that there is a lot of mechanical noise from the top of the engine and a bit of noise from this intake.

Click the image to open in full size.

Transmission

Honda have decided to use the CVT (continuously variable transmission) on the Insight. As an engineer, this is always the dream solution. You demand an acceleration, and a computer sets a constant revs and throttle setting, and the car simply accelerates. So you can have maximum power all the time, or ride the torque curve as you accelerate - and there are no irritating gear changes to interrupt the flow.

Sadly, this does not suit the dismal engine in this car. The engine is quiet enough (but totally gutless) at very low revs, but as soon as you ask for some normal acceleration then the CVT drives the revs right up and you have this seriously loud, awful wail fill the car. Think of this: get a 1978 Ford Fiesta 1.0. Make a small hole in the exhaust. Open the bonnet and all the windows. Start the engine, and while in neutral, floor the throttle. Stay like that until you can take no more. Welcome to the Insight!

Here's a video of the car accelerating on the motorway. There's already plenty of road noise at this speed, so the effect in the video seems less than in real life:


There are more problems with the drivetrain too. Because the revs languish at about 2,000 when you are holding speed, it takes a while for them to rise when you want to accelerate. It's like turbo lag on a massive scale, and makes overtaking a daunting prospect (and I'm thinking 30 mph tractor here). So Honda have fitted some flappy paddles.

You pull the "-" paddle and the revs jump up ready for the overtake. A little "gear" indicator displays a number, but of course this is all fake. So you jump the revs up, have a look, and.. Oh. The revs have dropped again after just a couple of seconds. It's back in Auto. So you have to sit there, constantly pressing the "-" button. Not clever.

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After a while you realise that the only way forward in this car is slowly. The engine is so bad you just don't want to hear the banshee again, so you just dribble along at the speed of the slowest vehicle.

Brakes

The issue here is the crossover between the IMA recharge and the disk brakes. Initially as you slow down the IMA does as much braking as it can. But at low speed the disks take over and the IMA disconnects. This can be jerky, and occasionally the brake pedal can move around under your feet. Then, as you approach stationary, the engine turns off. Fine - this is "Auto stop", but you don't quite stop and then it almost immediately starts again, with a jerk. If you do stop, the engine remains off for a few seconds, then starts again. If you go when the engine is off, it starts with a small jerk but the CVT makes a big clonk as you get going. The overall result is clonky and jerky progress.

Steering

Most of this car is cheapened up Jazz running gear. But they made a special effort with the nastifying process for the steering. Anyone who has driven an old Jazz will know how poor the steering is - but the Insight is at a new level. Naturally it is dead, with not a single bit of feedback. The lack of self centering is annoying, fatiguing and sometimes dangerous. But the Insight has a new characteristic - a huge dead zone. So you can waggle the steering around and nothing happens. Or... the car moves naturally and you go to correct it but nothing happens. The result is constant steering, followed by a little anger and ultimately driver fatigue. It is one factor that makes the motorway such a nightmare (I'll come to the other one later).

Economy

If this car did 70 mpg, then you could forgive it a couple of minor flaws. But I did 6 journeys of between 50 and 80 miles, on dual carriageways and motorways. At 70 mph (cruise off) I got 55, 56 and 52 mpg. In the Accord I get 57 mpg. With the cruise on (and the cruise oddly couldn't hold a speed to within 4 mph) it did 49 mpg. On the dual carriageway runs (slower, with roundabouts), I got 48 and 46 mpg. The trip computer when I picked the car up showed an average of 47 mpg over 2,200 miles. The same as a diesel, and worse than a new eco-diesel.

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The car is fitted with a green Eco button. I soon discovered that this should be disconnected by the dealer. It made a poor car poorer, by breaking the air conditioning, crippling the engine power and torque and introducing a "smoothing" effect on the throttle. This was just more lag, on top of a lag-ridden transmission attached to a repulsive engine. Avoid the green button!

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The car is fitted with a tiny fuel tank (8 gals), so you have a hopeless range. I can do 4 commutes in the Accord, but just 2.5 in the Insight.

Interior

When you look around inside, things get worse again. I recently had use of a Kia Rio 3 - a cheap car that was no better in all departments than OK. But the 8k Kia had a better interior than the Insight (and better engine, steering, ride, power and more or less the same economy). The Insight plastics are spartan, hard and shiny. The design appears unfinished, with the satnav just thrown into a random space at a jaunty angle.

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The seats are terrible - one shade of cheap cloth on a hard, badly shaped frame. An old Jazz is several leaps ahead in terms of quality and appearance. The new Jazz is ahead yet another step.

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The door cards are thin and rattly and the A pillar is wide.

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Look behind you (and you'll be doing that a lot) and you can see... well, not much really. The lower screen is obscured by a net, the middle bar obscures the whole queue of cars behind you, and the wiper keeps the upper screen clear so you can see a small section of sky.

The first picture is focussed on the bar, the second has a van in it.

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Moving to the child seats in the rear you can see that the rear seats are as cheap and nasty in the rear as they are in the front. They are sitting on the fuel tank so are quite high - hence you can't get adults in the rear at all. Both me and my friend tester couldn't get our backs on the upright parts of the seat before our heads wedged against the roof.

The boot is half the size you'd hope for, because it's full of battery. But it's better than a Boxster.

Equipment

The radio quality is even poorer than a Civic. Tinny, boxy and cheap.

Smugness

I was going to write a long rant here about patronising displays. A speedo that glows different colours. A "well done" collection of trees at the end of a drive. A bad boy acceleration gauge. A glowing green tree on the dash and a green tree button. And a game of "growing" trees bit by bit.

I am not 5, and I have an IQ of more than 20. I'm sure you can imagine the rant.

Click the image to open in full size.

Ugly

Only one item here, and it's a biggy:

Suspension

The car is astonishing. It is rock hard. So hard, your keys will jangle on a smooth motorway surface. So hard, you'll beg for the comfort of a Type R (I'm not joking now). It bounces and shakes and vibrates like it is suspended by bricks. Of course it's got more road noise than anything you have tried before, but that's irrelevant. Predictably it crashes over the tiniest of bumps, but again, that is a minuscule problem compared to the ride.

Click the image to open in full size.

As you go down the road, everything is transferred to the cabin. My head shook constantly with the surface. About 5 Hz I reckon. And it's constant. My head also shook forward and backward. The car shook. The passenger seat when empty vibrates wildly. The pointless rear view mirror vibrates so much your view of the bar behind you is blurred. And there's no escape. Low speed, high speed, smooth road or rough road your head is bobbing and bouncing and the car is crashing and banging.

