Clarkson: Honda Hybrid is "Biblically terrible"

Jeremy Clarkson takes Honda's Insight Hybrid for a spin around the block, and finds himself wishing it was a spin into a tree:
It's terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It's the first car I've ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn't have to drive it any more. ... since the whole point of this car is that it could be sold for less than Toyota's Smugmobile, the engineers have plainly peeled the suspension components to the bone. The result is a ride that beggars belief. There's more.
All for 60 mpg, and 60mpg for all! Honda Insight 1.3 IMA SE Hybrid [Times]

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19 Responses to Clarkson: Honda Hybrid is "Biblically terrible"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Clarkson has been a UK motor journalist for a couple of decades or so and you can be sure he knows full well what CVT is. He was being mock-ignorant and mock-outraged – his usual approach.

    And having experienced CVT in different cars I can attest that some work (-ish) and some are like tired rubber bands and simply do not work very well at all. Few change gear without the screaming revs thing. The first time I came across one I didn’t know it and assume it was a std auto gearbox. It was a test drive so I put my foot down hard to test kick-down (changing down a gear or two when foot hits floor)- zero kick-down, plenty or revs, some time later some acceleration and a look on the salesman’s face that was a picture as the engine screamed away while I waited for something to happen. “WTF?” I politely asked. “CVT” he said. “Oh – a rubber band not a gearbox”, I said. He smiled and as I was just having a short test at request of my partner who was the real purchaser, we let it go. He knew she’d never kick-down like I had and I knew I’d never drive it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Joel, I’m very happy with my 2002 Prius. It’s the most reliable car I’ve ever owned (I’ve owned about ten – VW, Porsche, Chrysler, Ford and GM of various flavors).

    My other car is an SUV. I like to piss everybody off.

    Oh, and incidentally, on that subject, when I first got the car I would periodically run into people who would become literally enraged once they figured out the car was a hybrid. As someone said in an earlier post, spare me the culture wars crap. I just like having a super-nerd car…

  3. Eric says:

    I cannot remember the name BUT Honda did have a sports hybrid prototype and several companies have as well, a really amazing video game idea a few years back were special “auto show” versions of Gran Turismo, I have the Geneva and Tokyo auto show games, and while I no longer have the modded PS2 to play them, I will keep the games just for collectors sake.
    The Honda hybrid in the Tokyo auto show version had 400 hp and the gas engine was mid mounted and drove only the rear wheels and the electric was front mounted and drove primarily the front wheels, it also had a porsche-esque awd function. It was really cool to see all these concepts brought forward into simulation.
    From my stand point working in the aftermarket parts world, I don’t like hybrids simply because they are one step back two steps forward, a temporary solution to a permanent problem. It’s like a nitrous system in a car with no power, granted this analogy will get me critique I’m sure… I just see a LOT of people coming to me looking for new L-ion’s when they come from the OEM only, and also I mention, they offer the first replacement free do they not? I have received the answer that they are on the 4th and don’t want to pay what they did for the 3rd set, I’m confused when I hear this of course, and ask how is it that all the claims point to the shelf life being 5-7 years, I get an angry, “that’s bullshit” answer back. I just think a gas hybrid is stupid, a turbo diesel hybrid is what I would go for and I’m glad that auto makers have followed suit, while it’s not a good long term solution it is far better and more efficient then a gas hybrid.

  4. Patrick Austin says:

    Clarkson writes reviews from the perspective of someone who likes cars, and people who like cars usually don’t like hybrids. IMO, he is spot-on with his assessment of hybrids. They _are_ crap in terms of vehicle dynamics. Hard tires, crappy
    suspensions and weak engines do not make for a lively driving experience.

    If you want to make something a success in the market, it helps to win over the snobs who really care about your product. And yet, no one has made a hybrid for people who like to drive. It’s all either junky small cars or lipstick-on-a-pig hybridization of large cars.

    Here’s a hint for auto makers: figure out how to make a hybrid right around 2200 lbs, with 150hp, a decent suspension and put tires on it that don’t suck. Do that and all the anti-hybrid vitriol will disappear overnight.

    P.S. I think he knows what a CVT is, and again, CVTs are so far not much fun to drive behind.

