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Discussion Starter #1
First off, I have to say thank you to all those, if there are more than one, who created and maintain this site and to all those who have contributed to it because without this site, I seriously doubt I would have bought an Insight. In fact not only did I buy an Insight, I bought her totally blind, as in paid for her up front without ever having seen one. Well, actually I did see one a few years ago when I was stateside but literally have no memory of her at all. Also never saw the inside of one, never sat in one, in fact gave the car no mind whatsoever because evidently she wasn’t going to be sold in Europe. But then Honda did decide to sell some in Germany, for one year. Also in Great Britain but since they’re still living back in the horse and buggy days with the driver riding shotgun, anything sold there is of no real interest.
So when I decided the time had come to change cars, I bought one that was for sale in Munich, a year 2000 model with all of 3,400 kilometers on the clock. The car was originally bought by some guy who was 83 years old and – obviously – he didn’t drive much! Couple of years later or so evidently he died and the family sold her to a local dealer who put her up for sale on the net where I found her. Picked her up for 10K euro’s which in my opinion was a steal of a deal and a half. And then some.
Almost a month after sending the money to the dealer – the French bureaucracy is notoriously slow and complex – I caught a train to Munich, spent the night, arrived at the dealer early in the morning and saw the car for the first time. Sweet. Better than I imagined. Put the plates on her, put her in gear, headed off.
Southeast on a German autoroute. Surprise, German autoroutes aren’t speed unlimited. At least this one wasn’t. Only 120 kph, slower than in France. Down into Austria briefly. Into Switzerland for the long run through the mountains. A sign said the passes were open. Good. Up and over the first big pass. Steep, twisty climb. Gorgeous. Then down, even twistier, maybe steeper. Then up a second big pass. Steeper yet, narrower roadway, sharper hairpins, very cool. Only just before the pass a barrier closed the road despite earlier signage saying otherwise. Merde as we say in France!
Okay, backtrack then head south over yet another pass and down into Italy to one of my favorite corners, the lake region, to watch the low light of a sinking sun wafting across the hills above Lago Maggiore. Beautiful. Back into the mountains and over yet another big pass and back into Switzerland. Sign on the summit says 23 K’s averaging 9%! Not much fuel consumed. Down into the valley, then west towards France, over a pass, a low one for a change, and into the Chamonix valley, over some hills and down into the valley heading for home where I catch the autoroute.
By now I’ve been on the road for a long time so I press the pedal and am cruising at 130/135. Fuel consumption goes up a bit but hey, it’s late, I’m tired. Forget it. And finally the last climb of the day, up to where I live, some 700 meters (2,300 feet for those still measuring distances by some long dead king’s appendages) of steep climbing. Bam, I’m home.
Final figures: 930 kilometers of autoroutes, mountains, steep roads, towns, traffic jams, country roads, everything but dirt. Fuel consumption for the trip: 3.6 liters per 100 K’s (65 mpg’s for statesiders – 78 mpg’s for the Brit’s)! Fantastical! Speeds ranged from slow to 135 kph (84 mph).
But I got to say hat’s off to those who are averaging less than 3L/100K’s. There’s no way I’m ever going to be able to pull that off. Going to town, yea, that’s possible. Like this morning, averaged 2.5L. Trouble is there’s the return with those 700 meters of climbing on grades from 8% up to 12% and lots of switchbacks. Kills the fuel consumption every time. So far I’m averaging about 4.3/4.4 round-trip home to town and back. Can’t complain though.
Tactics for the climb are way different than what apparently most Insight drivers are using. I’m in second all the way, except when I drop into first for the hairpins. Why? Because there’s no way I’m going to be able to recharge the batteries before I get home because I live right after the climb plus coming up in third doesn’t produce particularly significant consumption improvements. So instead of using third and sucking the batteries dry, I stay in second and watch the assist gage to minimize the battery drain. Translation: I come up hovering around 8 to 10 liters/100K’s and the battery charge only drops about two bars, three if there’s traffic to impede my flow.
And if anyone’s wondering what about the Insight’s acceleration, it’s more than fine. Or as they used to say for Rollers and Bentleys, it’s adequate. For a perspective, my last car was a highly modified last generation 300 ZX, non-turbo that I brought from the states with me when I moved to France 10 years ago. I like speed, I like good cars, and with the Z I was always rolling. Used to cross Italy averaging over 200 kph (over 120 mph). Her mileage was surprisingly good if you’re wondering, normally around 11L, sometimes less. Anyway, the Insight is one terrific drive, adequately fast and then some, excellent comportment and braking, and all in all way fun to drive. Contrary to comments I’ve read by usofa Insight drivers, for me the suspension isn’t hard at all and in fact is surprisingly good. The steering is good once she goes into the turn; there’s this hesitancy when the wheel is first turned but that’s pretty typical for non high performance cars anyway. Also I’ve read how people think she wanders too much but not for this pilgrim. But then cars in Europe are generally vastly more handling oriented than US cars. In fact the same cars sold stateside and here have dramatically different handling characteristics because they’re set up quite differently. Anyway, for me the Insight is a seriously terrific drive.
Enough. I warned you this was long. Oh yea, that trick for the auto-down for the windows really does work. Slick.
 

