Drive – Honda Jazz Hybrid Review

25 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Honda Jazz Hybrid Review
Honda Jazz

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Brilliant seating flexibility

Spacious and stylish interior

Respectable city-car performance

Easygoing around-town nature


Tyre grip only average

Hybrid system not as fuel-sipping as some

Bluetooth functionality not great

Raised boot floor reduces capacity

Saving lots of fuel isn’t especially high on the agenda of Australian motorists. Witness the lack of success of the early breed of electric cars. While we apparently like the idea of doing away with fossil fuels and plugging in to keep our cars running, we’re a lot more reluctant to pay for it.

But hybrid cars – which team a regular engine with an electric motor – have transgressed that price gap to the point where such fuel sippers are now serious considerations. Enter the Jazz Hybrid, which (for now) is the most-affordable hybrid on the market. It’s the fourth hybrid from the Japanese maker, selling alongside the Civic Hybrid, Insight and CR-Z.

The Hybrid doesn’t look radically different to the regular Jazz models – other than a sparkly grille – which is perhaps why there are ”hybrid” badges displayed prominently.

What do you get?

At $22,990, the Jazz Hybrid lays claim to being the cheapest hybrid on the market, albeit by just $1000. But it’s $2000 more than the flagship non-hybrid VTi-S that tops the regular Jazz range.

Its equipment is similar, with climate-control airconditioning, cruise control, USB input, 15-inch alloy wheels, six airbags and stability control. There’s also Bluetooth but it looks an afterthought, with a bulky controller bolted to the pillar to the right of the windscreen. It also doesn’t integrate neatly, requiring volume adjustments to be made from that controller rather than the audio system’s volume knob, as is the case with most cars.

There is no reversing camera (and parking sensors are optional), which to be fair isn’t par for the course in the city-car class, but it would have been a nice sweetener to offset the price. The full-sized spare tyre of other Jazzes has been replaced by a skinny space saver.

What’s inside?

Jazz drivers won’t be overwhelmed by changes with the Hybrid. That said, it’s coming off a high base. The plastics and presentation are a step above most of the competition and there’s a functionality that works well.

The instrument cluster is special, though; a green glow turns to blue depending on how economically you’re driving, which effectively comes down to how hard you press the accelerator.

Thoughtfulness extends itself to the rear of the cabin, too. The back seats flip and fold with simplicity and in a way that makes it easy to accommodate odd-shaped items or give occupants more space. You can effectively turn the Jazz into a mini wagon or fold only one side for longer items.

It’s a very clever seating execution.

Honda Jazz

And while legroom isn’t always adult-friendly depending on the position of the front seats, it’s better than many rivals and brings headroom that’s well above average.

The boot, though, is compact – even more so than the regular Jazz due to the clever concealment of batteries; luggage capacity is reduced from 337 litres to 223.

Under the bonnet

The Hybrid gets the Jazz’s basic 1.3-litre engine (some Jazzes get a 1.5-litre) and it comes with an electric motor and battery pack to assist the motor. Unlike most hybrids, the Jazz’s electric motor can’t drive the car on its own, which means you’ll always have the hum of the engine once on the move; only when stopped, or moments from stopping, does the engine automatically shut down.

Performance is more than adequate and brings more spark than the regular Jazz, especially at lower engine revs, where the torque of the electric motor provides decent city-car shove. There’s a respectable 167Nm, which in itself is nothing special but being available from just 1000rpm gives it an edge over city-car rivals. It works well with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic, which is quick to match the driver’s input with an appropriate engine speed.

Being a CVT, it also does without the traditional gear shifts.

But despite the additional output, the Hybrid’s batteries and electric motor means it has more weight – about 65 kilograms all up.

Claimed consumption is 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres, well below the 6.6L/100km and 6.7L/100km figures for regular Jazzes. Expect to use between 6L/100km and 7L/100km (it requires only regular unleaded) in daily driving around town. Considering a non-hybrid Jazz would likely use upwards of 9L/100km in similar situations, it will quickly lead to savings.

Assuming you’re travelling about 15,000 kilometres a year, it could give you upwards of $500 in fuel savings.

On the road

Light steering and a tight turning circle (the turning circle is 40 centimetres broader than that of the regular Jazz) give the Hybrid the requisite manoeuvrability around city streets, while there’s a litheness to its manner. The electric power-steering assistance lacks the feedback of some of the better city hatches, taking the edge off otherwise impressive manners.

Noise suppression isn’t to the same standards, with a constant roar from the tyres as speed increases. Tyres optimised for fuel economy result in a decrease in grip. The relatively skinny 175-millimetre hoops don’t take much provocation to squeal.


The Jazz doesn’t bring all the benefits we’ve come to expect from hybrids, with only modest fuel savings. But it builds on a fantastic city-car package. Think of it as a better Jazz rather than the most-affordable hybrid going.

And therein lies its biggest challenge – convincing buyers it’s worth spending $2000 more than the most expensive Jazz.

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Honda Jazz
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