When the Honda Insight was launched in the UK it was the most affordable hybrid available (£15,490). Although it was the best selling hybrid in its first month, hybrids in general were not big sellers. They were a new concept and an expensive option compared to regular petrol cars. Back then, hybrids only made sense to those doing excessive amounts of mileage. Was it worth spending £5,000 more on a car to save petrol? Not for most people. The Insight’s quirky looks didn’t appeal to the masses either – only curious early-adopters who wanted something different were brave enough to buy one. It was taken off the UK market less than a year later and has been largely forgotten – until now…

Original promotional film


From the brochure (USA)

“And now for something completely different. The remarkable new Honda Insight – the first production gasoline-electric hybrid automobile sold in America. It’s fun to drive, incredibly efficient – it can go to 70 miles on a gallon of gas – so clean it’s certified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) and there’s no need to plug it in. It also has something you won’t find anywhere else – Honda quality.

The Honda Insight is a gasoline-electric hybrid automobile, powered by the revolutionary new Honda-designed Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system. The IMA system uses a 1.0 liter VTEC-E engine assisted by a compact electric motor and advanced nickel-metal hydride batteries. When combined with its lightweight aluminium body and highly aerodynamic design, this super-efficient new technology gives the innovative Insight the performance of an automobile with a larger engine, yet it gets an astonishing 61 miles per gallon in the city and 70 miles per gallon on the highway.

Whether it’s urban commuting or highway cruising, the Insight combines practicality, comfort and style in a whole new way. Storage bins and pockets are numerous, including a convenient driver’s storage compartment, two beverage holders and a large glove compartment. A rear-center net pocket holds odd-sized items, and in back the cargo area is easily accessible through a large rear hatch. There’s even a convenient hidden storage well under the cargo area floor that lets you keep your valuables out of sight.

Under the Insight’s aerodynamic body is one of the world’s most advanced automotive propulsion systems – a combination lean-burn gasoline engine and a high-efficient electric motor.

The Honda Insight owes its incredible fuel efficiency to a combination of advanced automotive technologies, including its lightweight aluminum and plastic body, a highly aerodynamic shape, all-season, low-rolling-resistance tires, and its innovative IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system. This system combines the best characteristics of two Honda-developed propulsion technologies; a clean-running, highly efficient, 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder, 12-valve, Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) gasoline engine, and a powerful ultra-compact electric motor. The gasoline engine is the primary means of propulsion. It uses lean-burn VTEC-E (variable valve timing and lift electronic control) technology to achieve its high fuel efficiency, without sacrificing driveability.


When additional power is needed, for example during acceleration, the electric motor assists, producing a total of 73 hp and giving the Insight the performance of an automobile with a larger engine. Electricity to power the motor comes from a set of advanced nickel-metal hydride batteries, which are recharged by regenerative braking.


Perhaps the greatest advantage of the Insight’s unique IMA system is that its operation is completely seamless and transparent – you just fill it with regular unleaded gasoline and drive it like any other car. And you never have to plug it in.

The Insight’s roomy, high-tech interior is designed around the driver’s needs. The high-back bucket seats are comfortable and supportive, the controls are easily accessible and operate with the precision typical of a Honda, and its sophisticated Electronic Instrument Display is logically arranged and easy to read.

It’s also a very personal space. A comfortable place to spend some time. Attractive and well-equipped. Standard equipment includes electric power steering (EPS) with variable-assist, anti-lock brakes (ABS), and power windows, mirrors and door locks with remote entry. Even an AM/FM stereo cassette with clock. And automatic air conditioning with a micron air-filtration system is available.

The Insight’s safety engineering is quite extensive. Its aluminum body and frame, which incorporate front and rear crumple zones, help protect the occupants in impacts such as full-frontal, offset-frontal, side and rear. Dual front airbags, 3-point seat belts and built-in head restraints are all standard equipment.

As you can see, the Honda Insight really is different. It’s smarter. A car that takes care of your needs takes care of the environment’s. The kind of car you’d expect from Honda.

Crumple zones built into the Insight’s highly rigid aluminum body are designed to help protect the driver and passenger in an impact.

The Insight’s Electronic Instrument Display is logical and easy to read: on the left is engine status information, such as rpm and engine coolant temperature.

The middle of the Electronic Instrument Display provides a wealth of information, including present speed, the distance the car has traveled, and both current and cumulative fuel economy.

Fuel supply and electrical energy capacity, including state-of-charge, are displayed on the right side of the Electronic Instrument Display.