Honda and Toyota pioneered the hybrid-powertrain business in the U.S. market, with the Insight two-seater and the original Prius sedan. Both debuted at the turn of the 21st century. Honda halted production of the original Insight after the 2006 model year, and Toyota's midsize Prius is now entering its third generation as a 2010 model.
Also for 2010, Honda has revived the Insight nameplate, but on a completely different type of hybrid-powertrain vehicle. This time, it's a five-passenger compact hatchback. Honda also continues to offer the Civic Hybrid compact sedan (with a trunk).Billed as the "affordable" hybrid, the Insight hybrid hatchback aims to attract a new breed of battery/gas buyer. In mid-2008, as gasoline prices skyrocketed, hybrids suddenly became highly prized—and highly priced. As gas prices eased back down, the bloom slid rapidly off the hybrid rose, and sales began to tumble.
Honda advises that some design elements were carried over from the original Insight hybrid, particularly in the side profile, while the front-end relates to the company's FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle. Built on a 100.4-inch wheelbase, the Insight weighs 2,723 pounds. Five occupants fit inside, along with 15.9 cubic feet of cargo. Fold-down 60/40-split rear seats provide a configurable seating and cargo area.
In the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, Honda's 1.3-liter i-VTEC (intelligent variable valve timing) four-cylinder gasoline engine produces 98 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. Powered by nickel-metal-hydride batteries that deliver 100.8 volts, the electric motor/generator is rated at 13 horsepower and 10 kilowatts. Every Insight has a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and rolls on 15-inch tires. EX models have paddle shifters at the steering wheel.
While accelerating and in certain cruising situations, the electric motor adds power to the gas engine's output. To boost mileage, the IMA system also provides cylinder deactivation while decelerating, and an idle-stop feature when the car is stationary. An Ecological Drive Assist System, dubbed Eco Assist, can optimize vehicle operation in accord with driving conditions, and also provide feedback related to the individual driver's style. Pushing the dashboard ECON button enhances throttle control, CVT operation, idle-stop duration, and air-conditioner operation–all to extract the most distance from every drop of fuel.
© Source: automedia
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