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With a Honda Insight in my garage, I had to chuckle the other day when I read a story in a major national newspaper about how the first two gasoline-electric hybrids, the Insight and Toyota Prius, are now trendy must-haves for the rich and famous—and not just for Ed Begley, Jr. Yes, suddenly these little high-tech econoboxes are on the hot list for actors, rock stars, and politicians who want to show that they care about the Earth.
But do you think, public appearances aside, these image-means-everything celebrities will not actually eschew their Insights for the Diablo or Maranello, the ML55 or Escalade, waiting in the garage? Not as likely as you might think. The Insight is a sprightly little lean urban warrior that’s fun to drive and returns more than 50 miles per gallon in spirited motoring.
At first glance, the Insight looks sporty yet peculiar. A low, aerodynamic front end leads to a steeply raked windshield and a gradually sloping roofline that ends in a tall, stubby rear end. Rear wheel covers and low bodywork that hangs around the back end add an odd styling element. A second rear window through the end of the hatch, like the old CRX (and the new Pontiac Aztek), helps with visibility.
A passenger thought that the Insight was a new derivative of the old CRX, which can be understood because the two cars are very close in shape and dimensions, although the hybrid has no similarities with the CRX or del Sol. Compared to the CRX HF (high fuel economy) model of a decade ago (which, at 49/52 city/highway, was also one of the most miserly cars of its time), the Insight is 6.5 inches longer and 800 pounds lighter, plus it has more than ten extra horsepower than that vehicle.Sporty inside