• Oct 2nd 2008 at 4:53AM
  • 40
Click above for a high-res gallery of the Honda Insight

The Honda Insight concept took a hushed bow under the lights of Paris today. It's Prius-esque, but in person the car is less evocative of its Toyota challenger. The Insight's width and rather low height give it a substantial presence, and there's a bit of attitude out back with the hatch sliding into a flick of a tail. We imagine some of the more complex elements, such as the headlights reminiscent of shards from Superman's home planet of Krypton, will not make it to production. We hope the interior, however, is left untouched -- it is just the right blend of tech and common currency. The production version will be introduced to the public at the Detroit Auto Show in January and pricing is rumored to be just under $19,000 when it goes on sale. In the mean time, enjoy the gallery of high-res photos below, and check out the press release after the jump.



Honda has always intended Hybrid vehicles to be a bridge to a hydrogen powered future, the potential of which has already been demonstrated by the FCX Clarity. The Insight Concept has clear stylistic links to the world's first production fuel cell car, with both vehicles' forms shaped to maximise the efficiency of their respective drivetrains.

The Insight Concept is the stylistic inspiration for the production version which will go on sale in 2009. From this unique position in the marketplace, Insight will open hybrid technology to a new generation of customers.

The 1.3 litre Insight is powered by Honda's acclaimed IMA system, which has been extensively modified to reduce its cost and weight. With careful engineering of key components and refinement of manufacturing processes, the cost of the hybrid system has been significantly reduced. This ensures that Insight can be sold at a very competitive price without compromising ability, quality, environmental performance or profitability.

The Insight will benefit from a significant cost reduction in Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) components resulting in the most affordable hybrid vehicle to date. This dedicated hybrid vehicle will be offered as a 5-door hatchback with seating for five passengers and built on a newly developed platform. Engineers have mounted the compact control unit and battery beneath the boot space to give the Insight both a low centre of gravity and the practicality of a conventionally powered hatchback.

This reduction in cost has not been brought about by compromising the quality of the Insight, instead the Japanese manufacturer has tasked its engineers with finding more intelligent cost reduction solutions.

Insight will utilise various technologies, including a function to assist more fuel efficient driving giving customers a further improvement in real world fuel consumption. Along with the Civic Hybrid, the new vehicle will be produced at Honda's Suzuka factory in Japan which recently has expanded hybrid motor production line.

CO2 emissions and fuel economy are targeted to be at a similar level to the existing Civic Hybrid, giving drivers a flexible and highly practical lower environmental impact car. At its expected price point, Insight will have a unique combination of passenger space, luggage capacity, emissions and economy.

"The original Honda Insight launched in 1999 was the pioneer of hybrid technology in Europe and remains an iconic symbol of Honda's environmental innovation," said Takeo Fukui, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. CEO. "This new Insight will also break new ground by providing an affordable hybrid to an expanded number of customers craving great fuel economy and great value."

The Insight will form the first part of Honda's new hybrid strategy, which will see a further dedicated hybrid model, derived from the CR-Z show car and a hybrid version of the Jazz. The strategy will make hybrids both more accessible and more appealing to a range of customer types.

The Insight Concept is the culmination of two decades of hybrid petrol electric hybrid research and development. The Insight production vehicle will go on sale in Europe, Japan and North America during the first half of 2009.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I thought that the Insight was just using the Prius-style teardrop shape for aerodynamics and considered any comments calling it a Prius-clone unfair given that the only available picture was of the front-3/4, but after seeing the entire car:
      I'll reserve final judgment until after seeing it in the flesh, but I think Honda has taken TOO much of the Prius's design (vertical taillights), tinted glass trunk (below rear windshield), etc.
      I will say that it does the Prius design better than the Prius.
      Hopefully it will get better fuel economy and have better driving dynamics than the Prius.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's like sitting in the SS-Enterprise. Holy crap...

      I will say, the car looks better in the live shots than the studio shots though.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Sorry Trekkies, meant USS Enterprise. lol
      • 7 Years Ago
      Prinda. Prius meets Honda. Its what the Prius could look like to not be so ugly, but it still looks enough like a Prius to be called ugly. Waiting to see how this and the Volt looks in person.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Prius UGLY? You need to be forced to drive UGLY. A late model Pontiac Astek, a current Chrysler Sebring (take your pick... sedan or convertible) a Jeep Compass, a first gen Honda Element with those hideous dark gray molded in plastic body panels.

        Those cars are UGLY... the Prius is just a bland, but effective shape that has been proved out in the wind tunnel. That's why Honda & the Voly have the same general shape (its just hidden better in the Volt).

        The front end of the Insight has some nice Honda design ques & at $19K it will kill the Volt on (proposed) MSRP.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Sounds about right.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Those side mirrors look a wee bit small. Regardless of the fact that the back of the car looks a lot like the Prius, if it's a few grand less than the Prius and achieves similar MPG, it'll be a huge hit. I'm not a big fan of the front end, but I like considerably more than I do the Prius front end.

      If it can deliver better than 40 MPG for less than $19K, then they may get some of the people who are waiting for GM to release the Chevy Cruze.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The back looks like a Prius? Look closer and then look at the original Insight.

        And I think to be a hit this needs to get over 50MPG.
      • 7 Years Ago
      a prius with a meth problem.

      Regardless, build it because it's good for the industry
      • 7 Years Ago
      How goofy is it going to look once they fit it with 15" wheels? They're going to have to scale the wheel wells way down or they'll have huge gaps....
      • 7 Years Ago
      just another reason the arabs will be eating sand in a few years...thanks, honda
      • 7 Years Ago
      That interior looks awesome, and pretty feasible too. Honda should keep that. It won't be enough to convince me to get a hybrid personally, but compared to its competition, it's a winner.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Scratch that, interior looks good other than the two-tier gauges. I hate that; Honda needs to go back to the traditional gauge cluster. Then it's a winner.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It looks Prius-like because that general shape is necessary for the very low drag coefficient that helps mileage. If you read the article about Toyota's aerodynamic efficiency research in this week's Automotive News, you'll see what I mean. Pity that it's going to become ubiquitous, but it's instantly apparent that this is a hybrid, and lots of people care about that.

      Is anyone else growing slightly sick of this "Gaping Maw" front-end design element? First Peugeot, then Mitsubishi, then the GT-R, now Honda. Do people WANT their cars to look like angler fish?

      • 7 Years Ago
      Under $20K for that? You bet I'll be lining up for one!
        • 7 Years Ago
        If they can bring this to market for under $20K, they'll sell 10 million.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Rootus: Have you considered the Jetta TDI?

        On the other hand, if the Insight is at least as fun to drive as the Fit, it will still be miles ahead of the Prius.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I hate to say it, but if it comes in under $20K I could see myself considering it as a daily driver. I dislike current hybrids because their capital cost is so much higher than a competing non-hybrid that it's clearly an image thing. Gimme a hybrid that I actually have a prayer of seeing positive ROI on in less than 5 years and it's much more appealing.

        ... but I'd keep my STI for when I wanted to actually have FUN driving. The killer hybrid is yet to arrive -- the one that gets good mileage when I need it to, but is a blast to fling through the twisties.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just give it the same size wheels all around then it is ok. Looks silly with the mini-me rears.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I'm pretty certain that they are the same size on all four.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Haha, yeah it's called "perspective".
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hmm, rear hatch cargo area looks small, not to mention legroom for rear passengers.

      It's interesting that the Honda's designers have retained the original Insight's styling cues for the rear of the car.

      Now I have to see what Toyota has to offer for their Prius refresh.

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