Transforming us all into eco-warriors

Honda Insight
Honda Insight

IT’S an interesting idea that a large part of the problem of harmful vehicle emissions could be solved not by incredible new propulsion technologies but by adjusting the attitudes of us, their drivers.

Instead of getting in and launching ourselves from point A to point B in the shortest time possible, what if we could install efficiency as our number one priority on a car journey?

Honda’s Insight is a car that tries to encourage just such a paradigm shift. Yes it’s a high-tech hybrid but the way it employs its technology also gives pause for thought.

The car has recently had its suspension tweaked for a more comfortable ride and benefitted from a smarter interior but the essential recipe remains the same. So can the Insight change the way we drive and if so, how’s it going to do it? The obvious answer is that with just 87bhp, a CVT automatic gearbox and a leisurely 0-60mph sprint of 12.5s, owners can attempt to drive as fast as they like but their efforts are likely to be thwarted.

Eventually, drivers should get the aggression out of their systems and settle into the Insight’s way of doing things.

The car doesn’t rely completely on sedating its drivers into an on-going battle of environmental one-upmanship against themselves. It also has Honda’s clever IMA petrol/electric drivetrain to fall back on. The engine is a 1.3-litre unit based on the one in the Civic Hybrid and featuring a series of neat innovations. During deceleration, the cylinders are closed off by the VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) system to boost efficiency and numerous modifications have been made to reduce friction inside the engine. So what’s the environmental upshot of all the Insight’s technology and environmental prompting? The car returns 64.2mpg on the combined cycle with emissions of 101g/km.

Honda’s Insight is a car that it seeks to modify the behaviour of its drivers - turning them into an army of chilled out eco-warriors in the process.