Car Reviews  

Honda Jazz Hybrid (2011 - )

Last updated 6 October 2014

 
3

Video Road Test

Kerb weight 1209 kg
Warranty 3 years / 90000 miles
Servicing -

Full specifications

Driving

The Jazz Hybrid was launched when Honda facelifted the Jazz range, so it gets the new look front and rear bumpers which have been designed to reduce drag. The hybrid model also gets the front grille, headlights and tail lamps finished in a chrome blue surround to mark it out from the petrol models.

The cleanest Jazz has the same engine as the Insight – a 1.3-litre i-VTEC petrol engine with Honda’s IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) technology and an automatic CVT gearbox. The sportier CR-Z uses a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine. Despite the Insight being larger, there's actually very little difference in weight - the Jazz is around 30kg lighter but it still feels more sprightly on the road.

The 1.3-litre engine produces 88PS with reasonable torque of 121Nm. But the key element of the Jazz Hybrid is obviously the electric motor. Not only does it help keep emissions down, it also aids performance with an extra 14PS and 78Nm of torque. It's different from Toyota systems in that the Honda IMA system is a parallel system - in other words the electric motor is mounted directly on the engine’s crankshaft between the engine and transmission. Toyota uses a series-parallel system which means it can run on just the engine, just the batteries, or a combination of both.

The Jazz can run on purely electric mode though, at low speeds and the engine is super smooth. This makes it ideal for city driving - indeed this is the environment the Jazz Hybrid is designed for. The light steering and good all round visibility make it ideal for busy traffic and slotting into small parking spaces. The IMA system responds quickly too and so the Jazz Hybrid is nippy away from the lights.

Honda has adjusted the suspension settings on the Jazz to increase ride comfort and improve handling. The Hybrid benefits from these changes and is more refined over uneven roads, plus it feels a touch keener in bends. It's no sports car and isn't very involving to drive, but it's easy and fuss free. The revised Jazz has also been given additional steering resistance to improve its 'on-centre' feel.

There's also good news when it comes to the gearbox. Honda has replaced the i-SHIFT automated manual that was originally fitted in the Jazz (and wasn't universally liked) with a traditional CVT automatic with a torque converter clutch. It's incredibly smooth with continuous and seamless gear shifts, making the Jazz Hybrid relaxing to drive.

It also helps economy and the Jazz Hybrid can average a claimed 62.8mpg. What is surprising is the CO2 figure. At 104g/km it's not exempt from the central London congestion charge, unlike the Toyota Prius or 'green' diesels like the Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion. Annual road tax is only £10 so that's not much to get worried about, but if you regularly drive into the centre of the capital and don't want to pay for the privilege, you'll have to forget about the Jazz Hybrid.

Out of the city the Jazz Hybrid show's another weakness. The CVT gearbox isn't designed for performance and asking the Jazz Hybrid to accelerate results in continuous and noisy revs. Not a very pleasant experience. It's okay to say the Jazz is designed for the city, but it struggles when during even moderate acceleration - such as joining a motorway or tackling a long hill - and the engine noise quickly becomes irritating.

Engines

Engine MPG 0-62 Top speed CO2
1.4 Hybrid 63 mpg 12.1–12.3 s 109 mph 104 g/km
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