Some say this post is a Clarkson tribute

Jeremy Clarkson is pretty much my first read in a Sunday Star Times. Yes, he’s a loud mouth with a haircut and dress sense worse than stablemate James May, which is no small achievement, but on paper, I find him very amusing indeed. It’s no co-incidence he’s mates with AA Gill, another fine metaphor athlete.

 Picking up the steed for the weekend

So when I was offered the chance to drive a Honda Insight for the weekend by Honda New Zealand as part of their Business Insight challenge, I thought “finally, here’s my chance to do a sweet Clarkson-style car review. Yinnow, pick up a car, hoon around in it, then write some witty shit about it. I didn’t know I’d always wanted to do this, until now”.

Unfortunately for me and my Hamilton right foot, burnouts were pretty much off the menu. The challenge (against other Telco types) was to bring the hybrid Honda back with the most fuel efficient score I could. When I arrived at Honda’s Newmarket branch, Peter (who is a lovely man) talked me through the Insight’s control panel. There’s numerous cunning ways to show how much gas I used, including a kind of glowing orb that throbs green when you drive like Metiria Turei, and throbs blue when you drive like a bogan. As I set off into Friday rush hour traffic, my eyes hovered between the road and the panel, as it told me second by second if I was using petrol, no petrol or charging the battery.

On Saturday, after a quick child-seat install (there are child seat bolts and side bars, safety fans), we went for a weekend drive from East Coast Bays along the Riverhead highway. Turns out it was possibly the worst road I could possibly have taken, its twists and turns were poison to the economical driver. I did myself no favours on the way home either, when I explained to my co-driver that I owed it to myself to plant the foot just the once. I did, and the car went forwards faster than it had before, but kind of slowly, like a hungover thirty-something creaking out of bed.

But that’s OK – you wouldn’t buy this car because you wanted to mix it up with the kids at the traffic lights. It’s a modern, well-put-together economical car. Would I buy one? Maybe. It’s like owning a good, solid golf umbrella. Yes, it’ll do its job and do it really well, but would the 16 year-old-you have reckoned you’d end up as the kind of guy who REALLY APPRECIATED the pleasures of an umbrella? Not very rock ‘n’ roll, is it? The Honda Insight is a car for grown ups, proper ones, that want the right tool for the economical car around town job – it’s perfect for that.

As for the competition, it was the Constellation Drive motorway on-ramp that killed me. I had to negotiate it and the bumper to bumper traffic on the morning I had to return the car to Newmarket. At the bottom of the on ramp my ‘economy score’ was 5.1. By the time I’d crawled to the top of the hill, apparently braking and accelerating in a more gas-guzzling manner than the Dukes Of Hazzard, I was on 5.5. Gutted. Careful negotiation of the harbour bridge and spaghetti junction took me to 5.4, mid-table in the competition.

I’m happy with that. I’ll take my rock ‘n’ roll where I can get it these days.

Author: Richard Irvine

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