How Fast Can a Honda Insight Go With a Lawn Mower Engine?

The Honda Insight was the first hybrid car brought to the U.S. market way back in 1999. Back then, the Insight was a two-seat, egg-shaped car that emphasized gas mileage and aerodynamics over comfort and it showed, considering the car weighed less than 2,000 pounds.

Despite its efficiency, the Insight isn’t that great of a daily commuter, but it does make for a good engine swap candidate, which is exactly what one YouTuber did when he decided to swap a lawnmower engine into one. But how fast can it go with such a small engine?

The original Honda Insight was very slow

In case you’re not familiar with the first-generation Honda Insight, which was produced from 2000 to 2006, it’s a really small and underpowered car. How underpowered? According to Car and Driver, the 2000 Honda Insight was motivated by a small three-cylinder engine that was connected to an electric motor for a combined output of 73 hp and 91 lb-ft of torque. And according to their testing way back then, they were able to get the car from 0 to 60 mph in 10.6 seconds and noted that its top speed was 107 mph.

It’s obvious that the original Insight was never meant to be a performance-oriented platform, as is evident by its EPA-estimated 61 mpg city and 70 mpg highway fuel economy averages (at the time). But if you strap in a different engine, like a high-performance K20 engine from an Acura RSX, then it could be a great performer. Or you can go in the other direction and swap in a lawnmower engine.

A silver 2000 Honda Insight  posing
2000 Honda Insight | Honda

A Honda Insight powered by a lawnmower engine is even slower

The thought of putting a lawnmower engine into any car might sound ridiculous, and it is, but it seems to work well in the tiny, lightweight Honda Insight. Robot Cantina – a Youtube channel dedicated to swapping different engines in a Honda Insight – started off a four-part series by showing viewers its low-powered hybrid car. To get things started, they sourced a 212cc, 6.5-hp Predator motor from Harbor Freight, which only cost them $99, and then linked the engine to a CVT matched with a five-speed transmission in order to make it work in the car.

The original Honda Insight hybrid powertrain
The original Honda Insight hybrid powertrain | Honda

While they didn’t go into too much detail about the inner workings of the whole setup, it does look like they put in a lot of effort to make it work in the car. Additionally, they took out most of the car’s stock parts including the hybrid powertrain, spare tire, and the battery, which made the car even lighter.

It looks like it all worked out, though, as they were able to log some performance data for the new Insight hybrid project. As it turns out, with a whopping 6.5 hp, the Honda Insight can get up to 30 mph from a standstill in just 25 seconds and on to a top speed of 39 mph.


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What’s next for the lawn mower-powered Honda Insight?

The lawn mower-powered Honda Insight’s top speed was just the tip of the iceberg in Robot Cantina’s four-part video series. In the subsequent videos, they end up modifying the motor in order to get the Honda Insight up to 50 mph, but that’s another story. For now, we think that the stock Honda Insight’s performance numbers seem far better, but for what it’s worth, it was an interesting project nonetheless.