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Honda Jazz Hybrid: Test Drive Review

Date: 06 January 2011   |   Author:

Category: Supermini
P11D price: £17,995
Key rival: Toyota Auris Hybrid

Honda's newest hybrid is the first one to be based on an existing model in a move aimed at normalising the technology.

Where previous petrol-electric models have been stand-alone designs in the Honda range, covering two generations of Insight, the saloon Civic Hybrid and the new CR-Z coupe, the hybrid Jazz sits at the top of the revised range, alongside the standard petrol versions.

The £15,995 entry point makes the Jazz the cheapest hybrid in the UK, while Honda claims it's also the world's first hybrid supermini and the lowest-emitting automatic in the supermini segment, although efficient diesels in the class comfortably break the 100g/km mark that the Jazz Hybrid falls agonisingly short of. It uses the same hybrid powertrain as the sporty Insight, which means an 88hp 1.3-litre petrol engine backed up by a 14hp electric motor. It will run at low speed on just the battery, though not as effectively as Toyota's hybrid system that will allow the car to pull away without using the engine.

The Jazz range as a whole has had a revamp at the same time as the Hybrid's arrival, with improvements to ride, refinement, interior quality and design, slight exterior changes and efficiency improvements. While subtle in isolation, they add up to a reasonable upgrade, addressing weak points identified by both media and customers.

The hybrid is distinguished by a blue chrome finish to the grille, lights and number plate surround, as well as a blue dashboard backing, rather than the petrol car's orange dash. It also has standard leather upholstery on the top-spec car driven here, and all hybrids get the economy mode button that aids consumption by switching the throttle, gearchange and aircon responses to more economical settings. They also get the dashboard diagrams that illustrate whether the engine, battery or both are powering the car, or whether the battery is being recharged.

To drive, the Jazz Hybrid is commendably normal, and without switching to the readout that shows where the power is coming from, it would be a struggle to know it's a hybrid. Looking at the power figures, it's no surprise to hear that the car's not exactly rapid, but the refinement work has been time well spent and the Jazz is a quiet and comfortable place to be.

The revised cabin is well designed and offers buckets of storage space, and the CVT gearbox shifts well.

Honda's main defence of failing to get the hybrid Jazz below 100g/km while the Toyota Auris and Prius hybrids can get below 90g/km is that it didn't want to compromise the Jazz's legendary interior flexibility, and it's fair to say the Magic Seat system does give unrivalled space and versatility. The addition of the batteries only eats into the 661 litres of underfloor storage, and the rear seats recline by 8mm, as well as folding easily to create a large flat load space.

Honda's latest hybrid doesn't provide anything definitive that's going to make people rush to buy a hybrid of any description, but it increases the overall offering for this particular eco solution and is one of the big steps towards normalising the technology. Yes, it won't sell in huge numbers and it isn't revolutionary, but in its own way it's quietly very effective.

Honda Jazz 1.3 Hybrid i-VTEC HX IMA CVT
P11D price£17,995
Model price range£11,295-£17,995
Fuel consumption62.8mpg
CO2 (tax) 104g/km (10%)
BIK 20/40% per month£30/£60
Service interval12,500miles
Insurance (1-50)group TBC
Boot space min/max303/1320itres
Engine size/power1339cc/88hp
Top speed/0-62mph109mph/12.3secs
On sale December 2010
VerdictShame emissions aren’t
lower but hybrids are
becoming normal


Shame emissions aren’t lower but hybrids are becoming normal