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Both the CR-Z hybrid coupe (in the pic) and the Honda Insight hybrid will be withdrawn from Europe at the end of the year as Honda concentrates on diesels and small hi-tech petrol engines

I’VE been assessing one of these: a Honda Insight 1.3 i-VTEC IMA Hybrid CVT HS to give its full handle.

And what a curate’s egg it is.

The Honda Insight, once hi-tech, now feels rather dated.

Honda_Insight_Concept
The Insight concept was first seen at the Paris Motor Show in 2008

The car never really lived up to its pre-launch hype: sitting low on its big alloys at the Paris Show and with attractive talk  of prices.

In reality when the Insight launched, the car looked too narrow, the spec wasn’t right for businesses and the suspension was rock hard.

Such criticisms have now been ironed out (although it still looks too narrow), but it seemed like a big chance lost to me.

And now the Insight is driving off into the sunset as Honda calls time on its love affair with hybrids in Europe: for now diesel is where Honda is concentrating its small fleet firepower – and with that brilliant 1.6 diesel in both the Honda Civic and Honda CR-V you can begin to understand why.

So both the Insight and CR-Z coupe will be exiting stage left come the end of the year, leaving the Jazz as the sole Honda hybrid representative on the books. 

“The focus for Honda in Europe is firmly on diesel,” Honda’s Rebecca Stead told me. “We’ll also be introducing some small hi-tech petrol engines too, including a 1.0-litre turbo unit. And while I can’t say Honda won’t be returning to the hybrid in the UK it’s certainly not for the forseeable future.”

Honda_Insight
The Honda Insight retains its charm, but the new 1.6 diesel is where Honda is concentrating its small fleet firepower

You can’t argue with the logic. But the Insight retains a real charm that belies its many faults. I like the relaxed nature of its progress, the quietness of its petrol engine, the wow factor of its fuel consumption and CO2 emissions when it was first introduced – all of these are great plus points. And I still like it.

But there’s no question Honda has made the right decision.

Charm is all very well . But it’s not hard-headed enough in the business car world.

Click here for Ralph’s review of the Honda Insight Hybrid.


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