Saturday, 16 January 2010

Jeremy Clarkson vs Eco Expert: Battle of the Hybrid Car Reviewers!

I would usually advocate that environmentalists take a non-confrontational approach. It’s usually unhelpful to set up an ‘us versus them’ dynamic. Besides, most moderate readers would conclude the truth is about half way in between, or that there’s a ‘third way’. Those people are wise. Nevertheless, I think Jeremy Clarkson needs challenging on his review of the Honda Insight, and I think framing it as an all out battle might help him to take notice!


Clarkson starts his review skipping over the fuel efficiency of the new Honda Insight, the point of the car. He tries to brush off the benefits to the planet: “sure, you could get 60 or more mpg if you were careful. And that’s not bad for a spacious five-door hatchback.” He prefers to base his review on “what it’s like as a car” to drive.

JC says: “It’s terrible. Biblically terrible.”

EE says: “It’s fine. Biblically fine.”

I have to wonder if Clarkson and I actually drove the same car. But we did. We both test drove the new Honda Insight 1.3 Hybrid, around mid 2009.

JC says: “It’s worse than the sound of your parachute failing to open. Really, to get an idea of how awful it is, you’d have to sit a dog on a ham slicer.”

EE says: “I couldn’t really hear the engine.”

Now I have to apologise to my readers. My language above was not as amusing as Clarkson’s. Perhaps I should rephrase, you know, just for effect.

EE says: “It sounds better than your parachute opening and drifting serenely to a soft sand beach for a peaceful landing. Really, to get an idea of how peaceful it is, you’d have to inject a dog with a tranquiliser”.

I think I’ve made my point. Clarkson is known for his colourful over emphasis, but in this case, I believe it’s at the expense of accuracy, and the planet. The engine doesn’t make your ears bleed, the seats don’t ruin your skeleton, and the top speed is a lot more than 23mph. Clarkson, you’re exaggerating. And what’s worse, numerically inaccurate. Not that anyone would believe 23mph anyway. Clarkson therefore effectively admits to his own journalistic hyperbole.

The systematically unfounded rantings of a famous petrol head have a dark side when people base their buying decisions on them. That dark side is the 150,000 women, men and children who currently pay for global warming with their lives each year. Tell readers in China and India not to buy the Honda Insight, and you’re adding to climate change. Perhaps I should over emphasise my point here for effect, and depict an image of Clarkson issuing death warrants and licences to drown.

Yes I noticed that the Honda Insight 1.3 has slightly less power than a Ford Mondeo 2.0. But it felt similar to any other 1.3. I pulled away from a roundabout pretty sharpish, getting me out of sticky situation. If you want to tow a caravan, maybe you need a 2.0, but for most people the 1.3 is fine.

We can at least try to say something is fine and be entertaining at the same time. How about we do a joint press release stating:

“If you want a normal family car that is “biblically fine”, buy the Honda Insight. It was built in Honda’s Fine Factory, designed by a team lead by Professor Fine of Fine University, Fineland.”

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
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