The Honda Insight is an affordable hybrid option for most households.
The Honda Insight is an affordable hybrid option for most households. Contributed

Hybrid cars within buyers' reach

PRACTISING what we preach is apparently too big a task for most Aussies.

While we're embracing the ideals of reducing our carbon footprint through recycling, harnessing natural energy and other ideals to support a sustainable future, it doesn't translate when buying a car.

Nope, it seems going green just isn't on the four-wheel agenda.

Market researchers Synovate found while hybrids and electric vehicles are at the forefront of car makers' minds, buyers are yet to be convinced.

A study found buyers have intensions of buying conventional petrol and turbo-diesels in the near future while interest in the greener models has declined.

Those who still need convincing about hybrids should take the Honda Insight for a spin.

For about 30 grand you can get into a hatchback, which combines electric and petrol engines. Going this green has never been cheaper.

For a long time Toyota's Prius has been alone in this genre, and while there are now a number of thrifty turbo-diesels that get close to the Prius in terms of fuel consumption, the Insight is really the first hybrid within financial reach of most buyers.

It's in the top-five greenest cars available in Australia, and comes with a five-star rating for environmental friendliness.

With Australians now facing a tax on carbon, the Insight is well placed for those looking to boost their green credentials.

Comfort

Given the price tag, it's probably not surprising that the interior finishes are on the budget side in the VTi.

Hard plastics adorn the dash, console and doors. The seats too are a little flat and would need a decent set of covers to improve comfort and avoid material deterioration.

It is a modern looking cabin with a groovy design, dominated by a large digital speedo, which sits in its own binnacle above the 3D tacho, and a green gauge that shows you when the car is charging the batteries and when it's using electric assistance. It's similar to the Civic set-up.

There is also impressive space for a small hatch.

Head and leg room is excellent for a car in this genre and two adults would have no issues finding enough freedom on a long journey in the back.

In prestigious Beverly Hills, the Prius is a statement. Cruise the salubrious suburb and the Toyota hybrid is as common as Beemers and Benzs.

Given the pressure to go green Down Under, the Insight puts environmentally friendly motoring within reach of average Aussies.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Honda Insight VTi.

Details: Five-door front-wheel drive compact hybrid hatch.

Engine: 1.3-litre in-line four-cylinder SOHC i-VTEC with Integrated Motor Assist generating maximum power of 72kW @ 5800 rpm and peak torque of 167Nm @ 1000-1700 rpm.

Transmission: Continuously variable with steering wheel mounted paddle shifts.

Performance: 0-100kmh; top speed.

Consumption: 4.6 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 109g/km.

Bottom line: $29,990.



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