The Jazz is incredibly thrifty and the whole package feels a lot more substantial than its closest rivals.
Base price: $31,500.
Powertrain and performance: 1.3-litre petrol four with Integrated Motor Assist battery pack, 72kW/167Nm, continuously variable transmission, front-drive, Combined economy 4.5 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 12.1 seconds.
Vital statistics: 3900mm long, 1525mm high, 2500mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 223-722 litres (VDA to windowline), fuel tank 40 litres, 15-inch alloy wheels on 175/65 Michelin Energy tyres.
We like: Performance, refinement, doesn’t try to show off.
We don’t like: Very little grip in fast cornering, bootspace affected by hybrid hardware.
How it rates: 8/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Honda was one of the pioneers of series-production hybrids. These days, it’s determined to bring the technology right into the mainstream and this car is a good example: the Jazz hybrid.
The petrol-electric Jazz doesn’t rely on weird styling to make an impression: it looks (almost) identical to the standard models (the solid grille and blue-tinted lights are a giveaway) and while there’s a premium to be paid for the eco-engine, at $31,500 the Jazz is still one of the cheapest hybrids on the market (Toyota’s Prius C just sneaks in underneath it).
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Really rather good. The powertrain is essentially the same as you’ll find in the larger Insight. It’s really a ‘mild hybrid’, as the lean-burn petrol engine runs most of the time: the battery simply provides a bit of boost when required. The car will occasionally change into battery-only EV mode (there’s an indicator light on the dashboard to tell you so), but only in motion and never for more than a few seconds.
The driving experience is actually quite, elevating the Jazz hybrid to a level above mere eco-conveyance. The petrol-electric powertrain has slightly more torque than the conventional 1.5-litre Jazz, so performance is not lacking. The continuously variable transmission is not as engaging as the regular model’s five-speed automatic, but it is the best way to ensure the hybrid powerplant is operating at maximum efficiency.
The Jazz is a neat-handling little car, the hybrid version less so. It runs on Michelin Energy tyres, which may have very low rolling resistance but also have very little grip. Any attempt at enthusiastic cornering is greeted with an extreme level of tyre-squeal.
Best to sit back and enjoy a smooth ride. You can certainly do that, because this car is impressively quiet – more so than any other Jazz. Surmising that buyers of hybrid vehicles expect silent running, Honda has actually incorporated more sound deadening into this model than any other.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?
The Jazz’s high seating position, spacious cabin and incredible versatility have won it a loyal following over the years. The hybrid keeps the faith, including Honda’s Magic Seat system in the back that folds every-which-way and provides everything from a tall space for pot plants to a van-like flat load floor.
There is some compromise in the hybrid, with bootspace limited to 223 litres (with the rear seats up) due to the battery pack underneath.
The dashboard is made from modest materials but it is very stylish and pleasingly simple: clear dials, large switchgear.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
If you want a small hybrid for the fuel-economy potential, then yes. The Jazz is incredibly thrifty and the whole package feels a lot more substantial than its closest rival, the Toyota Prius C.
If you want a hybrid to make a statement, the Jazz may not appeal quite as much because it doesn’t shout about its petrol-electric credentials by setting itself apart from other Jazz models in a visual sense. It is, however, arguably nicer to drive than a conventional Jazz: better performance, improved refinement.
Air conditioning: Climate
Audio: CD, iPod compatible
Automatic lights/wipers: No/No
Blind spot warning: No
Cruise control: Yes
Driver footrest: Yes
Gas discharge headlights: No
Head-up display: No
Heated/ventilated seats: No/No
Keyless entry/start: No/No
Lane guidance: No
Leather upholstery: No
Parking radar: No
Power boot or tailgate: No
Power seat adjustment/memory: No
Rear ventilation outlets: No
Remote audio controls: Yes
Satellite navigation: No
Seat height adjustment: Yes
Self-parking technology: No
Split/folding rear seats: 60/40 plus Honda Magic Seat configuration
Steering reach adjustment: Yes
Trip computer: Yes
Find a Honda Jazz HERE