Here are my keys rattling on the M1. Turn up the volume (sorry again for the nasty camera).


On the M1, on my 4 journeys, I measured the number of miles to headache. 4 journeys, 4 headaches. All started at about 20 miles. If you turn the volume up on that Youtube video, you'll hear the keys rattling on a smooth section of M1. I am no pipe and slipper merchant, and I am used to hard cars. This one though is special. Harder than a 968CS. Bouncier than a Type R. Shakier than a GT3. And more unpleasant than any car I have ever driven, and I include a Series 2A Land Rover, an Austin 7, an original Nova and possibly even my all time worst ever car, a Mk 1 Golf diesel.

Conclusion

So here's a drive in an Insight. Approach the car and admire the looks. Tell your mates they can't get in the back without crash helmets. Open the door and feel the hollow ring. Shut it and hear the tinny clang. Admire the low rent shiny plastics. Adjust the hard uncomfortable seat. Start the engine and ignore all the green trees. Get going and the bouncing starts. Try and steer, but never be in full control. Bounce some more and start to dislike the car. Accelerate and hear the howl of the 1.0 Fiesta with the blown exhaust. Brake and feel the jerkiness. Listen to the radio and comment on the boxy sound. Look out of the back and see nothing. Bounce some more. Come to a halt and be presented with some trees. Get out and say "It's not quite what I expected".

Honda, I really look forward to Insight 2.1. May it be 1300 kg not 1200, with 100 kg of sound proofing to be wrapped around that wretched engine. Let it have softer springs and appropriate dampers. Give it an off switch for all the tree BS. Work on the stop/start software. Put better seats in it (current Jazz ones would be fine). Sound proof the interior. And put better electric steering in.

This car will help the environment. Only because you will want to go to the shops, look at the car, remember the nightmare, and decide to walk.

In the mean time, I will continue doing my bit by driving a diesel that's just as economical, but a thousand times better in every other way.

Links to other reviews:
http://www.whatcar.com/car-reviews/h...review/25886-5
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/dri...cle6294116.ece
http://www.autocar.co.uk/CarReviews/...1.3-SE/238798/

Finally, a massive vote of thanks to the lads at Holdcroft Honda for the loan of the car. As usual they are determined to go to great lengths to do what they can to keep their customers happy. Just lend me a Jazz next time my car's in...

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post #2 of 108 (permalink) Old 30th July 2009, 23:14
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What a superb review.
I hope Honda read this...I'm sure they will.
Mk 2 Insight.......they wont of course address all these problems.
I, like you, will stick with diesel...
Doesnt look good for the CRX though does it?
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post #3 of 108 (permalink) Old 30th July 2009, 23:17 Thread Starter
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I don't know. I just get the feeling with this car that the budget was the problem. To meet it they had to make everything as cheap and nasty as possible. With a bit more budget we know Honda can make a really great car.

Maybe the CRX will get the budget.
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post #4 of 108 (permalink) Old 30th July 2009, 23:26
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Top review, Pottsy

It sounds truly horrid and a car to steer clear from. I will wait until it's actually improved before considering it, I think!

Maybe my next car will be the diesel.
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post #5 of 108 (permalink) Old 30th July 2009, 23:34 Thread Starter
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It's frustrating because I too wanted to like it, maybe even wanted to own it (when it first appeared). The IMA is good, but the engine and the car it's inserted into isn't.
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post #6 of 108 (permalink) Old 30th July 2009, 23:59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pottsy View Post
It's frustrating because I too wanted to like it, maybe even wanted to own it (when it first appeared). The IMA is good, but the engine and the car it's inserted into isn't.
From the pics you show the interior looks really cheap and not well laid out. I haven't seen one in the flesh yet but it seems they need to take a fresh look at the whole car and make it a) driveable and b) likeable.

I personally won't buy a bad, cheap looking and cheaply made eco car just because it might help save the planet. If they make a good quality, well worth the money eco car then I would seriously consider it.
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post #7 of 108 (permalink) Old 31st July 2009, 01:03
 
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Great review, thanks a lot. I was considering that I could buy one but it seems a no-no.
As far as I have read about the tests of hybrids, they are economic if driven in town. On motorways, they can sometimes consume more than a bigger engined car, due to powerless engine and thus more numbers of down shifting.
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post #8 of 108 (permalink) Old 31st July 2009, 07:59
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I've read other reviews of the Insight and they are pretty much the same as yours with the major factor of disappointment being another example of Honda harsh suspension and 'noise intrusion'.

and yet ... it's outselling the Prius in some Eastern countries apparently ?!!!!

Hopefully next week I'm going to give an auto Civic a test and I'm also intending to give the normal Honda Hybrid a run to see how that fares with my driving style.

Thanks to this report, if try and get me to test an Insight I have some answers.
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Krem, try it for yourself. I'd hate to be the one that stops someone from trying something they may like...

I look forward to hearing your report on the Civ Auto that you will buy.
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post #10 of 108 (permalink) Old 31st July 2009, 12:47
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Good job, thank you
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post #11 of 108 (permalink) Old 31st July 2009, 13:42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pottsy View Post
Krem, try it for yourself. I'd hate to be the one that stops someone from trying something they may like...

I look forward to hearing your report on the Civ Auto that you will buy.


My hopeful tests next week (I'm just going to turn up) are just pre-ambles to next year. After next week I will have little time to go testing.

Before your review I had no intention of going Insight as the other reviews had already put me off. The Insight may be a fine City car but my daily 40 motorway miles would soon show it up.

When I had my first service I got 'Taxi'd' to work in a Civic Hybrid and I was quite impressed. Yes the driver was taking it easy so sound levels were low but it's just come second in the Which? large car category (Accord was first).

Have you heard anything about the rumoured suspension changes for MY10 ?
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post #12 of 108 (permalink) Old 31st July 2009, 13:49
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Pottsy - well done!

HM - I saw one in a Honda show room, thought "it doesn't look to bad", opened the door, thought "***** ********** ***** ** ****** ***** ******" and closed the door again.
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post #13 of 108 (permalink) Old 31st July 2009, 14:05
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As FWH above, when I was looking around to the showroom to buy my Civic I did look at the Insight (in the same way I did the CRV and S2000 just for the sake of it) and well, I looked inside and just walked away. It was totally the opposite reaction to when I peered inside the Civic for the first time.
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I've just come over from Insight Central where you cross posted this review. I'm not going to get into a flame war or anything (so it's safe to read this long post ) but here is my feedback on the review based on my experience with the car for the last four weeks and 1,450 miles.

