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2010 Honda Insight - Click above for high-res image gallery

One oft-heard criticism of the latest Honda Insight hybrid hatchback is that it looks too much like its chief rival from Toyota, the Prius. We certainly don't have any difficulty picking one out from the other, but it's clear the two cars share a similar general shape due to the desire to minimize wind resistance.

Says Nobuki Ebisawa, managing director at Honda R&D Co, "We don't think it looks like the Prius at all... There may be some similarities in the roof line, but it is clearly different." Ebisawa further points out that the Insight shares its basic shape with the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell car, which is true. It's also easy to see a clear relationship with past Honda vehicles like the old CRX.

Both the Honda Insight and the third-generation Toyota Prius are selling at a good clip in their home market of Japan, but the Prius holds a clear advantage over its competitor. Here in the States, the Insight is failing to live up to sales expectations while the Prius has proven to be a bright spot for Toyota.



[Source: The Bulletin]


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  • 21 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      While its clear that they are trying to establish a hybrid "style" like all the ugly monotonous sedan designs that have plagued us each decade since the 70's, you have to wonder why the hell they thought digging themselves deeper in the hole of super-ugliness was worth more than making a good looking hybrid. The worst thing about the Prius has always been its looks and is a reason a lot of people dont get one, it is NOT something companies should be trying to imitate.

      Why is making all cars in a certain category look the same such an obsession with Japanese and American car companies? The Europeans dont pull that crap.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think Honda needs to stop worrying about the Insight so they can focus on not screwing up the CR-Z.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if Nobuki were presented with pictures that outline the shape of the Prius and the Insight, if he could tell them apart.
      • 5 Years Ago
      C'mon, people. The Insight and the Prius share this profile because it's an aerodynamic shape. Take a look at a side-view of the Volt and you'll see a distinctly similar shape, though GM tried to give a coupe feel to the Volt. The Honda Civic sedan has a profile that's not all that different, which explains its low drag coefficient.

      If you want to maximize energy efficiency in a vehicle, your first priority should be aerodynamics. If you don't begin with an aerodynamic shape, you're going to have to use more energy to move the car with the same performance by necessity. Aerodynamics combined with a need for practical functionality tend to push you toward a certain shape, as exemplified by the four models I mentioned. I was disappointed to see that Nissan chose a more conventional hatchback shape for the Leaf. Apparently, they were so determined to visually distinguish it from the iconic Prius shape that they were willing to sacrifice the aerodynamic benefits of said shape. I'll be interested to learn how its drag coefficient compares to the Prius at 0.25.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not to harp on this topic too much but, I found this list of production car drag coefficients interesting. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile_drag_coefficient )

        The production car list includes a "normal" looking 2009 Mercedes E-class coupe ( http://www.auto123.com/ArtImages/104506/Eclass_coupe_jan09_priddy_04.jpg)

        and 1935 Tatra T77 ( http://www2.uol.com.br/bestcars/carros/classicos/tatra-t77-2.jpg)Both getting slightly better results than either of our topic cars. Not too bad.

        I think they have only started to find slipperier shapes for cars.

        • 5 Years Ago
        The EV1's drag coefficient of 0.19 was the lowest of any production automobile in history...

        And it doesn't look like a Prius.

        Honda was being unadventurous in its design and mimicking the competition.
        • 5 Years Ago
        mikew:

        You're forgetting that it's not enough for a vehicle to be aerodynamic, which the EV1 and the Aptera certainly are. As I noted, it also has to be functional, and the EV1 seated only 2 people and had very limited capacity to haul luggage. Consequently, it's hardly fair to compare it to the Prius, which seats 5 and has ample luggage capacity for a family's typical needs. Americans don't much like the look of wheelskirts, either.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're telling me you don't see any similarity between the profile of the E-Class and the Prius/Insight/Volt? While it looks somewhat like a more traditional car, the long, sloping rear greenhouse and the short, rear-sloping decklid achieve a similar effect to the rear-ends on the other cars. I'm guessing Mercedes put in a lot of effort to smooth out the underbody of the E-Class, too.

        As for the T77, well, it has some pretty radical design elements that would probably be very hard to sell to Americans given how much nasty criticism has been leveled at the unconventional Prius and Insight.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Some of the common design elements are aerodynamic considerations, but given the vast variety of designs in say the airplane industry, where aerodynamics are stressed even more than the car industry, I think the similarity is due to modern conventions. I think it is like the mid 50's Chevys looks similar to mid 50's Fords... or the early pony cars looking somewhat similar.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      mikew:

      Take a loot at this side-view of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe. Now, ignore the long, conventional nose and focus on the profile from the beginning of the windshield to the rear of the car. Sure looks similar to the Prius, Insight, and Volt profiles to me. All four are variations on what is called a Kammback tail.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Okay, so my hotlinks didn't work. Try this version:

      mikew:

      Take a look at this side-view ( http://www.autoblog.com/gallery/first-drive-2010-mercedes-benz-e-class-coupe/#5) of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe, which is shot from a lower angle than the one you linked to. Now, ignore the long, conventional nose and focus on the profile from the beginning of the windshield to the rear of the car. Sure looks similar to the profiles of the Prius, Insight, and Volt from the windshield back to me. All four are variations on what is called a Kammback tail ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kammback).
      JDM Life
      • 5 Years Ago
      LMAO


      it looks nothing like the pruis...right. And the sun is not bright....
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well, thank you for that. I wondered about the visual brain development of people who cannot tell two cars apart that are both fastbacks. To me the Honda is a lean and graceful, airy design, and the Prius is a clumsy looking toad of a car. Saying they look alike is like saying the Beatles and The Stones sounded alike because they are English rock and roll. Or from the same era people who were genuinely confused about the sexual identity of men with long hair.

      So for all those people who continue to say these two cars look alike, realize that there are lots of us out here scratching our heads and wondering what is wrong with your brain development and whether there are other things you are incapable of perceiving.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Really? Yes I can tell them apart but the two cars do look very similar. Sort of in the same way a Lexus ES and Camry look similar yet they are easily differentiated in broad daylight.

        Honestly the new Prius widens the gap but the 2nd Gen Prius and the new Insight have striking similarities.

        I don't think it is a bad thing but it is naive to not recognize the striking similarity.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think Nobuki has a fetish for door handles.

      The prius is clearly an illegitimate child of the CRX. (main difference being door handles)
      http://media.photobucket.com/image/CRX/ceelint/06crx.jpg
        • 5 Years Ago
        To take it further 2009 prius had the same engine size, and gas tank size as CRX.
      • 5 Years Ago
      When they're side by side, it's easy to tell them apart. Alone, though, it's tougher. I think I passed by a billboard for the Insight for a few weeks before I finally read the words on it and realized that it was NOT, in fact, a Prius ad.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This autoblog entry was sponsored by Honda Motor Company.
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