2008 Paris auto showEnlarge Photo
A week before the 2009 Honda Insight's unveiling at Detroit's North American International Auto Show, website Carscoop discovered that Honda of Belgium released details and pictures on the vehicle. And the specs reveal...the same powertrain as that found in the Civic Hybrid.
Huh? Yup, a 1.3-liter four-cylinder churning out 88 hp mated to a 13.6 hp electric motor. And power is still routed through a CVT to the front wheels. With so little electric power available, we wonder if an electric-only mode, which greatly decreases city gas consumption, will be a possibility on the new Insight (the current Civic Hybrid does not offer an electric-only mode at any speed).As to the 2009 Honda Insight's fuel economy, Carscoop extrapolates the European figure to arrive at a combined 53.5 mpg in U.S. terms. Unfortunately for Honda, that's about 1 mpg less efficient than the current Toyota Prius.
This begs the question: could Honda have created a clean-sheet design for its new Insight that would have significantly beat the Prius in the mileage game? The Insight hews closely to the Prius in terms of overall form and layout, being a four-door compact sedan with a hatchback.
Having had a look at the specs, Carscoop report that the Insight is a marginally smaller vehicle than the Prius. At this point the Insight/Prius competition seems to be a near tie. But even comparing the new Insight to the current Prius, the Honda would seem to be less efficient, presumably slower on acceleration (with less total power available), and has tidier dimensions. When the new 2010 Toyota Prius debuts, will Toyota's competitive edge only grow?
We'll have more on both cars soon--until then, don't miss the world debuts of both cars at the 2009 Detroit auto show and full coverage from our flagship site, TheCarConnection.com.--Colin Mathews