By Asian Journal Auto Editor
With gasoline prices spiking up yet again in British Columbia, it may be time to think about a hybrid car. Drum roll please! As we welcome, the 2019 Honda Insight Hybrid. Based on the Award winning Civic sedan, the Insight arrives with a hybrid powertrain – note that’s not an electric plug in system, but a gasoline engine and electric motor. The battery and electric motor combo allows the Insight to be driven solely on its battery under certain low-speed conditions, usually for a few kilometers before the gasoline engine kicks in. You don’t plug the Insight into an electric outlet; instead the Insight recharges itself by capturing energy via active methods such as regenerative braking, to keep a charge in the lithium-ion battery automatically. The Insight delivers very favourable fuel economy with the LX and EX trims offering a rating of (4.3/4.8 L/100km) city/highway, while the Touring trim has a lower rating of (4.6/5.2 L/100km).
The Insight’s hybrid system consists of a 1.5-liter four cylinder engine that produces 107 hp and 99 lb-ft of torque, teamed with an electric motor that makes 129 hp and 197 lb-ft of torque, a generator motor, and a 60-cell lithium-ion battery pack. The top-level premium Touring trim as tested includes: perforated leather trimmed seats, leather wrapped sports steering wheel, power-adjustable and heated front seats, a moonroof, mobile hotspot capability, a navigation system, LED foglights, and a Honda Link subscription that can remotely lock/unlock the car, help you find your car, and check the fuel and range status. The Touring trim also adds a very powerful d 10-speaker (including subwoofer), 450-watt audio system. Safety is high with the standard Honda Sensing package including: automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, and traffic sign recognition, and automatic headlights.
I have to say, when I entered the car, it felt like a roomy top level Accord such is the level of finish. Good taste, careful design and thought have really gone into the Insight. You are surrounded by soft-touch, leather- like surfaces with contrast double stitching, like on premium luxury cars. It’s all there on the padded dash, armrests and door panels. I like the Insight’s flat cellphone shaped tray near under the center console that allowed even my big iPhone 8 with its Otter box case to rest. There are two USB ports next to it so you can easily charge you’re mobile.
The Insight’s instrument cluster is from its big brother Accord and features a very clear 7.0-inch screen combined with an analog speedometer on the right. A cool display of lighting changes color depending on drive mode. The center stack’s 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen feature bright graphics and is quick acting to commands. The proper volume knob control is back! And much easier to use than the touchscreen feature of the past. The cabin is roomy, front and rear, the back seat is spacious, and Honda has managed to find a way not to compromise the rear space like many hybrids by packing the battery pack and small 10.6-gallon fuel tank under the rear seats, allowing the trunk to maintain the Civic sedan’s cargo capacity of 14.7 to 15.1 cubic feet as well as the ability to fold down the rear seats.
On the road, the Insight is smooth, quiet and composed in normal driving. The Insight’s electric motor assist in quick initial takeoff. Three driving modes are available, including a Normal, EV and Sport modes. Activating the EV mode button allowed the insight to use only the 1.1kWh lithium-ion battery at low speeds for a brief amount of time, usually a few kilometers until the gasoline engine kicks in. Normal driving mode offers a good combination of power and efficiency. Econ mode maximizes fuel efficiency by reducing throttle response, and Sport mode increases throttle response and draws more energy from the battery for maximum power output. Sport mode also adjusts the Active Sound Control feature for a more aggressive engine note. Honda’s as standard Agile Handling Assist feature improves cornering with the use of brake torque vectoring. The amount of regenerative braking can be adjusted with the standard paddle shifters.
The Insight biggest strength is that it looks like a normal Honda Civic sedan, a design now in its 10th-generation. The last update proving itself as a neat, good-looking great handling car. Most hybrids look a little offbeat and ungainly, but the Civic allows you to be green without telling everyone. Highly recommended.
2019 Honda Insight Hybrid Touring: Priced from $35,190. www.honda.ca