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NEW Honda Insight Hybrid

posted on Mar 03 2009 by Kyle McWilton

NEW Honda Insight Hybrid

The Honda Insight will be the least expensive hybrid car in Britain and is currently on offer on contract hire. It should also be one of the most economical hatchbacks you can buy, attracting no more than 15's worth of VED licence fee, exemption from London's congestion chargeand more to the point, providing the possibility of near-60mpg fuel consumption.

Honda has directed the bulk of its effort at reducing the cost of the Insight's hardware - some of it by as much as 40percent - in the quest for a lower price that will open hybrid motoring to many more buyers. The heart of what's different about this car lies in its propulsion system of course, the - rather small - 88bhp 1.3 litre petrol engine boosted by a 14bhp electric motor for an overall power output of 98bhp.

The electric motor performs multiple tasks that include doubling as a generator and starting the petrol engine, but most fundamental is that it uses the car's momentum, when it's coasting or braking, to recharge the battery pack that powers the electric motor. And it's the harvesting of this energy, which would otherwise be wasted, that enables the Insight to return better fuel consumption and lower Co2 emissions.

The electric motor boosts the engine's efforts when strong acceleration is required, allows it run on electric power alone when it's cruising at steady speeds (usually between 9 and 28mph but sometimes higher) and doubles as a super-smooth starter motor to fire up the petrol engine, which frequently switches off at idle to save fuel. If all this sounds complex, the net result is a car that promises fuel consumption of well over 50mpg, and potentially more than 60.

And since it runs on petrol, which is currently around 12p less than diesel, the savings are all the greater. Its multiple displays provide detail of your fuel consumption history, while another indicates the flows of energy within the car, rather like the Prius. The critical display features a horizontal bar that darts to the right if you accelerate firmly, and left the harder you brake. The aim is to keep the bar as narrow as possible through the gentle application of accelerator and brake. But the most unusual feature is a line of five trees, whose leaves and trunks disappear if you're reckless with your petrol, and sprout if you're good at saving it.

At times, it's easy to think that you're playing a Japanese computer game. For more information about pricing for Honda leasing, please go directly to our Honda car leasing page.