Functional Form - 2010 Honda Insight EX Long-Term Road Test

2010 Honda Insight Long Term Road Test

2010 Honda Insight EX: Functional Form

November 04, 2009

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Along with everyone else, I've had enough of seeing so many examples of the Prius scuttling back and forth on the road. It's a fine car that I admire very much, but it looks like a banana slug, only sadly not as colorful. One of the things worth admiring about the Honda Insight is the way it rescues the futurism in the Prius' basic proportions and makes it a worthwhile visual expression.

So many car designs these days seem to me like little more than rough pencil sketches reluctantly scaled to a few manufacturing hard points by a surly, overworked designer. Automotive design has become all about artistic expression and no one mentions function for fear of being out of fashion. But it's brought us a generation of cars that look like supermarket packaging, not useful implements.

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No one seems to design small functional cars so well as Honda. Remember the original Honda City? The Honda Fit and the Honda Insight are clearly the design standouts for the brand right now, while the Honda Accord Crosstour is a poster child for a half-hearted idea that's half-heartedly expressed.

As far as I'm concerned, there's no question that the Insight simply copied a shape popularized by the Prius, a aerodynamic raindrop not so different from Paul Jaray's Zeppelin dirigibles of World War I. The Prius has established a design direction that signifies modernism like no other. But I like the way that Honda has applied its own rigorous disdain of the extraneous and superfluous to make the form even more functional, shrinking the frontal area, tightening the fit around the passenger cell and crafting the inclination of the hatchback for less wake turbulence. And the result is beautiful as well as functional in the same way that good tools always have an intrinsic elegance.

I'd rather see a Honda Insight on the road next to me than the latest-generation BMW 7 Series.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 7,925 miles

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