I originally test drove the SE which is different from the ES-T you tested and I ended up buying the ES (which is the same as the ES-T but without the sat-nav). The only material difference between the SE and ES(T) is that the SE gets just 15" wheels and doesn't have VSA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pottsy View Post
The effect is small, you never get electric-only driving (well, below 50 mph you can press the throttle about half a millimetre and you can maintain a speed using electric-only, but the engine still runs so the only way to tell is by gazing at the gauges).
I can drive a good 2-3 miles on electric mode on the way to my parents home in Croydon that involves driving along the A23 which is fairly flat or downhill and has traffic lights and 30mph cameras dotted along it. I usually see the car drive on electric only quite a lot of that route. It uses petrol getting up to speed and then when I back off the throttle it goes electric only. I get 100mpg (off the scale) on the display and then regenerate some of the lost electric when slowing for each set of traffic lights. So it does work. The engine does still run (because the IMA motor is bolted on to the flywheel so it has to, but the valves shut and no petrol is consumed).

Quote:
The luggage space in the boot is sort of moderately OK, but clearly not as good as a regular hatch.
Granted, as you mention later this is because the lower part is partially filled with the NiMH battery. It had to go somewhere and this arrangement is better than the Civic Hybrid where the battery is in the rear seat back, which means that the seats don't go down and so the car was useless to me (or anyone else who buys long things from B&Q on a Saturday). I would have bought a Civic Hybrid a couple of years ago otherwise.

Quote:
Engine
The engine. Where do I start? The engine is a wretched little 4 cylinder 1.3 that has been tuned to make an unpleasant grating/screaming noise. On top of this it sounds like it has a hole in the exhaust, and no air filter. It makes very little power, but it makes a whole load of noise. More than you can ever imagine.
The air intake in modern cars is silenced and ducted (normally into the front wing). The Insight has no such arrangement; just a single bit of rubber with an opening - inside the bonnet. It's like someone was going to finish the job, but got distracted. Revving the engine with the bonnet open showed that there is a lot of mechanical noise from the top of the engine and a bit of noise from this intake.
It's quite noisy when revved hard. Agreed, but not "more than I can ever imagine". Certainly not unacceptably loud to my mind.

How many times have I had to rev it that hard in the 1,450 miles I covered in the 4 weeks since taking delivery?... maybe 10 times. Hardly lacking in power then. And I've used it for 95% of the time on the ECON setting with the reduced power output. That included A road and motorway driving at speeds between 50 and 70mph (nobody drives at illegal speeds in excess of 70mph, do they? ). The car is designed to cruise at 1,600RPM at any speed up to about 55mph... Driven like this, the engine is near silent. At 60mph it does 2,000RPM and at 70mph it does 3,000RPM. All are still quiet.

At up to 60mph the cruise control keeps within 1-2 mph of the set speed, even in ECON mode unless the slope is pretty steep on the motorway. At 70mph it struggles a bit more.

I took the anti-resonance garbage out of the Accord's intake system as it robbed power with all those convolutions and a RPM dependent ECU controlled restrictor valve. I was impressed by the simple design of the Insight intake that goes directly to the air grille to catch cold air coming into the compartment.

Quote:
Honda have decided to use the CVT (continuously variable transmission) on the Insight. As an engineer, this is always the dream solution....

Sadly, this does not suit the dismal engine in this car. The engine is quiet enough (but totally gutless) at very low revs, but as soon as you ask for some normal acceleration then the CVT drives the revs right up and you have this seriously loud, awful wail fill the car. Think of this: get a 1978 Ford Fiesta 1.0....
I owned a 1994 Fiesta 1.8 diesel... that was horrible. Like being in an old episode of Das Boot... "Make revolutions for 50mph!... WHAT!!! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!". The Insight is quiet unless you rev the nuts off it. I get plenty of "normal" acceleration out of it and I was used to a 2.2 Accord with over 150HP. I just accept that "normal" these days doesn't mean 0-60 in under 9s

Quote:
There are more problems with the drivetrain too. Because the revs languish at about 2,000 when you are holding speed, it takes a while for them to rise when you want to accelerate. It's like turbo lag on a massive scale, and makes overtaking a daunting prospect (and I'm thinking 30 mph tractor here). So Honda have fitted some flappy paddles.

You pull the "-" paddle and the revs jump up ready for the overtake. A little "gear" indicator displays a number, but of course this is all fake. So you jump the revs up, have a look, and.. Oh. The revs have dropped again after just a couple of seconds. It's back in Auto. So you have to sit there, constantly pressing the "-" button. Not clever.
If you down-shift in D mode and then don't boot the throttle immediately, the indicator flashes for a few seconds and then reverts to "normal D" mode as it figures you aborted the overtake. Conversely, if you press (-) to get hill descent engine braking and you press the throttle at all, it will revert to "normal D" mode as you obviously don't want engine braking any more. I was caught out by that logic as well until I read the manual.

If you want to use the manual gears as you expected, you should shift to S (Manual) mode where the manual gears "stick" unless you are in danger of taking the engine out of range. This is not the same as straight S mode, which is still automatic.

This might necessitate moving the gear selector to S from D if you can't get along with the logic that was programmed into the D mode but that's no different from my Accord where to overtake without waiting for a kick-down from 4 to 3, I'd have to shift the transmission from D4 to D3.

It's a radically different type of transmission to all that have gone before. It does work differently. It does drive differently. You get used to it and then wonder at why all those old cars still have 5 fixed cogs in them.

If you hate a CVT automatic then drive it in 7 speed Manual mode all the time! It's way more fun than my old 4 speed torque converter auto with the shift shocks and poor economy.

