Review: Honda Jazz Hybrid (2011 – 2015)
Spacious and high quality interior. Easy to get in and out of. Retains 'Magic Seat' versatility. Officially capable of 62.8mpg.
Expensive list prices. Emits 104g/km of CO2 so not free to tax. CVT box smooth but this is no sports car.
Honda Jazz Hybrid (2011 – 2015): At A Glance
While hybrid cars were once seen as a bit of a leftfield choice by many buyers, they are becoming more popular, reflected in the increasing choice of hybrid models on the market. The combination of a petrol engine with an electric motor, improving both performance and efficiency, works especially well for larger cars. Even Porsche has got in on the act with two hybrid models - the Cayenne and Panamera.
The challenge is making the technology work on smaller cars where the margins in efficiency are so much tighter and where traditional petrol combustion engines are the norm. Step forward the Honda Jazz Hybrid. Surprisingly it's the first hybrid supermini - beating many if its rivals, none so more than Toyota - to that accolade.
The cleanest Jazz uses the same powertrain as the Honda Insight - a 1.3-litre i-VTEC engine combined with a CVT gearbox, with an electric motor sandwiched between the two to create a parallel hybrid system. And just like the Insight, the Jazz Hybrid is capable of running on the electric motor alone at low-speeds. It's ideal for city driving with a smooth and seamless gearbox - the CVT replacing the unloved i-SHIFT automated manual in the Jazz range - and will return a claimed 62.8mpg.
The only fly in the ointment is emissions - at 104g/km it doesn't qualify for free VED. But as a suburban car it's still a better choice than a diesel as there's no diesel particulate filter, plus to its quiet and relaxing to drive. Add in great flexibility with the clever Magic Seats - the best seating system around - plus a well built and easy to use cabin, and the Jazz Hybrid has plenty going for it.
However, what will put many off is the price. The Jazz Hybrid starts at a shade under £16,000 rising to £19,000 for the top version. That's a lot for a Jazz especially compared to the standard 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrol models, both of which are already very economical.
What does a Honda Jazz Hybrid (2011 – 2015) cost?
Honda Jazz Hybrid (2011 – 2015): What's It Like Inside?
The Jazz Hybrid is not much different to the facelifted Jazz petrol model inside, aside from slightly revised instrument dials which have blue lighting rather than orange. This means you get an exceptionally well built and neatly designed cabin with a very modern feel. It's not quite as cutting edge as the interior of the Civic but gets a similar steering wheel and perfectly placed air conditioning controls, just next to your left hand. Why other manufacturers insist on putting these switches low down is still a mystery.
It's an incredibly easy car to get in and out of thanks to low door sills, yet once you're sat behind the wheel you still have a raised driving position with great visibility. The seats are comfortable and there's both reach and height adjustment in the steering column. The only downside is that the bonnet slopes so steeply away that you can't judge where the end is, so tight parking spots can be tricky. The rear is near vertical though so reversing into a space is far easier, helped by big door mirrors and retractable rear headrest.
The quality of the cabin is second to none and impressive for a small hatchback - there are several larger cars that could learn a thing or two from Honda about how to design interiors. The stereo is really easy to use and looks good plus there's plenty of storage including 10 cup and bottle holders, a split lever glovebox which is air conditioning and lots of small cubbies in the central console around the handbrake. The only gripe concerns the rather odd door pockets. The design means that it's hard to fish smaller things (such as pens or loose change) out.
Top HX models have a full length panoramic roof that extends over the rear seats and makes the back of the car brighter and more airy for passengers. The glass is heat absorbent plus there’s an electric blind which can be opened or closed if it gets too bright. Rear seat passengers also get a new reclining function which tilts back up to 73mms, a feature that's very rare on hatchbacks this size.
One of the key strengths of the Jazz has always been its versatility and despite the addition of a hybrid engine (and the associated batteries), the Jazz Hybrid is just as practical as the petrol models. It has the same 883 litres of boot space (with the rear seats down) and retains the Magic Seats thanks to the fact that the IMA hybrid system, battery pack and power control unit are all under the boot floor.
The Magic Seats remain the best system offered in any car this size - and many larger models too. The 2:1 split seats drop-down in one motion without the need to remove the headrests or adjust the front passenger seat position. And they fold flat too. If you needed proof of how good the Jazz is, with just two of the rear seats folded you can carry two 26-inch frame mountain bikes stood upright. There are two Isofix fittings in both the left and right rear seats together with tether anchor points in the rear roof for secure child seat mounting points.
The Jazz Hybrid’s battery pack is designed to last the life of the vehicle and is covered by a 5-year warranty, along with the rest of the IMA system. At the end of the vehicle’s life, or in the event of the pack becoming damaged it can be recycled through a Honda dealership.
Standard equipment from launch (February 2011):
HE models get 15-inch steel wheels, steering wheel paddleshifts, adjustable dashboard illumination, vehicle stability assist (VSA), hill start assist, Isofix child seat mounts, engine immobiliser, remote central locking, body coloured bumpers and door handles, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, privacy glass, height and reach adjustable steering, power steering, climate control, cooled glovebox, electric windows front and back, fabric seats, CD stereo and an auxiliary socket.
HS adds 15-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel stereo controls, an alarm, locking wheelnuts, electrically folding door mirrors with an indicator, front foglights, automatic headlights and automatic wipers, a leather steering wheel, front drivers armrest, rear speakers and a USB socket.
HX models include a panoramic glass roof, a leather gear lever, a rear centre armrest, leather upholstered seats and the HFT hands free telephone system.
T models add an integrated SSD satellite navigation with Traffic Message Channel (TMC) and integrated bluetooth handsfree telephone system (the auxiliary socket is deleted).
Child seats that fit a Honda Jazz Hybrid (2011 – 2015)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Honda Jazz Hybrid (2011 – 2015) like to drive?
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 42–65 mpg
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.
|1.3 Hybrid||63 mpg||12.1–12.3 s||104 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Honda Jazz Hybrid (2011 – 2015)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the Honda Jazz Hybrid (2011 – 2015)?
Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.
Can you suggest a small, economical car to replace our old diesel?
What Cars Are Similar To The Honda Jazz Hybrid (2011 – 2015)?
Unclear on what your next car should be? Use our Car Chooser to pick something that suits your needs.
What do owners think?
Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.
- 5 star 100%
- 4 star
- 3 star
- 2 star
- 1 star