Honda Jazz Hybrid [Road Test]

September 12, 2011 Off By Chris Hinton

There are more and more hybrid vehicles coming onto the market as manufacturers either produce their first hybrid or extend their range. One of the existing manufacturers who have added another hybrid to their lineup is Honda, with the hybrid version of their popular Jazz.
The Jazz Hybrid (a petrol-only version is also available) features a 1.3 litre i-VTEC engine with a CVT gearbox and, of course, an electric motor. Just like the Honda Insight, the Jazz Hybrid is capable of running solely on the electric motor under certain low-speed conditions. In fact, the Jazz Hybrid and the Insight share the same powertrain, so the drive features are pretty much identical.
The result is a highly efficient car with a stated combined fuel consumption figure of 62.8 mpg. In actual fact, I got 51 mpg around town and a rather nice 62 mpg while driving along country roads. The country road figure actually surprised me, but it was great to see efficiency like that and certainly makes the Jazz Hybrid an economical (and ecological) option.
So far we’ve looked at data, but I always think the most important aspect of a car is how it feels to drive, and how it makes you feel when you’re in it.
The Jazz Hybrid fares really well here. The drive is smooth and, since it’s a Continuously Variable Transmission gearbox, there’s no transition between “gears”. I’ve commented in several other hybrid reviews that there’s a common problem when you put your foot down: the engine revs very highly and sounds as if you are slipping the clutch. While that does still happen in the Jazz Hybrid, the soundproofing is so good it’s really not noticeable unless you are specifically listening for it. It was annoying in the original Insight, but now it’s just a minor part of the background noise.
Another common annoyance with hybrids is the tendency to go for split rear windows which, for me at least, puts a support beam right in the way for seeing what’s behind. In the Jazz Hybrid, we’re back to a good old-fashioned single pane of glass, which eliminates that rather large blind spot. I wondered whether this would have any effect on the aerodynamics of the car but, if it does, it certainly hasn’t had much of an effect on the fuel efficiency.
The interior is surprisingly spacious and the rear seats easily accommodate two child seats. The boot isn’t overly large but, again, will easily take a pushchair. It would be something of a struggle to fit everyone’s luggage in for a family holiday, though. Still, as an everyday family car there is plenty of room for everyone.
The dashboard, by the way features the same colour-changing tehnology as Honda’s other hybrids to tell you when you are driving efficiently and when you aren’t. What started out as a novelty for me has now, again, become part of the background so that I don’t consciously pay attention to the colour of the speedometer. I do notice, however, that I seem to be doing it unconsciously, which is probably the point, and driving more efficiently as a result.
I’m sitting here as I type this trying to think of anything bad about the Jazz Hybrid and, honestly, I’m struggling. It is a well-rounded car and there’s really nothing to dislike. It’s not stunning, it’s not got some miraculous new technology that puts it miles ahead of the rest of the hybrid pack, but it is genuinely nice to drive and be driven in.
If you are looking for a small family or town car I highly recommend that you take a test drive in a Jazz Hybrid. You might just find what you are after.
The Jazz Hybrid is available from £15,995 on the road, and further information can be found on Honda UK’s website.