Quote:
Brakes
The issue here is the crossover between the IMA recharge and the disk brakes. Initially as you slow down the IMA does as much braking as it can. But at low speed the disks take over and the IMA disconnects. This can be jerky, and occasionally the brake pedal can move around under your feet.
I don't agree at all. The IMA regeneration is variable. As you start to coast down without using the brake it regens a little. If you touch the brake it goes up to ~25%. If you actually press the brake it will go up to somewhere between 50-100% depending on how hard you press and it continues to regenerate as you use the disk brakes until you are below about 10mph (where there's not much kinetic energy to extract so it stops trying). You need a lighter touch to make use of regen to slow down. You have to look further ahead when driving and plan for a stop so that you capture the most kinetic energy as electricity rather than blowing it as heat in the disks. It's a change in driving style even for me when I would look ahead more in the Accord to not accelerate so much if I could see that I'd have to stop in 200m. Now I have to look forward when slowing as well to take advantage of regeneration. It made no difference in the Accord how gently you slowed down as you just wasted the energy as heat no matter what.

If you just drive like everyone else (who stomp on the brake at the 100 yard marker before a roundabout) then you'll waste all that energy and you'll only see it regen at either near 0% or 100%.

Quote:
Then, as you approach stationary, the engine turns off. Fine - this is "Auto stop", but you don't quite stop and then it almost immediately starts again, with a jerk.
It can do this, I agree. Sometimes when parking it can be annoying to have auto-stop keep cutting in when you are trying to move just a few cm but you can avoid this by shifting to S mode when parking and then Auto-Stop does not engage much and it is easier to jiggle into a tight space. As you're having to shift from forward to reverse a lot anyway it makes almost no difference to what you have to do with the gear selector.

Quote:
If you do stop, the engine remains off for a few seconds, then starts again. If you go when the engine is off, it starts with a small jerk but the CVT makes a big clonk as you get going. The overall result is clonky and jerky progress.
The IMA does not "clonk". It is bolted to the flywheel with no gearing or clutch of any kind so nothing can "clonk". What I have sometimes noticed is a surge when the petrol engine adds its power to the IMA power as you pull away but I wouldn't describe it as a "jerk" by any means. It happens because the IMA will turn over the engine without using petrol and then when the car reaches a road speed that equals the petrol engine idling speed, the fuel will start to be used and there will be a slight surge as the petrol engine starts to add its power to that of the IMA motor. This is a very hard thing to disguise because the power units are permanently in series. Most of the time I don't even notice it.

The Auto-Stop engages for variable amounts of time, depending on lots of factors but I've had it often stop for the whole time I've waited at a red light (more than a minute).

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Steering
...The lack of self centering is annoying, fatiguing and sometimes dangerous. But the Insight has a new characteristic - a huge dead zone.
Mine self centers as expected. The dealer should check your demo car out as it clearly has a defect. The steering on my Insight is quite acceptably accurate and direct. It does respond to small corrections at speed and compared to the Accord that had the turning circle of an oil tanker, I love the speed of the Insight steering.

I was initially very sceptical about the electric power steering when I test drove the Insight because I'd had a very bad experience with an old Civic Hybrid that was loaned to me by my dealer when the Accord was in for a service. I drove the Civic to Reading that day (some 130 miles) and it had horrible electric PAS that felt notchy (like a stepper motor) and it wouldn't even go in a straight line properly. I had to turn the wheel to a point where it would "click over" and then suddenly change direction and then turn it the other way until it "clicked over" back and so on in a dangerous oscillation at motorway speeds.

So when I test drove the Insight, I was especially paying attention to what the steering was like and it seemed as normal as the hydraulic PAS in my Accord, except for being lighter and faster (the Accord PAS had been made heavier at parking speeds due to the use of 215x17 tyres).

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Economy
If this car did 70 mpg, then you could forgive it a couple of minor flaws.
The car is fitted with a tiny fuel tank (8 gals), so you have a hopeless range.
It does. I averaged 71mpg on a business trip to Norwich earlier this month - a 330 mile trip. On the first 100 miles, it read 74mpg and at the end of the first 160 miles it read 72mpg. I've been to Portsmouth and Staffordshire and my first 3 full to empty tanks have averaged 59.9mpg. That's real fuel economy as measured by 1,449.7 miles divided by 110.13 litres pumped.

Maximum range so far has been 474 miles from full to the warning light (5L remaining). This is way better than my Accord that could just manage about 450 miles on 55L of fuel (some way below the onset of the warning light at 10L remaining). A diesel Accord will get more range but the Insight range is quite comparable to any petrol engined car and all the more so for having a 40L tank instead of a 60L one!

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Interior
When you look around inside, things get worse again.
The seats are terrible - one shade of cheap cloth on a hard, badly shaped frame.
The door cards are thin and rattly and the A pillar is wide.
I thought the seats were much better than my old Accord. Not at first though. The Accord leather seats were more comfortable but encouraged you to sit badly. The Insight ones support my back and encourage me to sit upright. I had the same thing with my ergo-office chair at first. It was my posture that was wrong, not the chair.

I dunno about the cloth... I like blue and time will tell if it wears well or not. The Accord seats in my 1995 model got lumpy after a while but the ones in the 1996 were better (or just hadn't had a fatty sitting on them before me to break the foam / springs). The foam is quite hard on the Insight seats but I like that in the same way I like a hard mattress.

I did worry if the Insight seats would be comfortable enough for long trips but after three long trips (over 5 hours) it's proved fine.

The A pillar has an air bag in it so what do you expect?

The door panels are thin though... If you press on the inside to open the door rather than use the handle it bends! But the doors aren't tinny (not in the Fiesta sense) and all shut without having to slam them.

Quote:
Look behind you (and you'll be doing that a lot) and you can see... well, not much really. The lower screen is obscured by a net, the middle bar obscures the whole queue of cars behind you, and the wiper keeps the upper screen clear so you can see a small section of sky.
I noticed this straight off and it is a problem but the wing mirrors do make up for it as they are wide view types so I can point them more inward than the Accord ones to see what's behind and to the side quarter. The current Accord also has a much more restricted rear view than my 1996 model. They got around it by having a fancy rear view camera in the sat nav in the current model. I might have to get an aftermarket camera for my Insight .

Quote:
They are sitting on the fuel tank so are quite high - hence you can't get adults in the rear at all.
Depends on how tall your friends are. I can sit in the back just fine and I'm 173cm tall. It's got more leg room than my old Accord and there's no central tunnel so it means someone can sit in the middle without having to straddle the tunnel.

Quote:
The boot is half the size you'd hope for, because it's full of battery. But it's better than a Boxster.
As I said earlier... It's not as big as other cars but it is useful (unlike the boot in the Civic Hybrid). The little cubby hole with the lid (in the remaining space behind the battery) is actually really useful for keeping small things in and not having them roll around. You can also lower the central part of the deck by 10cm to make a space where bigger things (shopping bags) can be placed without having them roll around all over the boot. The seats go flat and make a quite big space that is almost flat to the tailgate so you don't have to bend your back to load things... Here's a 160cm x 78 cm 160W Solar panel in the back of my Insight.

