Yes, in case there was any doubt it was game-on in the ?hybrid wars?, Honda?s new Insight, revealed to the media today prior to its appearance at the Melbourne International Motor Show, is one very handsome and well-balanced car.
The Insight, recently released in North America and Japan, and soon for launch in Europe, is currently ?the world?s most affordable hybrid?.
It is also, as Honda Australia Managing Director and CEO, Mr Yasuhide Mizuno said, selling up a storm. Where sales in Japan were predicted at 5000 a month for the new Insight, it has sold 10,000 in the two weeks from launch. (And this is in an economy in deep recession, Japan?s GDP having shrunk by nearly three percent in the last quarter.)
Global sales to date stand at 17,000 units. On these sales indications, and on its stylish looks, Honda would appear to have a winner on its hands.
?The Insight marks the beginning of a new phase in Honda?s hybrid vehicle strategy, which includes the Civic Hybrid, as well as a new vehicle based on the CR-Z concept and a new Jazz hybrid,? Mr Mizuno said.
With a responsive 1.3 litre i-VTEC petrol engine with variable cylinder management which shuts down cylinders according to load, and Honda?s electric Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, combined with a battery that is 31 percent more compact and 35 percent lighter than previous-gen technology, the Insight is the first of the next generation of clean hybrid vehicles.
With sharp lines and a beautiful interior, this viewing of the Insight shows that ?hybrid? is not synonymous with ?drab?.
The new Insight is as modern as tomorrow. If it drives like it looks, Honda?s new clean warrior may blow the hybrid market right open.