The heart of the Insight powertrain is the i-VTEC engine, which combines responsive performance and excellent fuel efficiency as a result of its lightweight, low-friction and efficient design. Rated output is 65kW [88PS] @ 5,800 rpm, and rated torque is 121N·m [12.3 kgf·m] @ 4,500 rpm.
The motor contributes up to 10 kW [14PS] @ 1,500rpm and 78N·m [8.0 kgf·m]. of torque @ 1,000rpm to the Insight's powertrain, assisting in acceleration and some steady state cruising situations at low-to-mid vehicle speeds (depending on conditions). The motor also acts as a generator during braking, steady cruising, gentle deceleration and coasting to capture kinetic energy and recharge the battery. The ultra-compact electric motor is located between the engine and transmission.
The CVT offers smooth and predictable transitions and excellent low-end acceleration and low-rpm cruising. By helping the engine and IMA motor stay in their most efficient operating range, the CVT provides a fuel efficiency benefit superior to that of a conventional automatic transmission with gears, and it allows for greater efficiency during regenerative braking by smoothing deceleration. The use of a lower gear ratio results in quick-reacting initial acceleration performance. The start clutch control is redesigned to take full advantage of the features of the IMA system, engaging at lower rpms to enhance initial acceleration and contribute to fuel efficiency.