Click the image to open in full size.

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Equipment
The radio quality is even poorer than a Civic. Tinny, boxy and cheap.
Dunno about the radio in the ES-T or the Civic but the radio in the ES is functional and actually sounds good enough that I don't feel the need to upgrade the speakers as they are bassy enough. I had to replace the horrid Accord speakers with JBLs. It's not going to satisfy the "club heads" but it goes plenty loud without distortion. I used to be a sound recording engineer and I think it's ok... Not great, but ok.

The radio at first seems disappointing (single CD, no changer option) until you realise it can take a flash memory USB card or an iPod with full display integration. I bought an iPod Classic for my Insight and it plugs into a special holder in the center arm rest with a hidden USB socket. It charges and transfers audio and remote display / control data so that the radio controls on the steering wheel can change tracks and the radio display shows artist/album/track info. It reads iPod playlists too so you can compose your various 200 track driving themes, if you want.

Way better than the in-dash CD changer in the Accord I tested a couple of years ago.

Other than that the equipment levels are pretty good and work well... Auto wipers, auto lights, electric windows, heated seats, the climate control works and keeps its set temperature. It does stop working when auto-stop engages but unless it's really hot this isn't a problem. How many "heat wave" days did we have this Summer? Ten. Besides, by turning ECON mode off and/or using S mode you can force the engine and AC to run.

The Civic Hybrid has an electric AC compressor so that it can run the AC all the time even when the engine is stopped.

I do miss the power moon roof from my Accord though...

Quote:
Smugness
I am not 5, and I have an IQ of more than 20. I'm sure you can imagine the rant.
No need to do a Clarkson... It's a bit of fun and it does help lots of "ordinary" mortal people who don't know how to drive economically to learn to do so.

In my experience, a lot of drivers on the road are of a mental age of about 5 with an IQ lower than my Accord's suspension.

But if the patronising green / blue glow annoys people that much and you're an expert hypermiler already then you can turn it off... It's a custom option in the car menu.

I don't pay much attention to the leaves and trees stuff but I do pay attention to the instantaneous mpg display and the colour changing speedo... Even I can get carried away and forget to drive economically when in a hurry but the nagging is what I need to realise that you aren't going to get there faster if you floor it at every set of lights as you'll just meet the next red light faster that's all...

Everyone can learn something... Apart from Clarkson

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Suspension
The car is astonishing. It is rock hard. So hard, your keys will jangle on a smooth motorway surface. So hard, you'll beg for the comfort of a Type R (I'm not joking now). It bounces and shakes and vibrates like it is suspended by bricks....
I thought it was too soft

Seriously, what you're describing sounds like a couple of incidents where the dealer has failed to take the transport rubber blocks out of the springs before delivery. They put these rubber blocks in the springs to stop excessive suspension travel while the cars are on the ship. I haven't noticed that the car is hard or crashy and the road noise is pretty quiet in my experience. I know what hard is... I had higher rate (but progressive) Eibach springs and Koni adjustable shocks on my Accord. The car rode low and hard (but at least the progressive springs made it ok on small bumps and uneven surfaces).

The Insight is soft and rolls with the punches a bit. I've had to increase the tyre pressure a bit to make it less squidgy. It rolls a lot more than the Accord (but less than with the stock Accord springs and shocks) and holds a line on a curve surprisingly well, considering the skinny tyres.

Mine doesn't vibrate like you claim and I've done over 1,450 miles in the last four weeks without any jangled nerves or teeth.

As for small diesels being just as economical as the Insight. Yes, on the open road. Not in town. They sit there, engines running and clattering like tractors (even the ones with 200kg of sound deadening), smoke pouring out the second the driver stamps on the throttle. Diesels are low on CO2 but high on particulates and all Euro diesels would be banned in the US. There they have to have extra smog controls on them that rob a lot of power and economy.

When I come home and drive up the steep slope at the M25/M23 interface, all I see on calm sunny days is a haze of diesel smoke from people in Passats and Mondeos gunning it up the hill at 90 with black smoke billowing out of their "eco-friendly" diesel rep-mobiles.

That Honda are wasting their time with diesel engines must make Soichiro Honda literally spin in his grave.

I'm not saying that hybrid petrol is the way to go. It isn't because it involves petrol. But spending the last few years developing an in-house diesel engine was a waste of time and research money when the oil is going to run out anyway. And no, we can't find 200 million barrels of vegetable oil every day to run the worlds fleet of cars on, so forget bio-diesel.
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post #15 of 108 (permalink) Old 31st July 2009, 20:52
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Great Review Pottsy.
How disappointing- not that I had any intention of buying one, I just had high expectations of the 2010 CRX.
Can we really expect the R & D of the CRX to be that far advanced of the Insight.??
Honda will be letting it loose whilst we are still in a recession, so they must be squeezing the costs down.
Hope it doesn't turn out to be just a Cocktail Party Parker, for tree huggers cruising down the Kings Road.
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post #16 of 108 (permalink) Old 31st July 2009, 21:59 Thread Starter
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OuttaSight, thank you for joining us and providing some balance.

Firstly I will concede to a couple of things. I did try S mode, and I did try overtaking, but I never put the two together. My mistake.

Also, I wasn't really clear about the radio. The head unit in the ES-T is nothing short of excellent. It's a standard Honda/Alpine item and I have it in my new CRV EX, and coupled with an array of decent speakers and a subwoofer (all OE) it works well and sounds fab. I have an 8Gb CF card in it, and that too works well. What I meant to say was that the 1400 unit in the Insight has not been connected to decent speakers and the sound I felt was very tinny and boxy. I tend to use the current Civic as a reference point here (for obvious reasons) and it's certainly worse than that (so most readers here will know what to expect).

I wrote that the CVT clonks from auto-stop to go, not the IMA. When you are just holding on the foot brake (engine stopped) and you just go and press the throttle an inch, does your car not clonk loudly as the drive takes up?

Likewise I understand what you wrote about the brakes. I too played the same game; try to get all braking regenerative, without using the disks. But at low speed regenerative stops and the disks take over - does your brake pedal not sink a bit when that happens? Does the braking effect not vary with a constant pedal pressure?

