2013 HONDA JAZZ HYBRID REVIEW
What’s hot: Australia’s most affordable hybrid; same Jazz appeal and practicality.
What’s not: CVT groans when pushed, uses 0.6 l/100km more than Prius c.
X-Factor: Hybrid benefits in an everyday package - another reason why 'the move is on' to hybrids.
Engine Tested: 1.3 litre hybrid four | Power/Torque: 72kW/167Nm
Fuel Consumption listed: 4.5 l/100km | tested: 4.8 l/100km
Vehicle style: Light hatch (hybrid)
More than four years into the second generation Jazz’s model life, Honda has plonked a version of its petrol electric drivetrain in the plucky light hatch.
And sent it straight to the top of the Jazz class as the new flagship model.
With a $22,990 list price for its single spec, the Jazz Hybrid’s claim to fame is its ‘cheapest hybrid in Australia’ status - undercutting Toyota’s Prius c entry price by $1000.
The Jazz Hybrid would be a close tie with the bigger Civic Hybrid for ‘most unassuming hybrid’ too, with just a clear grille insert, clear tail-lights, revised headlights and subtle 15-inch alloys to set it aside visually from the basic Jazz GLi variant.
It's priced $2000 just more than the previous flagship 1.5 litre VTi-S, and shares a very similar spec list.
Powering it is the more expensive Insight’s 1.3 litre petrol-electric hybrid with CVT drivetrain, producing the same 72kW/167Nm combined outputs within the 27kg lighter, 505mm shorter Jazz.
At 1178kg, the Jazz Hybrid is 68kg heavier than the equivalent 1.3 litre auto variant, but its hybrid drivetrain yields 32 percent fuel economy and emissions gains to deliver 4.5 l/100km and 107g/km.
This combined fuel figure may be 0.6 l/100km behind the Jazz Hybrid’s Prius c key competition, and 0.2 l/100km behind the more aerodynamically shaped Insight, but the Jazz’s tardis-like interior flexibility combined with petrol-electric driveability makes a pretty compelling case for us.
TMR was among the first to sample the new Jazz Hybrid at its national press launch in Sydney.
The Jazz Hybrid’s interior will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the CE generation model, and the funky overall design is ageing well considering its near half-decade vintage.
Hard-wearing plastics are blended with cloth on most touch points, and all major controls are easily located.
Unique to the Hybrid though is an expanded multi-information display ahead of the driver, with a new Eco Score driver efficiency rating, fuel economy history log, and an indicator to describe whether the drivetrain is charging or assisting.
Like the Insight, the Jazz Hybrid features a dash-button actuated ECON mode, where power delivery is softened and auxiliary electricity usage is scaled back to optimise efficiency.
There’s plenty of room all round considering the Jazz’s 3900mm overall length, and the its trademark 18-way rear-seat adjustment has been maintained despite the need to package the hybrid’s NiMH battery system.
Honda has placed this system beneath the cargo floor, causing a 100mm lift in cargo floor-height and the shift to a space saver spare wheel.
This now precludes a flat load floor with the rear seats folded, and seats-up cargo capacity is reduced from 337 litres to 223.
The Prius c may manage 260 litres with a full size spare, but the Jazz’s unique rear seat folding mechanism permits the loading of tall objects - like carrying plants home from the nursery - that would otherwise require a small van.
ON THE ROAD
Honda’s drive route included a good mix of motorway cruising, rolling country roads, and a touch of urban trudgery which gave us a good overall picture of the Jazz Hybrid’s drive behaviour.
At the wheel, the Jazz Hybrid feels a lot like the Insight, but is significantly different to any other 'conventional' Jazz.
Moving from rest, the Hybrid feels torquier than any regular Jazz automatic, due to its ability to deliver its peak 167Nm from 1000-1700rpm.
This was perfectly adequate in the stop-start traffic on test, but the 10kW electric motor and 1.3 litre petrol engine of the Jazz is not as light on its feet as the 58kg lighter 45kW electric/1.5 litre petrol engined Prius c.
Wound up to highway speeds, the Jazz Hybrid had no trouble maintaining speed on flat gradients, but the throttle needed to keep speed up inclines induces a degree of CVT groan - absent from the torque converter-only auto Jazz lineup.
This was also evident on the rolling country sections. And while we had no trouble maintaining the speed limit with two passengers aboard, overtaking takes some planning.
Curiously, the Jazz Hybrid is the only Jazz model to specify drum brakes on the rear, but no tangible compromise could be recognised on test.
Our seat of the pants appraisal is that the Jazz Hybrid is a step up on a 1.3 litre auto Jazz in terms of overall performance, and near identical to the 1.5 litre auto VTi-S, but offers a combined fuel consumption advantage of 2.1 and 2.2 l/100km respectively.
Another Jazz Hybrid advantage is the effect of 50-odd kilos of battery mounted behind the rear axle, which makes for an altogether more composed ride and a more balanced feeling than lesser Jazz variants.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
Overall, the Jazz Hybrid is worthwhile buying. It adds an interesting top tier to the Jazz line-up, and its underplayed styling could be a win among less-flamboyant green buyers (who don't want quirky techno lines).
It’s petrol-electric drivetrain makes it a better around-town proposition than current Jazz automatics, and it holds its own on the open road to boot.
It may trail the Prius c for performance and fuel efficiency, but remains ahead in terms of interior packaging, despite its smaller rear cargo space.
Many though, will simply be swayed by the Jazz Hybrid’s $1000 lower price.
Pricing (excludes on-roads)
- Jazz Hybrid - automatic - $22,990