  5. mappo says:

    FYI Joel – Honda is also planning a hybrid Fit, hopefully in about a year. That’s the one I’m waiting for, if my ole Elantra doesn’t give it up before then.

  6. Joel Johnson says:

    Doesn’t surprise me terribly that he hates it, but I wonder how much he’s throwing a fit (oh ho!) and how much it’s really no good. I’m planning on test driving an Insight vs. a Fit here soon. Now I’m extra curious.

  7. sworm says:

    To be honest I’ve never understood how buying a new car every 5 years can ever be good for the environment. And of course, it isn’t – it’s good for the economy.

    Want to stop global warming:
    -bike/walk short distances
    -car share & public transport where possible.

    NOT buy a new car at enormous environmental cost just so that you can be a smug shit.

  8. Comicoloco says:

    I wouldn’t take clarkson to seriously as a reviewer. He basically lied about the Tesla the time they had one on Top Gear.

    At best hes an entertainer, at worst a buffoon.

  9. pork musket says:

    @Joel – They’re both slow but at least the Fit is kinda fun to drive. Let us know what you think.

  10. mkultra says:

    The biggest problem is that Clarkson is so enamored of hydrogen fuel cells that any competing technology he completely rips apart, deserved or not.

    He’s lost all credibility in my book when it comes to anything other that a standard IC gasoline engine powertrain for this reason.

    It’s a shame, and not a little bizarre. Did a hybrid kill his whole family when he was a child?

  11. error404 says:

    Clarkson is an arse.

    His comedy “There’s no such thing as global warming” routine is held up by other arses as evidence in the face of the testimonyt of thousands of scientists.

    Anything that doesn’t have a carbon foot print like a sasquatch made of coal is poofter material in Clarkson’s world.

    Most of the world drive in a very restrained way to and from their work or drive for their work, so wheel spins, Le Mans starts, hand brake turns and the Bugatti Veryon play no part in their life.

    Clarkson is effectively being asked to review a bicycle and is lambasting it for not being the star ship enterprise. Or complaining about the lack of hardcore f*cking in Wall-E.

    He is a buffoon.

    Not only and arseclown but a very shoddy journalist.

  12. acb says:

    Clarkson’s shtick is basically being politically incorrect in the loudest way possible and striking a chord with the angry-white-man demographic. He’s sort of a British P.J. O’Rourke.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, but can anyone dispute his claims about the “real cost” of building hybrids?
    I don’t know, but am curious.

  14. Kate Nepveu says:

    The reviewer appears to have never heard of CVT before, which since it’s been around for at least six years (my 2003 Prius has it), makes me raise an eyebrow.

  15. Siamang says:

    I test drove one of these, and I liked it.

    Any links to more serious reviews of this car?

    FWIW, I have noticed a thread of hostility toward hybrid cars on general principle from car reviewers. I get the impression they like hot rods and muscle… and all other forms of cars are stupid and for smug, latte-drinking libruls.

    Save me the culture wars. What I want to know is: is the car solid, safe and reliable?

    Hey, boingers. Anyone have a link to a review by someone other than a celebrity shock-jock?

    Storm wrote: “NOT buy a new car at enormous environmental cost just so that you can be a smug shit.”

    … says the guy being a smug shit.

  16. gobo says:

    The reviewer quite frankly has no idea what he’s talking about. 90% of this review is shrill extremism for comedy value and has no place in anything but Something Awful. And as #8 says, the fact that he’s baffled by the concept of CVT — despite the fact that Honda and Toyota have been using it for nearly a decade — ruins any credibility as an auto reviewer he might have.

  17. gobo says:

    The reviewer quite frankly has no idea what he’s talking about. 90% of this review is shrill extremism for comedy value and has no place in anything but Something Awful. And as #8 says, the fact that he’s baffled by the concept of CVT — despite the fact that Honda and Toyota have been using it for nearly a decade — ruins any credibility as an auto reviewer he might have.

  18. dculberson says:

    Clarkson is an entertainer, nothing more. Don’t look to him for facts or data.

    But seriously, 0-60 in 12.5 seconds? That’s about a tie with a 1995 Geo Metro. Wouldn’t 14 years of improvements imply some sort of performance increase?

  19. Anonymous says:

    My ’91 Honda CRX HF still gets over 40 MPG (started at 50), and that’s an 18 year old car.

    Can I feel smug yet?

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