Honda Insight VTi review: the inner city car you need

I’ve never been on a road trip.

So when the people at Honda offered up a brand new 2012 Honda Insight VTi car with a full tank of petrol and their permission to take the beauty anywhere I liked for a week, how could I not accept?

Funnily enough, their offering of the car came-up at the most coincidental point of time, given I was due to embark on a pre-planned road trip with friends to the northern reaches of Sydney shortly after. This car, I was told, was the machine for the job.

For those of us who genuinely care about the environment, carbon emissions and all the other greenwashed terms we’re all too accustomed to, this car is one of the ideal combattants for environmental pollution.

You’ve no doubt heard of a hybrid car? They run on a combination of electricity and petrol and are the biggest craze around Europe. That’s what the Honda Insight VTi is; a hybrid.

Everyone I told that I was driving one undoubtably asked the same question, “Do you need to plug it into a wall over night?” as apparently, that’s how they operate in Europe. Given I’ve never been and know only this version of hybrid that charges its own battery at every given chance while it’s being driven, I felt obliged to up-turn my nose and respond negatively.

That’s what was the most amazing part about the car: it’s fuel efficiency. With each roll down a hill, the battery charges. With each touch of the brake, the battery charges, with each prolonged use of the brake pedal – say, if you’re approaching stop lights – and you’re under around 10kmph, the battery charges. It’s all about friction and it seems that the people at Honda, at every opportunity, have taken the typical working day of a metropolitan car and incorporated it into a recycle system that in-turn benefits the car and its operation. Genius.

That’s also what kept me going throughout my short but expensive trip to Sydney; the fuel efficiency. We were set the challenge of making it from Melbourne to Sydney on one tank of petrol, which because of the efficiency of the car and its tendency to use electricity where and when it can, could’ve been made a possibility. One mere tank of unleaded petrol got us from Melbourne to Yass just outside of Canberra before we had to refuel, which even the cost only $40. Coming from a car that can cost in excess of $100 to fill, there’re no surprises when I proclaimed how much I never wanted to return the car to Honda. Sad times.

Even once you’ve stopped at an intersection, traffic lights, out the front of a friend’s home, wherever, the engine essentially shuts down. It’s an odd sensation to become used to at first and thankfully, I’d been pre-warned about the car’s tendency to do so, but it’s all for the betterment of the car. The engine ‘auto stops’ for any long period of stationery time, while the car is in operation to conserve power and cut emissions.

It’s just another way the Honda Insight VTi was working for the environment and saving my petrol spend. Honda’s Insight also coaches you into driving better for the environment with an illuminative speedometer that tells you either how well or not-so-much you’re driving and how efficient you’re being, hence saving fuel, carbon emission and the environment.

Honda’s Hybrid is an attractive car. With sleek lines, nice metropolitan colouring – mine was black – and everything compact yet spacious enough to live comfortably in it if you were so inclined, the car has a lot going for it.

Complete with daytime running lamps, aqua blue tinted headlights and a funky split rear windscreen that enhances rear view – admittedly with an annoying partition between top and bottom halves – the car is a cinch to drive and so zippy it took a few days to acclimatise to.

The Honda has been made with an apprent fun edge and every creature comfort a driver could need at the touch of a button or within easy reach. With controls on the dashboard very easy to use and everything needed built in to the steering wheel, including a Bluetooth-synced hands-free phone extension, the car made my motoring life a dream.

The dream continued throughout every other little bit of the vehicle too with such improvements on the run-of-the-mill car such as massive windscreen wipers that worked a treat – handy for the long rural drive through country Victoria and New South Wales, ergonomically designed seating and additions to the car that worked harmoniously with the shape and posture of my body while driving and rear parking sensors, which make the dreaded reverse park a hell of a lot easier.

Honda Insight VTi; you complete(d) me.

Some winning facts about the Honda Insight VTi

– Fuel efficient: efficiency improved by 6.5 per cent meaning it now sips away at 4.3 litres per 100 kilometers, resulting in a 5.5 per cent reduction on CO2 emissions (now only 103 grams per kilometer)

– Sleekness: the car’s streamline design and aerodynamic enhancements mean everything about the Honda Insight contribute to an improved fuel consumption and lower carbon dioxide emissions

– Specifications (for those car geeks out there):

  • incline 4 cylinder engine
  • 1339 cc (capacity)
  • maximum power in a petrol engine is 65kW @ 5800rpm
  • Advanced Compatibiliy Engineering (ACE) body design
  • Length: 4405mm
  • Width: 1695mm
  • Height: 1425mm
  • Wheel size: 15x6J alloy wheels
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