So far as economy goes, there are at least 3 ways of approaching this.

1. You drive a car to get from A to B with maximum economy. It sounds like you have done a bit of this (I have too, for interest) but this is not a common sport. So I didn't bother doing this with the Insight.

2. Most people drive at a certain speed on the motorway, or a certain style around town. What happens when you swap cars but retain styles? I tried to test this because this is what I suspect most owners will do.

3. What happens if you behave as per 2., but are coached slightly by all the tree symbols. This I also believe is a plausible scenario, so again tried to simulate this.

I am certain that when 1. is applied to the Insight on low speed roads, the economy will be laudable. I was getting around 52 in town, compared to 46 in the Accord.

When I used method 2/3 I got 47 or so around town. This is also what the Insight had averaged for it's last 2000 miles - so still good but no different to a modern diesel. You can see the 47 mpg on trip B here:

Click the image to open in full size.

Finally the motorway test. Of course this is the worst place for a hybrid, but I was surprised to see economy consistently worse than my Accord (for the same 70mph driving style). Now when it comes to motorways, I am not prepared to go slower - I have to drive 80 miles each way to work all of it on the motorway and I have no intention of battling with the trucks at 56 mph! I believe this is a true and valid test, because there are many people like me who live on the motorway and want to know what will happen when they ditch their 60 mpg diesel.

The range on my Accord is 700 miles - I quite like this and stand by my observation that the 400 mile range on the Insight is a step down (400 miles when doing my motorway driving).

Finally, the harsh suspension and vague steering. I am fascinated by the fact that you find the suspension almost too soft. On my car, if you put all of your weight on the front wing then the wing bent but the car didn't move. Even a Type R moves a tiny bit! Others have written:

So you’re sitting there with the engine screaming its head off, and your ears bleeding, and you’re doing only 23mph because that’s about the top speed, and you’re thinking things can’t get any worse, and then they do because you run over a small piece of grit.

They will see the poor ride, the woeful performance, the awful noise and the spine-bending seats as a price worth paying.

Against Harsh ride, engine and gearbox refinement, economy

but the front suspension crashes noisily into potholes, while the rear end can be bucked about by speed humps.

Against Overtaking on the motorway almost requires planning permission and ear defenders; steering has virtually no feel.


I will contact the dealer immediately and see if they have left the shipping blocks in, and I'll report back here.
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Very interesting reviews - pottsy and outtasight. An 'against' and 'for' in effect.

I had toyed with the idea of getting the insight or equivalent in 4 years when I change my civic but it will have to be a lot better than pottsy's review. I agree that people will not change their driving style when they change cars - or may do so but over a period of time - so pottsy's review is, I feel, more relevant for most of us.

In the mean time I am very happy with my civic.
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Originally Posted by Pottsy View Post
OuttaSight, thank you for joining us and providing some balance.

Also, I wasn't really clear about the radio... What I meant to say was that the 1400 unit in the Insight has not been connected to decent speakers and the sound I felt was very tinny and boxy.
Happy to oblige.

Granted the radio (especially such an expensive nav unit based one) could do with being married with more that the usual 20 cones but I didn't immediately think, "urgh... these have to go!" when I listened to them. Most cars I've had I've had to rip out the whole stereo ond speakers on the same day as getting the car

That 1,600 list price for the sat nav / HFT is a total rip-off too... So I plumped for the ES and a new iPod and my phone that runs TomTom software.

Quote:
I wrote that the CVT clonks from auto-stop to go, not the IMA. When you are just holding on the foot brake (engine stopped) and you just go and press the throttle an inch, does your car not clonk loudly as the drive takes up?
Nope, no "clonks". After writing my epic post, I went out today really paying attention to the behaviour of the car at low speeds when puling away from auto-stop - just to check the tint on my rose tinted glasses, so to speak. And I still think it pulls away very smoothly apart from the odd surge now and then. I expect it's not so much a "surge" as a "glitch" if the first cylinder that actually "fires" after the injectors are enabled and the ignition fires that the power delivery isn't perfect on the first "power on" cycle of the petrol engine.

To have the transmission "clonk" is something I haven't felt / heard on my ES or on the SE demonstrator I drove for 30 minutes around town and on open country roads. Again it sounds like a defect and that in itself might be a worry if your demonstrator has started to fail after only 3 months of being mis-used by all and sundry in the name of "testing" a car. Most demonstrators will have never had the luxury of being "run in" but will have done 1/4 mile standing starts from the day they were born .

My Accord took 150,000 miles and year after year of pounding on its auto transmission without a hiccup. I did hear rumours that the auto boxes used in the US 3.0 V6 Coupe Accord was weak and prone to failures but thank god, mine was bullet proof.

The CVT drive band itself is made by a Dutch company that was bought by Bosch and far from old CVTs that were only suitable for limited torque engines (because they operated as pull bands), this one is a steel push band type and Bosch rate it to over 400Nm or torque. Under load, the band behaves like a solid steel bar between the pulleys, so it doesn't yo-yo. There's a clutch on the output of the final drive (rather than the input as on most designs) and that's what controls the "creep" simulation on the CVT. This was added to give traditional torque converter auto drivers the familiar and useful feature of the car creeping forwards when you let the foot brake go. I don't know the lifespan of this clutch but it should be quite long as it is on the final drive before the wheels so it slips at very low RPMs, unlike a manual transmission clutch that slips at the engine RPMs on the transmission input so would wear out in no time at all.

My main concern with it is what happens with age. Does the part of the pulleys which represent the overdrive ratio that the transmission control unit goal seeks towards end up getting worn down and then you get some weird jerkiness as the band rolls over the lip that will have been worn into the pulleys? Only time and 150,000 miles will tell.

Quote:
Likewise I understand what you wrote about the brakes. I too played the same game; try to get all braking regenerative, without using the disks. But at low speed regenerative stops and the disks take over - does your brake pedal not sink a bit when that happens? Does the braking effect not vary with a constant pedal pressure?
Tried this out today and yes, I do now notice that the pedal sinks a little sometimes but it didn't change the braking effect level. But this was not at low speed but when starting to brake from 50mph, using regen at first and then more regen and finally applying real pressure in the last 20m to actually stop.

