Did the driving experience live up to it though? Well, skins of rice puddings were left untroubled by its less than awe-inspiring combined 80bhp from the electrically assisted 1.0-litre engine. The incredibly long gearing wasn't exactly snappy. And the lazy steering and sense the skinny tyres and narrow rear track were set up with drag reduction and low rolling resistance ahead of handling in terms of priority hardly inspire confidence either. But the lime green metallic of the car I drove, complete with matching fabric on the lightweight seats, looked great and the sense of engineering purity and minimalism really appealed.
And the need to chase regenerative charging in a car like this means you adapt your driving style to suit, this more proactive and planned approach making for smooth and ultimately relaxing progress. Keeping the gauge in the 'charge' side of the display rather than 'assist' feels like a small victory, even if the electric motor's modest 13hp doesn't exactly light up the road when it does kick in.
As an exercise in design and engineering purity, the Insight has always had a quiet but dedicated following. Currently more or less forgotten, when the big book of hybrid and electric cars is written there will be an important chapter on this car. And although I tend to prefer my cars to be a bit more red-blooded and boisterous I'd love one of these in the stable. They're quite cheap too.
A lime green one like the example I drove is up for just £4,000 with a very knowledgeable and passionate sounding owner going by the advert. It's a bit tatty round the edges though and someone re-trimmed those cool seats in leather. Bluergh! This late-model Japanese import looks smarter and, accordingly, costs nearly twice as much. Pity, it's a boring silver and the interior is plainer. But it still seems like relatively little money for such an intriguing and historically interesting car. And one that still fits the bill as a fuel efficient, stylish little runabout to this day.