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Thread: Jeremy Clarkson reviews the Honda Insight

  1. #1
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    Jeremy Clarkson reviews the Honda Insight

    JC's review of the Insight, designed using sketches of a Prius and several sheets of tracing paper.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Clarkson
    Much has been written about the Insight, Hondaís new low-priced hybrid. Weíve been told how much carbon dioxide it produces, how its dashboard encourages frugal driving by glowing green when youíre easy on the throttle and how it is the dawn of all things. The beginning of days.

    So far, though, you have not been told what itís like as a car; as a tool for moving you, your friends and your things from place to place.

    So here goes. Itís terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. Itís the first car Iíve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didnít have to drive it any more.

    The biggest problem, and itís taken me a while to work this out, because all the other problems are so vast and so cancerous, is the gearbox. For reasons known only to itself, Honda has fitted the Insight with something called constantly variable transmission (CVT).


    It doesnít work. Put your foot down in a normal car and the revs climb in tandem with the speed. In a CVT car, the revs spool up quickly and then the speed rises to match them. It feels like the clutch is slipping. It feels horrid.

    And the sound is worse. The Hondaís petrol engine is a much-shaved, built-for-economy, low-friction 1.3 that, at full chat, makes a noise worse than someone elseís crying baby on an airliner. Itís worse than the sound of your parachute failing to open. Really, to get an idea of how awful it is, youíd have to sit a dog on a ham slicer.

    So youíre sitting there with the engine screaming its head off, and your ears bleeding, and youíre doing only 23mph because thatís about the top speed, and youíre thinking things canít get any worse, and then they do because you run over a small piece of grit.

    Because the Honda has two motors, one that runs on petrol and one that runs on batteries, it is more expensive to make than a car that has one. But since the whole point of this car is that it could be sold for less than Toyotaís Smugmobile, the engineers have plainly peeled the suspension components to the bone. The result is a ride that beggars belief.

    Thereís more. Normally, Hondas feel as though they have been screwed together by eye surgeons. This one, however, feels as if itís been made from steel so thin, you could read through it. And the seats, finished in pleblon, are designed specifically, it seems, to ruin your skeleton. This is hairy-shirted eco-ism at its very worst.

    However, as a result of all this, prices start at £15,490 ó thatís £3,000 or so less than the cost of the Prius. But at least with the Toyota there is no indication that youíre driving a car with two motors. In the Insight you are constantly reminded, not only by the idiotic dashboard, which shows leaves growing on a tree when you ease off the throttle (pass the sick bucket), but by the noise and the ride and the seats. And also by the hybrid system Honda has fitted.

    In a Prius the electric motor can, though almost never does, power the car on its own. In the Honda the electric motor is designed to ďassistĒ the petrol engine, providing more get-up-and-go when the need arises. The net result is this: in a Prius the transformation from electricity to petrol is subtle. In the Honda there are all sorts of jerks and clunks.

    And for what? For sure, you could get 60 or more mpg if you were careful. And thatís not bad for a spacious five-door hatchback. But for the same moneyyou could have a Golf diesel, which

    will be even more economical. And hasnít been built out of rice paper to keep costs down.

    Of course, I am well aware that there are a great many people in the world who believe that the burning of fossil fuels will one day kill all the Dutch and that something must be done.

    They will see the poor ride, the woeful performance, the awful noise and the spine-bending seats as a price worth paying. But what about the eco-cost of building the car in the first place?


    Honda has produced a graph that seems to suggest that making the Insight is only marginally more energy-hungry than making a normal car. And that the slight difference is more than negated by the resultant fuel savings.

    Hmmm. I would not accuse Honda of telling porkies. That would be foolish. But I cannot see how making a car with two motors costs the same in terms of resources as making a car with one.

    The nickel for the battery has to come from somewhere. Canada, usually. It has to be shipped to Japan, not on a sailing boat, I presume. And then it must be converted, not in a tree house, into a battery, and then that battery must be transported, not on an ox cart, to the Insight production plant in Suzuka. And then the finished car has to be shipped, not by Thor Heyerdahl, to Britain, where it can be transported, not by wind, to the home of a man with a beard who thinks heís doing the world a favour.

    Why doesnít he just buy a Range Rover, which is made from local components, just down the road? No, really ó weird-beards buy locally produced meat and vegetables for eco-reasons. So why not apply the same logic to cars?

    At this point you will probably dismiss what Iím saying as the rantings of a petrolhead, and think that I have my head in the sand.

    Thatís not true. While I have yet to be convinced that manís 3% contribution to the planetís greenhouse gases affects the climate, I do recognise that oil is a finite resource and that as it becomes more scarce, the political ramifications could well be dire. I therefore absolutely accept the urgent need for alternative fuels.

    But let me be clear that hybrid cars are designed solely to milk the guilt genes of the smug and the foolish. And that pure electric cars, such as the G-Wiz and the Tesla, donít work at all because they are just too inconvenient.

    Since about 1917 the car industry has not had a technological revolution ó unlike, say, the world of communications or film. There has never been a 3G moment at Peugeot nor a need to embrace DVD at Nissan. There has been no VHS/Betamax battle between Fiat and Renault.Car makers, then, have had nearly a century to develop and hone the principles of suck, squeeze, bang, blow. And they have become very good at it.

