Honda Insight 1.3

IMA ES-T Hybrid CVT

I HAVE to say the world of hybrid motoring is starting to grow on me and that's just as well really as it's certainly the future for the industry.

Admittedly at times the eerily quiet engine can be an issue - mainly for unsuspecting pedestrians - but the Honda Insight has so many features that just seem so politically correct.

The test model was fitted with Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) petrol-electric hybrid system which basically means the 1.3 petrol-driven engine takes the strain when accelerating and then automatically switches to electric mode when cruising. The battery even recharges itself.

And that results in a vehicle that boasts impressively low emissions, excellent fuel efficiency and a pretty good drive too.

To be brutally honest, the Insight is not the most inspiring of designs, but the five-door hatchback does have plenty of great qualities including room to carry five adults with ample leg and head room for those relegated to the back seat.

There are numerous storage compartments and a very generously-sized boot that can transport all the family's luggage needs and more besides.

Inside, you are greeted by a very smart, eye-catching design and you cannot fail to be impressed by the dazzling dashboard with dials, readouts and panels that would not look out of place on a spaceship.

There are panels to show how efficiently you are driving and even an ECO button to further enhance efficiency - needless to say, many of these features are green in appearance - that's just a gently reminder what this car is all about.

Creature comforts are very comprehensive with a multi-function steering wheel offering paddle shift gear options along with air con complete with pollen filter, a sound system that has MP3 and RDS compatibility, sat nav with Traffic Message Control, automatic lights and lots, lots more - in fact, rarely have I seen such a large spec sheet with everything included in the asking price.

The drive was also most impressive. My only gripe would be the poor visibility through the rear window due to the sloping tailgate. But that aside, it dealt with busy city centre traffic with easy, manoeuvring swiftly through sharp bends and tight corners and parking was also very easy.

Then out on the faster roads, it certainly held its own accelerating efficiently through the automatic transmission, although one word of warning, the drive at times can be deceptively smooth and before you realise it you have reached higher speeds, so keep a watchful eye on the speedo.

The Insight boasts an impressive list of safety features including anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist, numerous airbags and plenty more.

FAST FACTS

Honda Insight 1.3 IMA ES-T Hybrid CVT

Price: £19,385

Mechanical: 87bhp, 1,339cc, 4cyl hybrid engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 113mph

0-62mph: 12.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 61.4

Insurance Group: 6

C02 emissions: 105g/km

Bik rating: 15%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 90,000 miles

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