The production Honda Insight hybrid vehicle made its world debut last week at the Detroit Auto Show but the car on display was the version designed specifically for sale in North America. Honda has now released full details and images for its European-spec Insight hybrid, revealing that its average fuel-economy will come in at 53.4mpg (4.4L/100km) for the mixed cycle.

In contrast, the EPA fuel-economy rating for U.S.-spec models is 40mpg in the city and 43mpg on the highway. No independent testing of the European model has been conducted as yet.

Europe will be a very important market for the new hybrid, so much so that Honda even designed the car as a five-door hatch.

"The reason we chose a five-door hatchback was that we wanted the car to be popular in Europe," project leader Yasunari Seki explained. "American Honda - the biggest market - asked us to build a car with a boot, but we decided on a five-door design because to compete with other green cars and sell more in Europe, it had to be a five-door hatchback. Of course, aerodynamically it is also a more favorable shape."

The European Insight also adopts slim, projector-style headlights in a four-light cluster. The headlight's low beam has blue detailing, and the indicators are located in the lower bumper face. At the rear, the car uses LEDs for the taillights and stop lamps.

There will be eight exterior paint colours and seven-spoke alloy wheel designs, and like U.S. versions the car’s interior will feature Honda’s new Ecological Drive Assist System. Furthermore, the Insight also features an ECON mode that optimizes control of the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), engine and related powertrain components to further improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

Power comes from a 1.3L SOHC aluminum-alloy i-VTEC engine and CVT, along with a new generation of Honda’s IMA hybrid system. On its own, the internal combustion engine produces 88hp and 121Nm of torque. The IMA incorporates a 13hp (10kW) electric motor and a compact Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) – recapturing and storing kinetic energy from vehicle braking and deceleration and supplying additional power for acceleration when needed. The end result is a 0-100km/h time of 12.6 seconds and a top speed of 186km/h.

Honda aims to sell 200,000 Insights globally, per year. The hatchback will be the first of a new family of Honda hybrids, followed by a production version of the CR-Z concept sports car, and a Jazz hybrid.