Honda Jazz Hybrid

| July 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

We at Company Car & Van have championed hybrid technology over the past 18 months, not as the saviour of UK fleet, but as a viable alternative to low emission diesels.

Honda’s IMA unit first hit the UK way back in the 1980s but it has taken until the 2000s for such cars to really take off in the UK small fleet market. In competition with Toyota’s Prius and Auris, the Honda Insight also has the 1.3 unit found in my test car and having driven the vehicle, despite a number of reviews to the contrary, I found it to be both frugal and fun.

Some of you may be wondering why I am reviewing what has always been, for Honda anyway, a serially successful retail car, popular with the over 50s in towns along the south coast? Well, in early 2011, Honda’s Civic is nearing replacement and doesn’t have either a diesel or hybrid option at the moment, and with the Jazz offering almost the same amount of space inside, albeit in a more practical way, Honda UK doesn’t have anything else to offer the C-sector fleet customer, that matches the emissions of its main competitors until the new Civic arrives at the end of 2011.

To try & fill this gap in the Honda line-up, I took delivery of a bright green Jazz Hybrid to test. When I say bright, I mean strikingly bright green: there was no hiding place for me as I drove around north Cheshire.

Just like the larger Insight, it is so easy and so much fun to drive, almost like a go-kart, that I instantly fell in love with it – though it was easy to find yourself pushing far too hard on the accelerator pedal.

Inside, my hi-spec model was loaded with goodies, including flappy paddle-style steering wheel gear changers, which I just don’t use, and sat nav, which of course I do. The seats were quite funky, matching the dash layout, which is both simple and good looking, with futuristic blue lighting. There is a three-dial instrument panel, with speedo, rev counter and a battery gauge. In the centre is an optional screen display, standard on my car, containing air con icons, radio, CD and the aforementioned sat nav.

In addition, look out for the Eco button; this reduces the power and increases stop intervals. There is a Sport mode option, too, which can be used with steering wheel switches to change up and down, which I confess I didn’t use.

The 1.3 engine is revvy and growly and good fun when pushed hard. It’s certainly better than the standard 1.3 Jazz unit, particularly when going up hills. Honda has also improved the ride, as on the Insight. It was an area of complaint previously but there’s been a lot of work put in to improve it. It’s still not as good as the new Ford Fiesta, for example, but it is no longer a barrier to sale as some felt in the past. Having said that, you’re not really comparing apples with apples; a Jazz customer wouldn’t buy a Fiesta. It’s nowhere near as practical or offers the same room inside as a Jazz.

And here’s where the Jazz scores highly. Open the hatch and fold the seats down and the Jazz is a serious contender for Dr Who’s Tardis. The rear space that the Jazz offers puts most of its rivals to shame. 300 litres is offered with all seats used, while with the rear seats folded flat, the load area increases to 1,320 litres, plenty big enough for a washing machine or a mountain bike or two.

Most people who would look to lease a hybrid car for business would do so to save on fuel costs and tax. So, as the world’s first B segment hybrid car, how did the Jazz perform ?  Pretty well, actually. Honda’s official combined figure is 62.8 mpg. I drove the test car hard, and as a result averaged 42mpg around town, rising to 56mph on the motorway. Crucially I didn’t use the Eco button either, so I would say that given the circumstances the Jazz’s mpg performance was pretty good, and I really enjoyed driving it.

Overall, I felt that the Hybrid Jazz does offer a viable alternative to other B- segment cars and in many instances, is bigger and more practical than most C Sector or Golf sized cars. The only negative is that the hybrid Jazz is £1,500 more to buy than a standard Jazz and as most SMEs will lease their cars, this could well be be reflected in its lease price.

Unlike many other manufacturers,  you do have at least have a choice of Hondas if you’re going hybrid. I like them both, the Jazz for it’s go – kart feel & cavernous load space, the Insight because of it’s futuristic interior & quirky looks. The choice is yours, but for me the sheer fun of the Jazz in hybrid form makes it my favourite hybrid , for the time being anyway !

 

 

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Category: Honda

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