A two-door automobile from Honda that is expected to get 70 MPG (almost 30 km/L) on the highway, and 61 MPG (almost 26 km/L) in the city.

It has three cylinders, a manual transmission, and seats only two people. The real boost in fuel efficiency, however, comes from charging a battery when the brakes are applied, then using the battery to power an electric motor to get the car back up to speed.

You don't have to plug it in; just fill the 10.6-gallon gas tank, albeit less often than before. So much for the jokes about the really long extension cord.

At around USD 20k with air conditioning, the Insight isn't cheap to buy, but could be a bargain in the long run. More importantly, it uses less fossil fuels (good for the pocketbook and the environment) than anything more powerful than a moped.

The Honda Insight will be available Winter 2000 in cherry red, apple green, and metallic grey.

The Insight is Japanese Honda's entry into the hybrid (petrol engine with electric generator motor) car arena, following the Toyota Prius.

The styling is distinctive and futuristic, as you would expect of this "new wave" vehicle. It looks sort of like a malformed Honda Civic. The car is aerodynamically sound, producing a mere 0.29 Cd (drag coefficient). Since the purpose of a hybrid car is mileage, mileage, mileage, it does not offer too much in the way of engine power -- a 1.0-liter, SOHC inline three-cylinder Honda engine with computer-assisted VTEC-E techology helps put out a good 67 hp @ 5700 rpm. The Insight is also available with a Continously Variable Transmission (CVT, or a "gearless" automatic transmission), which robs the car of two hp.

However, the CVT model meets California's extremely harsh Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) standards, and gets an amazing 57 miles per gallon in city (stop-and-go) conditions, with 56 highway (the manual transmission Insight meets Ultra Low ULEV, and gets 61 mpg city, 68 mpg highway).

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