Well-rounded hy­brid

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Saltwire Wheels - BY LISA CALVI WHEELS

I couldn’t help but get goose­bumps last week when I heard “Touch­down con­firmed,” fol­lowed by the ex­u­ber­ant, emo­tional cheers from Mis­sion Con­trol at NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory as the tele­vi­sion screen broad­cast his­tory.

I, along with count­less other Earth­lings, watched as the Mars In­Sight Lan­der landed on Mars.

The In­Sight, short for In­te­rior Ex­plo­ration us­ing Seis­mic In­ves­ti­ga­tion Geodesy and Heat Trans­port, had trav­elled al­most 485 mil­lion kilo­me­tres.

Seven months of travel cul­mi­nated in what NASA calls seven min­utes of ter­ror as the In­Sight en­tered the at­mos­phere of Mars.

That’s the time it took for the In­Sight to de­crease its mas­sive speed of 19,975 km/h to a leisurely eight km/h be­fore gen­tly touch­ing down on our neigh­bour’s in­hos­pitable sur­face.

The eighth NASA mis­sion to land on Mars will stay for two years to study its ‘in­ner space,’ the deep struc­ture of the planet by dig­ging a hole five me­tres be­low the sur­face, boldly go­ing where no one has gone be­fore.

The goal of the In­Sight pro­ject is to study the process that formed the planet 4.5 bil­lion years ago. The pro­ject will give in­sight (par­don the pun) into how the ter­res­trial plan­ets of the in­ner so­lar sys­tem, in­clud­ing Earth, were formed, es­sen­tially check­ing the pulse of Mars.

Mean­while, back on Earth, I was think­ing about an­other cou­ple of In­sights, per­haps not as fas­ci­nat­ing as the one that just landed on Mars.

The third-gen­er­a­tion 2019 Honda In­sight, in which I’d been eco­nom­i­cally tool­ing around town, was sit­ting in my drive­way, await­ing an­other mis­sion All the safety fea­tures you’d ex­pect from Honda, like lane keep as­sist, adap­tive cruise con­trol, col­li­sion warn­ings, au­to­matic high beams and traf­fic-sign recog­ni­tion, are stan­dard on the 2019 Honda In­sight.

and trig­ger­ing mem­o­ries of the spring of 2009 when I drove a se­cond-gen­er­a­tion 2010 Honda In­sight across Canada.

When Honda landed the very first In­sight in North Amer­ica in 1999, it boldly went where no auto man­u­fac­turer had gone be­fore.

In­tro­duced as a 2000 model, the In­sight beat out the Toy­ota Prius by seven months as the first hy­brid avail­able to the North Amer­i­can mar­ket.

At the time, the three-door two-pas­sen­ger hatch­back with those funky back wheel spats, was the most fuel-ef­fi­cient gaso­line-pow­ered car avail­able in the U.S. with­out plug-in ca­pa­bil­ity.

The wedge-shaped ve­hi­cle was small, light and stream­lined and sure stood out from the crowd, for bet­ter or worse. Just

be­fore the end of its pro­duc­tion run in 2006, the In­sight won the RAC Fu­ture Car Chal­lenge from Brighton to Lon­don, fin­ish­ing the rally with a miserly fuel con­sump­tion of 2.9 L/100km.

The se­cond-gen­er­a­tion In­sight was still wedge-shaped but de­signed to make hy­brid tech­nol­ogy more af­ford­able to a wider range of buy­ers. At the time of its ap­pear­ance in 2009, it was the least ex­pen­sive hy­brid avail­able.

That year, Garry and I de­cided to check the en­vi­ron­men­tal pulse of Canada with the very first In­sight to touch down on Cana­dian soil, de­part­ing Mile 0 in Vic­to­ria, Bri­tish Columbia, on the Pa­cific Ocean on Earth Day.

We would mo­tor the 1.3litre, four-cylin­der, gas-elec­tric In­sight on a month-long

11,500-kilo­me­tre route across Canada, stop­ping along the way at en­vi­ron­men­tal venues that show­cased what ci­ti­zens, com­mu­ni­ties and com­pa­nies were do­ing to make a dif­fer­ence in re­duc­ing hu­mans’ car­bon foot­print.

Be­tween Mile 0 in Vic­to­ria and Mile 0 in St. John’s, New­found­land, we checked out ini­tia­tives like the spunky so­cially-re­spon­si­ble Grade 3 Van­cou­ver Is­land stu­dents who saved a marsh from de­struc­tion, an en­tire eco-vil­lage in Saskatchewan, toured Canada’s green­est zoo in Granby, Que­bec, and vis­ited a New Brunswick artist who makes beau­ti­ful art out of ban­ished junk.

The se­cond-gen­er­a­tion In­sight was a com­pelling ve­hi­cle then and the third it­er­a­tion, the 2019 Honda In­sight in my drive­way is even more so.

Built on the Civic plat­form, the 2019 In­sight is hand­some and, in my opin­ion, bet­ter look­ing than the Civic. The wedge shape of the first two gen­er­a­tions, that shape that screamed nerdy-en­viro-car, is gone and the sedan, es­pe­cially in its Tour­ing trim, feels more ma­ture and up­scale.

A 1.5-litre four-cylin­der gaso­line en­gine that makes 107 horse­power pow­ers the 2019 Honda In­sight. Two elec­tric mo­tors al­low the In­sight to run about 1.6 kilo­me­tres on pure elec­tric and pro­duce 129 horse­power for a com­bined 151 horse­power at 6,000 RPM.

The switch from elec­tric to gaso­line is barely no­tice­able. That in­stant torque at take-off and when merg­ing in­creases the In­sight’s fun-to-drive fac­tor.

Trunk space in the 2019 In­sight, usu­ally com­pro­mised by a hy­brid ve­hi­cle’s bat­tery pack, is the same as that of the non­hy­brid Civic, thanks to Honda’s smart tuck­ing of the bat­tery pack un­der the rear seat. The rear seat is com­fort­able and spa­cious.

All the safety fea­tures you’d ex­pect from Honda, like lane keep as­sist, adap­tive cruise con­trol, col­li­sion warn­ings, au­to­matic high beams and traf­fic sign recog­ni­tion are stan­dard on the In­sight.

The 2019 Honda In­sight is a well-rounded hy­brid that looks main­stream, be­cause it is.

Be­tween watch­ing the In­Sight Lan­der touch down on our neigh­bour Mars, mar­vel­ling at hu­man achieve­ment in the realm of sci­ence, en­gi­neer­ing and tech­nol­ogy and spend­ing time in the ef­fi­cient 2019 Honda In­sight rem­i­nisc­ing about cross-coun­try drives, it’s been an in­sight­ful week (insert groan here).

HONDA PHO­TOS

A 1.5-litre four-cylin­der gaso­line en­gine that makes 107 horse­power pow­ers the 2019 Honda In­sight. Two elec­tric mo­tors al­low the In­sight to run about 1.6 kilo­me­tres on pure elec­tric and pro­duce 129 horse­power for a com­bined 151 horse­power at 6,000 RPM.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.