Although the Honda Insight design team started with a blank piece of paper - in that this was a brand new model with no history - they faced many challenges in creating the exterior appearance of the Honda Insight.
The Insight adopts slim, projector-style headlights in a 4-light cluster. The headlight's low beam has blue detailing, and the indicators are located in the lower bumper face.
"The concept for the main shape of the car is called 'Aero Athlete'," says Mr Minowa. "It reflects a sporty, lean body with no fat, the tension of muscles and nothing unnecessary added." The Honda Insight is fitted with a seven-spoke alloy design, to enhance the sporty image of the car.
Honda's IMA hybrid system concept is now 10 years old - having made its debut in the original Insight back in 1999. IMA stands for Integrated Motor Assist, which consists of a low-friction 1.3 litre engine that serves as the primary power source, an ultra thin electric motor, a lightweight and compact battery with a continuously variable transmission.
The engine itself is new, but is based heavily on the 1.3-litre from the Civic Hybrid. This modified i-VTEC unit from the Civic Hybrid has been further enhanced with lessons learned from the Jazz incorporated to improve fuel economy. The low friction, pattern coated piston design has been combined with a new catalyst design to further optimise this already highly efficient power unit. These measures along with a further stabilised combustion process give a fuel economy improvement for the engine alone of 2% on what is already a highly-efficient unit.
When combined, the motor and engine produce lively performance ideal for urban environments, with good throttle response and acceleration times to rival conventional 1.6-litre petrol cars with automatic gearboxes. The Honda Insight reaches 100 km/h from a standing start in 12.6 seconds, and goes on to a top speed of 186 km/h.
Using a CVT transmission in a hybrid provides smooth and predictable gear transitions and helps keep the IMA system operating in its most efficient range. In the Insight, an evolution of the high-torque CVT unit from the Honda Civic Hybrid is used.