Honda Insight MKI is a retro-futuristic bargain
Four-and-a-half grand doesn’t sound much for what was once one of the world’s most technically advanced cars. But that’s about what you’ll pay for a decent 2000 to 2006 first-gen Honda Insight. Behind the spaceship looks there’s an aluminium body, suspension and brakes, a wind-cheating 0.25 drag coefficient, magnesium engine parts and an ingenious hybrid system. The three-pot 995cc VTEC petrol is aided by 144-volt electric motor that charges the NIMH battery.
For years the Insight was the world’s most economical petrol car, good for 65mpg and 112mph. Even back in 2000 at a strong £17,000, Honda lost bundles on every new Insight it sold. And the company didn’t sell many, with only around 200 officially imported into the UK. See the Insight as the motoring equivalent of the first Apple Mac or Motorola DYNATAC mobile ‘phone and you’ll understand the potential for retro-tech nostalgia. But the Insight is on very few enthusiast’s radar and prices have stayed low. The Car Warehouse in Cleveland has a mint black ex-japanese 2004 auto with 39k miles for £4995 while a private seller in Dundee has a grey 2002 Uk-supplied car with 52k, original Honda letter of congratulation and new battery pack for £3995. Manuals are prefered to the 2001-on CVT auto and you’ll need an aftermarket grid charger to keep the battery pack conditioned. New batteries are around £2000 fitted and available from Insight specialists. I’ve seen low-mileage cars with classic dealers for as much as £8k so now might be a good time to buy.