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Insight into hybrid myth; FIRST DRIVE Honda Insight.

Byline: By Val Jessop

SURVEYS have consistently shown that cost is the main reason given by motorists in refusing to consider a hybrid car.

Green vehicles tend to be more expensive and are perceived as top-end models, attracting an elitist tag.

But Honda is set to change all that with its latest global green machine for the masses, the Insight.

Not only does it promise competitive prices, it also dispels the myth hybrids produce more CO2 emissions in their lifetime than non-hybrid vehicles.

Honda say the Insight will produce two thirds the CO2 emissions of a non-hybrid car.

It also reckons it will be the cheapest hybrid car on the market.

Honda hints at a start price of around pounds 15,000 for the 1.4-litre petrol-electric car which makes it much cheaper than rival Toyota Prius, at just under pounds 18,000.

You can understand Honda's excitement with its world-wide hybrid hatchback which goes on sale in April.

It is a highly important car and promises to raise Honda's sales significantly, selling 8,000 Insights a year in the UK and 200,000 units worldwide.

In the next few years the company is to launch a sporty hybrid, based on the CR-Z, a Jazz hybrid, along with the Civic hybrid.

With all four hybrid cars, Honda expect to sell approximately 500,000 hybrids a year worldwide.

The entry level Insight SE model, with 15-inch alloys, climate control, electric folding door mirrors, front and rear electric windows and steering wheel audio controls, will make up around 35 per cent of sales - and is priced to appeal directly to mass market customers who may have been put off buying a hybrid previously on costs grounds.

But the best seller will be the impressively specced Insight ES which has auto lights and wipers, cruise control, front fogs, heated front seats, privacy glass and 16-inch alloys.

An ES-T model is further equipped with DVD satellite navigation and hands-free technology.

The ultra-green Insight also boasts incredible combined fuel returns of between 61.4mpg and 63.2mpg, though one colleague on a 14-mile "economy route", topped the 70mpg mark. I missed out on the exercise but hard-worked on the motorway, the Insight still managed a credible 49.3mpg.

However, economy figures depend greatly on the style of driving and Honda has gone to great lengths to educate and coach the motorist into driving more greenly.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 20, 2009
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