A problem that is more noticeable is when you've been going down-hill for a long time (like when I went to Stoke-on-Trent a couple of weeks ago). I had been regenerating for a couple of miles down a 10% grade and the battery became full (quite a rare occurence, by design). Then you notice a marked loss of braking effect, because you lose the regen braking effect. Instead, I had to down-shift the transmission to increase engine braking effect. This might seem a problem but I'd have had to down-shift my Accord to D3 in the same way to avoid using the brakes too much and heating the disks. In the Insight, it just takes longer before you have to down-shift.

This was greatly improved from the Civic Hybrid I borrowed before, which was programmed to keep the battery as full as possible. This had the unpleasant effect that now and then (even when driving on normal roads without long down-hills) that the battery would periodically become full and you would reach the next junction and expect regen + mechanical braking only to be surprised that there was no regen braking and you had to quickly adjust your foot pressure to use more mechanical braking. I didn't like it at all and was anxious to see if the Insight suffered from the same "quirk". It doesn't because this time Honda programmed the battery management system to try and maintain about 50-60% charge so that there is (nearly) always some capacity left with which to absorb energy from regenerative braking. Once the battery gets nearly full, the system shifts the affinity for regeneration to more assist in order to lower the average state of charge back towards 50-60%.

Obviously, fitting a bigger battery would help this or a system to divert the excess electricity to a dump load would cure the problem but I don't know where are they going to be able to fit a 5kW fan heater in the chassis to act as a dump load

Quote:
So far as economy goes, there are at least 3 ways of approaching this.

1. You drive a car to get from A to B with maximum economy. It sounds like you have done a bit of this (I have too, for interest) but this is not a common sport. So I didn't bother doing this with the Insight.

2. Most people drive at a certain speed on the motorway, or a certain style around town. What happens when you swap cars but retain styles? I tried to test this because this is what I suspect most owners will do.

3. What happens if you behave as per 2., but are coached slightly by all the tree symbols. This I also believe is a plausible scenario, so again tried to simulate this.
It could well be that the Insight isn't the "Hybrid for Everyone" that Honda hopes. It may only be the hybrid for those who have decided to hang up their racing gloves and drive in "style 1" .

All I know is that my usual driving style in the Accord was incompatible with my wife (she got car sick if I accelerated too hard or pulled a lot of Gs on bends...). The Accord was a vastly superior drive to the Insight but I can't use it anymore so that just left me with a high performance car that was used to 10% of its capability and massive fuel bills. On the flat milage rates I get for work I lost money on every mile I drove in the Accord driving it the old way (pegged at 70mph... Officer ).

Quote:
When I used method 2/3 I got 47 or so around town. This is also what the Insight had averaged for it's last 2000 miles - so still good but no different to a modern diesel. You can see the 47 mpg on trip B here:
Probably quite true, except for the effect of auto-stop which does two things. Stops nearly all fuel consumption when crawling along in M25 or inner city stop-go traffic at an average 3mph. It also makes a traffic jam a quiet place. If all cars had auto-stop technology then traffic jams would be quiet, pollution free places. With a bunch of diesels sitting in a line it's anything but that. Diesels produce their worst pollution when sitting in stop-go traffic because the drivers are always revving the engine to engage the clutch, accompanied by a little puff of smoke each time and a clatter of valves. Most diesels still sound noisy at the transition from idle to moving. My freind's Passat was a good case. It sounded quiet and not much different to a petrol engine at 25mph but when pulling away, that's when you heard the diesel sound.

The exception was the Accord diesel I tried a couple of years ago. That was much more petrol like (so much so that you had very little torque at idle and had to rev it a bit to pull away). My Massey Ferguson Fiesta sounded like a tractor all the time but I could drive it from zero to 5th gear without using the throttle! Just let out the clutch and off it went without even thinking of stalling. I tried it in the 2.2 diesel Accord. It stalled

Quote:
Finally the motorway test. I believe this is a true and valid test, because there are many people like me who live on the motorway and want to know what will happen when they ditch their 60 mpg diesel.
It is a valid test (for now) and people will resist the suggestion to save 30% on their fuel bill by driving at 50-55mph rather than at 70-80mph (and that's being genererous... most are still sailing along at 80-90 in the fast lane).

You have a choice in this country (and so it should be) but faced with a 1.20 litre of petrol / diesel it won't be long before only the rich can exercise their choice to go faster. All of the last really big reserves of oil (North Sea, Saudi, etc.) were discovered in the late 1960's. Nothing of that scale has been found since then, despite the billions spent on geo-surveying. All the "easy" oil has already been found.

I used to work in Leatherhead and Reading and it's a 130 mile commute, round trip to Reading. As I said, the expenses payments didn't cover the expense at a steady 70mph each way. They did if I drove to work at 60mph each way.

It was a rare day when I could even do the run at 70mph. Most mornings the M25 or M4 would have at least one crash or problem and the door to door average speed for the 65 mile trip out was usually about 32mph (mostly 10-20mph between the A3 and the M3 and another 20 minutes sitting in a queue to get on the M4). A hybrid with auto-stop will trounce a typical diesel in these everyday conditions.

In fact, I invented the coaching light a long time ago on my Accord! I rigged a spare indicator light in the dash to the VTEC cam actuator solenoid so that I knew when I was on the high cam. If I drove so that I kept the light off all the time, I got much better mileage. The Accord had the VTEC-E system that was programmed not just on the RPM threshold but on engine load as well so it was geared for economy rather than outright power. The 2.0 Prelude I owned had the DOHC performance VTEC system and returned 28mpg at best (the Accord used to turn in about 34).

As a cost cutting exercise, my company has closed a lot of London offices and the outer-M25 rim offices and we now work at home. That's fine for me as I'm in IT and provided I can get a decent internet connection, I'm as good as at my office. The upshot is that I don't have to drive 48 miles a day to Leatherhead or 130 miles a day to Reading any more. The Insight is for the occasional trip to a remote office (I spent a week in a hotel in Birmingham working at one of our offices as they wanted everyone together) and recreational use (we drove to Vienna for our honeymoon). But the current economy that dictates that people live 80-130 mile round trip commute from their place of work will soon be wholly uneconomic.

I still want to travel the length and breadth of the country (and Europe) at will for tourism but drive 130 miles a day for work? Nope, it can't work in the future.

