Honda Insight

The Essentials

  • Price from £16,995
  • What Car? says: 2 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 64.2mpg
  • What is it? A cheaper alternative to the Toyota Prius hybrid, but it's way too compromised in too many areas.

Great

  • Efficient hybrid engine
  • Practical enough for everyday family use
  • Well equipped

Gripes

  • Hybrid powertrain is rather weedy and unrefined
  • Not very good to drive
  • Unappealing cabin materials
  • Drive

    Disappoints in pretty much every area

  • Inside

    Controls are easy to use, but the digital speedo is concealed by the steering wheel. Rear visibility is awful

  • Safety

    Six airbags, traction and stability control are standard, along with plenty of security features to keep your car safe

  • Reliability

    Should be rock solid, but the materials don't have the quality feel we'd expect

  • Space

    Lots of legroom, but sleek shape limits headroom. Shallow boot has more space than a Ford Focus's

  • Standard and extras

    All get climate control, alloy wheels, electric windows and steering-wheel mounted controls; upgrade for more treats

  • What's it like to drive?

    The power produced by the Insight's 1.3-litre petrol engine and electric motor is enough for urban journeys, but the car struggles to reach the national limit, and overtaking on the motorway is slow. This is particularly true if you engage the Insight's Econ switch, which reduces engine output for better efficiency.
    Refinement is poor, too, because the engine makes an incredible racket when you need to accelerate hard. The gearbox is jerky at slow speeds, and the start-stop system is annoyingly hesitant.
    The light steering is useful in town but there's not enough feel when you're going faster and it can feel rather twitchy on the motorway. The ride is on the lumpy side, and potholes can be felt thudding uncomfortably into the cabin.

  • What's it like inside?

    The Insight's dashboard has a futuristic design, but the hard plastics feel anything but cutting-edge, and the materials are worse lower down. The air-con controls are fussy and smaller drivers may find that the steering wheel obstructs the digital speedometer. The two-part rear window hampers rearward visibility, too, so it's just as well that the large door mirrors give you a better view behind.
    There's lots of legroom in all five seats, but the car's low roofline limits headroom, especially in the back. The boot is rather shallow, but it's larger than a Ford Focus's and has a handy under-floor compartment.
    Base SE trim includes climate control, alloy wheels, electric windows and steering-wheel-mounted controls, while ES cars add cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers and gearshift paddles on the steering wheel. ES-T cars get sat-nav and Bluetooth, while EX models add leather upholstery and voice-operation on the sat-nav.

  • How reliable is it?

    The battery is designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle and Honda has an excellent overall record for reliability. However, while interior's fit and finish are good, the quality of some materials leaves much to be desired.
    Every Insight is fitted with front, side and curtain airbags, plus traction and stability controls. The car achieved the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP's crash tests.

  • Should I buy one?

    The Insight has several shortcomings, but it's cheaper than a Prius. However, Honda are notoriously mean with discounts, so the difference probably won't turn out to be that much. The Prius also has better fuel economy and emissions than the Insight.