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Hey, lighten up a bit :) There's no need to get personal - I'm sure I could think of lots of similar things to say about some of the Chirac administration's policies, and might even have gone so far as to stop buying French wine in order to spit in the face of them - if, of course, I'd ever bought French wine to start with. (It's amazingly difficult to make much impact by boycotting something you don't use anyway.) But to stoop to nationalistic insults? That's too low even for me.
 

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Great story!
And a fantantic testimonial by someone who knows what REAL DRIVING is all about.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
to set the record straight

I am 100% American, though originally an imigrant like most Americans even if most of 'em arrived in N America in the 1600 and 1700's. I also think there's a difference between comments on government policies and statements based on some sort of nationalistic perspective. And yea, I live in France, am married to a French woman, speak French, and throughly enjoy life in Europe, and especially driving in Europe, and for the most part rather like the French. Truth of the matter is that from what I've learned the French are more like Americans than either the French themselves or Americans probably ever want to acknowledge.
 

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The important thing is that you are now an Insight driver and possibly the only one in France :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I think there's another

somebody in Paris is in the Insight owners list plus not long before I bought mine, the local Honda dealer told me Honda France had one with a few K kilometers on the clock that they were selling to a dealer for more than 20K euros, twice what I paid! Apparently Honda is going to try to sell the Civic here but whether with any success is another question since the French are particularly in love with diesel engines. Given that the fuel consumption of diesels has dropped so much and they've cleaned them up a lot, but not like the Insight, and that French cars cost less than Japanese cars, I think Honda and Toyota won't set any sales records here. That said, people definitely are checking out the car and my French friends are all blown away by its fuel consumption and cleanliness with some heading down to check out the Civic. Kind of funny that a car like this that is so perfect for Europe doesn't sell well while in the US where gas is still cheap, it sells relatiely well. Hard to figure.
But now that the French have started using your infamous speed cameras, hybrids will make more sense than ever.
 

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Now thats dedication. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone going outside of their own country to pick up an Insight. Ok so they aren't that far apart, still. What color did you end up getting?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
silver unfortunately

Really don't like silver at all. I swear every other car over here is silver, or seems that way. All because of the Germans. VW's, Bimmers, Audi's - they're all silver so now everybody wants a silver car. Boring. Doesn't get dirty, true, but doesn't get clean either.
Yea, I had many a good laugh on that. A classic modern European transaction. An American who lives in France going to Germany to buy a Japanese car from a German dealer who sells Renaults - French cars if you don't know - and then driving the car through four countries before reentering France. Modern Europe, great place.
 
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