Quote:
The range on my Accord is 700 miles - I quite like this and stand by my observation that the 400 mile range on the Insight is a step down
It is and maybe if I had to drive that much, I'd want a car with that long legs. But our working lives will all change in the next 5-10 years (mine already has). You will go bankrupt if you continue to put those miles in daily. If you don't, your company will because they won't be able to sustain the expense payments. Hauliers are already going out of business because of fuel prices. Ok, most of the cost is tax but it's still the case that fuel is a limited resource and will become only more limited over time. Even if it doesn't and we find a vast new basin of oil somewhere, we can't afford to actually burn it. The fuel tax will be augmented by carbon taxes.

Quote:
Finally, the harsh suspension and vague steering. I am fascinated by the fact that you find the suspension almost too soft. On my car, if you put all of your weight on the front wing then the wing bent but the car didn't move. Even a Type R moves a tiny bit! Others have written:

So you’re sitting there with the engine screaming its head off, and your ears bleeding, and you’re doing only 23mph because that’s about the top speed, and you’re thinking things can’t get any worse, and then they do because you run over a small piece of grit.
Clarkson wrote that last bit... Do you trust anything he says?

I love Jezza but he's a class one, grade A idiot.

Today I tried pumping up the 16" tyres from their "too soft" 32PSI (Honda recommended), beyond the 36PSI that I thought was "acceptable" to 40PSI today. Now it's a lot more jiggly and there's a lot of road noise when rolling from a good bit of tarmac to a 20 year old bit with all the hardcore poking out of the dissolved tar. And now it would be a bad idea to hit a protruding manhole cover at speed...

Maybe Honda went too cheap on the tyres? I changed from one type of 17" Bridgestone Potenza tyre to a newer type that replaced it on my Accord and the change in road noise from the tyres was astounding! They were sooo much quieter.

Tyres are just as big an influence on noise and handling as any other aspect of the suspension. I'm willing to bet the ES and ES-T are more noisy than the SE simply because they were upgraded to 16" wheels from 15". My Accord came with 15" 195x60 tyres and was a totally different beast from the same car on 17" wheels (even before I changed the springs and shocks). 15"s feel much more vague than 17"s, which tell you a lot more about the road, but 17"s tram-line like mad...

Top Gear also slated the top end Accord a couple of years ago when they decided to up the ante and give it 18"s. They noted that the ride got a lot worse than with the basic 16" wheels.

As for the rest of the quotes you copied from the Clarkson review, I disagree with them mostly one hundred percent. I'll agree that the Insight makes a noise when overtaking. It's not a good noise, like the throaty roar of my old 2.2 and I certainly wouldn't turn the radio off in order to listen to it sing at the red line (as I used to in the Accord). But I'm never going to have to wear ear defenders or ask permission to pull out from behind a truck and do the 50-70. Now those Smart cars driving on the motorway, bumping off their limiters at 80mph..? Shouldn't be allowed in my book.

One thing he said was true (and blindingly obvious)... Honda need to stop messing about with these infernal combustion engines and figure out how to make the FCX for less than the $1m it costs for each one today and get back to building nice fast cars that just happen to also Save the Planet at the same time.
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post #19 of 108 (permalink) Old 1st August 2009, 21:05
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Originally Posted by HappyMan View Post
From the pics you show the interior looks really cheap and not well laid out. I haven't seen one in the flesh yet but it seems they need to take a fresh look at the whole car and make it a) driveable and b) likeable.

I personally won't buy a bad, cheap looking and cheaply made eco car just because it might help save the planet. If they make a good quality, well worth the money eco car then I would seriously consider it.
Suggest that you have a good look and try it out for yourself as I did and I found that it`s not that bad at all, but of course if you want to take somebody else`s opinion as gospel instead of finding out for yourself then that`s up to you
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Jazzman, the interior is not that bad if you consider a Kia Rio not bad. They are similar - hard, basic plastic, thin door cards and random design. But the Rio is 9k and this car 18k. The Jazz is miles better than the Insight.

Click the image to open in full size.

OuttaSight,

Quote:
If all cars had auto-stop technology then traffic jams would be quiet, pollution free places. With a bunch of diesels sitting in a line it's anything but that.
But - modern eco diesels do have auto-stop! Not been in a 320d recently? You can't argue hybrid vs diesel on that count.

Quote:
You will go bankrupt if you continue to put those miles in daily. If you don't, your company will because they won't be able to sustain the expense payments.
Who these days is able to claim their commute on expenses? I thought most people, like me, have to either stump up for the car and the fuel, or pay thousands in rail season tickets.

I can't use anything but a car, and I have to do 70mph on the motorway. I am contractually obliged to be in work 90 minutes from a phone call, and at 82 miles (with a 7 minute walk at the other end) it's 70mph or no job.

Quote:
Clarkson wrote that last bit... Do you trust anything he says?

I love Jezza but he's a class one, grade A idiot.
I disagree. I have worked with him and Jonathan, and have found quite the opposite. Granted, his style is to turn the gain up slightly, but with an occasional bit of opinion attenuation he is generally as right as any other journalist.

Quote:
As for the rest of the quotes you copied from the Clarkson review, I disagree with them mostly one hundred percent.
Those other quotes were from other magazines, and not from Clarkson:

Against Harsh ride, engine and gearbox refinement, economy

but the front suspension crashes noisily into potholes, while the rear end can be bucked about by speed humps.

Against Overtaking on the motorway almost requires planning permission and ear defenders; steering has virtually no feel.

So, what about the real issues? I originally said I quite like the IMA, and to be fair I would have no major grumbles at the CVT if it wasn't for the desperately loud and coarse engine it amplifies. With a near silent engine as found in nearly every current car, it would be fine.

Let's be a buyer who commutes a long distance and is looking for something economical to buy:

 Kia Rio 1.5Civic 2.2 EXInsight ES-T08 Accord 2.2
Price ()9k18k19k21k
MPG60575558
Interior qualityBasicGoodBasicExcellent
Interior spaceOKExcellentLimitedGood
RideOKOKDireExcellent
EngineOKExcellentDireExcellent
PerformanceOKExcellentPoorGood
RefinementOKGoodDireExcellent
SteeringOKGoodDireExcellent
HifiPoorOKPoorGood

As I see it, you spend 19k on an Insight and get the engine, ride, interior, sounds, steering and so on that you get on a 9k car, with no significant improvement in economy. I understand that the Insight will appeal to a tiny minority, but the shame is that if Honda had made the car as good as a Civic (or even a Jazz) then many more people would be buying it.

I hopped into a new Jazz after returning the Insight, and it was like jumping from a Citroen into a Mercedes. And the Jazz was 5,000 cheaper than the Insight...
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