Honda Jazz hybrid review
|Car type||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions||0-62mph|
The Honda Jazz has long been considered a great all-round supermini, but hasn’t done battle at the top of the class. Its reputation for reliability and focus on clever packaging have long been its USPs, but traditionally it lags behind rivals when it comes to ride, handling and value for money. Nonetheless, the car has always been a success for the Japanese brand.
With the newest version, Honda has retained key elements that have found favour with buyers in the past: a high roofline, flexible seating and simple, unpretentious styling all return. However, improvements have been made in key areas in an effort to bring the Jazz up to date – and to target a younger audience than is perhaps traditional.
The new car is recognisable as a Jazz, but has gained a slicker, modernised appearance. Its MPV-like proportions betray a form-over-function approach, with simple, rounded lines replacing the old car’s more angular features; a more rugged Crosstar adds fashionable SUV-like cladding and raised suspension. Inside, there’s a redesigned interior built solidly from uninteresting, hard-wearing plastics, plus much-improved infotainment.
The most significant changes are under the metal, however. The latest-generation Jazz is exclusively powered by Honda’s new e:HEV drivetrain, which consists of a 1.5-litre petrol engine and a pair of electric motors. It’s a sophisticated system that’s very well implemented – just as you’d expect from the engineering powerhouse that is Honda.
Power is fed to the front wheels via a CVT gearbox with welcome steps in its delivery to help address some of the usual criticisms of the technology. The result – achieved via three driving modes – is refined, efficient propulsion that’s perfectly suited to a car of this type. It’s not especially quick or engaging to drive, but that’s not the point of the Jazz.
Instead, it’s sensible transport that promises very low running costs thanks to some clever technology. We were disappointed to find that the impressive mechanicals aren’t matched by the car’s chassis, however: the ride is a little choppy and there’s not the same level of poise you’d find in a Ford Fiesta, for example.
There are a lot of cheaper superminis on the market – albeit without clever hybrid power. The closest rival to the £19,000 Jazz (climbing into the low twenties in higher trims) is likely to be the Toyota Yaris, the only other hybrid supermini on the market. Our early drive of that car revealed it handles and rides better, paired with Toyota’s tried-and-tested drivetrain technology. It’s a compelling package that'll certainly give the Jazz a run for its money.
The Jazz is a great choice for those who prioritise space, flexibility and efficiency above all else in a small car – and the fact remains that true hybrid superminis are hard to come by. If you want to have some fun behind the wheel, however, you can get a lot of value for money by abandoning hybrid power altogether and picking a rival from Ford, Peugeot or Vauxhall.
For a more detailed look at the Honda Jazz, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.