    But now comes the need to throw away the heart of the beast, the internal combustion engine, and start again. And, critically, the first of the new cars with their new power systems must be better than the last of the old ones. Or no one will buy them. Thatís a tall order. Thatís like dragging Didier Drogba onto a cricket pitch and expecting him to be better than Ian Botham.

    And hereís the kicker. Thatís exactly what Honda has done with its other eco-car, the Clarity. Instead of using a petrol engine to charge up the electric motorís batteries, as happens on the Insight, the Clarity uses hydrogen: the most abundant gas in the universe.

    The only waste product is water. The car feels like a car. And, best of all, the power it produces is so enormous, it can be used by day to get you to 120mph and by night to run all the electrical appliances in your house. This is not science fiction. There is a fleet of Claritys running around California right now.


    There are problems to be overcome. Making hydrogen is a fuel-hungry process, and there is no infrastructure. But Alexander Fleming didnít look at his mould and think, ďOh dear, no one will put that in their mouthĒ, and give up.

    I would have hoped, therefore, that Honda had diverted every penny it had into making hydrogen work rather than stopping off on the way to make a half-arsed halfway house for fools and madmen.

    The only hope I have is that there are enough fools and madmen out there who will buy an Insight to look sanctimonious outside the school gates. And that the cash this generates can be used to develop something a bit more constructive.

    The Clarksometer

    Honda Insight 1.3 IMA SE Hybrid

    Engine 1399cc, four cylinders

    Power 87bhp@5800rpm

    Torque 89 lb ft @ 4500rpm

    Transmission CVT

    Fuel 64.2mpg (combined)

    CO2 101g/km

    Acceleration 0-62mph: 12.5sec

    Top speed 113mph

    Price £15,490

    Road tax band B (£15 a year)

    Clarkson's verdict

    1 star

    Good only for parting the smug from their money
    He came dancing across the water
    With his galleons and guns
    Looking for the new world
    In that palace in the sun
    On the shore lay Montezuma
    With his cocoa leaves and pearls

  2. #2
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    Jeremy Clarkson is not credible at all really so I don't give credence to any of his reviews.

  3. #3
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    no hes not credible but he does raise a few good points, albeit ones that have been raised before
    -Fundamentals are a crutch for the talentless.

    -I thought the blacks in Baltimore were bad, shit, theyíre nothing compared to these fags you got here in San FranciscoÖhaha.

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  4. #4
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    So he's driving an eco-box around flat-chat and doesn't like that it's a pile of arse when driven like that? Stick to the supercars Jezza, you stupid twat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2ndclasscitizen View Post
    So he's driving an eco-box around flat-chat and doesn't like that it's a pile of arse when driven like that? Stick to the supercars Jezza, you stupid twat.
    His persona is that of an obnoxious prick and he gets paid for that. If he actually is like that or not remains to be seen for the most of us.

    I seem to recall reading a review of the Insight in Road and Track and I recall it being quite favourable actually.

  6. #6
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    I like Clarkson but he's definitely biased against a lot of cars, namely eco-friendly cars (hybrids and electrics) and American cars. Likewise, he will love just about any British car even if it's ugly, overpriced, and literally falling apart (See his Top Gear review of the MG SV). He's entertaining but sometimes he should just be ignored.

  7. #7
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    I read last week that the ahem 'current' top selling car in Japan is .. Honda Insight

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    Yes he is very biased towards eco-friendly cars, but even more so against cheap cars. I have noticed that he really likes quality in cars and to be fair, if you are paying under say like $15,000USD for a car it's hard to find quality. He admits that the Prius is a quality car, so all he is saying is that if Honda had taken the time to make the Insight of higher quality it would be a better car. But then it wouldn't cost £15,000

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    Quote Originally Posted by nota View Post
    I read last week that the ahem 'current' top selling car in Japan is .. Honda Insight
    So is that actually a plus or a minus point...?
    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
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  10. #10
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    this is the nation that has previously awarded the FTO as car of the year...
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  11. #11
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    Funny that he introduces the CVT as the main fault of this Honda. It has been applied before, so did JC utter the same noises then?
    "I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting, but it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously." Douglas Adams

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    If I remember correctly he actually enjoys crashing cars against trees/obstacle on purpose.

    His lines are so full of hyperboles and false sentences just to raise some hype, it's basically pointless to even read/listen what he says.

    I tried to read a couple of issues of Top Gear Magazine...horrible, seriously. Not that there are some good maga<ines out there at the moment, but as a new one here (out since a year or so) I was expecting something more and better.

    I'm out everything TG related since so much time, I'm tired to hear about it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitdy View Post
    Jeremy Clarkson is not credible at all really so I don't give credence to any of his reviews.
    That's very unfortunate. You may not agree with what he says but he can certainly bring up interesting points that can refine your own opinion. People shouldn't take anything that is written down as scripture; this has caused too many wars already.
    If you should see a man walking down a crowded street talking aloud to himself, don't run in the opposite direction, but run towards him, because he's a poet. You have nothing to fear from the poet - but the truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wouter Melissen View Post
    That's very unfortunate. You may not agree with what he says but he can certainly bring up interesting points that can refine your own opinion. People shouldn't take anything that is written down as scripture; this has caused too many wars already.
    I agree, still the way he expresses himself is a bit too over the line.
    KFL Racing Enterprises - Kicking your ass since 2008

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  15. #15
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    Clarkson is the proverbial hyperbole. Treat him as such.
    "I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting, but it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously." Douglas Adams

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