Last week, we spent our time in Detroit running around in a Mercury Mariner hybrid, a small SUV that's the twin sister of the Ford Escape Hybrid. From the perspective of the driver, and for those who've driven a hybrid car, it behaved very similarly to a Toyota Prius. That means it tended to start up and move off on electric power only, and would shut down the gasoline engine on a part/trailing throttle whenever it can, at speeds of up to about 35mph. It achieved an average of 29mpg (US), but to say that we didn't exactly fall in love with it is something of an understatement.
It makes for an interesting comparison, as we've come back to the UK and jumped straight into Honda's new Insight hybrid. The Insight's a much simpler kind of hybrid compared to the Mariner/Prius, but it's nonetheless a hugely important car. Not only will it become the cheapest hybrid drivetrain car you can buy in many markets, but it revives the Insight name, which was first used by Honda in 1999 on it's groundbreaking first ever hybrid car.
It also, as many commentators have pointed out, bears a passing resemblance to the ubiquitous Prius. Yesterday, we got the chance to talk to John Kingston - Honda UK's Government affairs and environment manager, about the Insight, hybrids and Honda's future plans in more depth. You'll be able to see that interview on here soon. But for now, you can check out our first impressions and 'road test' of the Insight in the video below:
Posted by Joseph Simpson on 29th April 2009
Full disclosure: Honda UK has loaned us the Insight for one week, free of charge.