Honda's burgeoning hybrid portfolio now includes a hybrid, petrol-electric version of the Jazz hatch.
The Jazz Hybrid shares a platform with the hybrid Insight as well as the same powertrain, comprising a 1.3-litre petrol engine that is bolstered by a 10kW electric motor. It's smaller than Insight but has the advantage of being significantly cheaper -- in fact, cheap enough to appeal as a commuter.
Priced from $22,990 it offers plenty in terms of technology, but the value is questionable when you off-set the extra cost against the amount of fuel that money could buy. Prices for a standard 1.3-litre Jazz start at $14,990, rising to $17,990 for a 1.5 and $20,990 for a 1.5 with an auto with all the fruit.
Then there's the competition. Its most direct competitor is Toyota's Prius C, basically a Yaris with a hybrid powertrain (priced from $23,990). There are also diesels from Ford, Hyundai and Volkswagen to consider all of which deliver outstanding fuel economy.
But the cheapest of them, the Hyundai Accent (from $21,590), was dumped late last year reportedly because of "supply difficulties". That just leaves the Ford Fiesta (from $20,290 but manual only) and the Volkswagen Polo (from $23,990 with a 7 speed twin clutch transmission). Both offer the same sort of fuel economy.
Honda introduced the hybrid to Australia back in 2001 with the first-generation Insight. It has since been joined by the Civic Hybrid, CR-Z and now the Jazz. The combined output of the Jazz Hybrid's petrol electric powertrain is 72kW and 167Nm of torque, with a stepless CVT style automatic and combined fuel consumption of 4.5 litres/100km. There's an Eco button and the engine also cuts in and out at traffic lights to conserve fuel.
Apart from its hybrid powertrain it is just like any other Jazz with the same practical qualities. But it weighs 70kg more and the suspension including the dampers and anti-roll bars have been optimised to accommodate the increase.
Its roomy with large easy to use controls and a wheel that is both reach and height adjustable. But trying to find a comfortable seating position was more difficult that we anticipated. The `Magic' seat system allows the seats to be folded in 18 different ways, except the way we wanted.
Cruise and a trip computer with distance to empty are standard, along with AUX and USB inputs and steering wheel audio controls. Also comes with Bluethooth mounted on the windscreen pillar, but does not include audio streaming.
Gets a full five stars fro safety from Australian crash test body, with six airbags, strong safety cell, electronic traction and stability control, and anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution.
Goes surprisingly well. Perky even. Maximum torque is available from a low 1000 revs which spins the wheels and get you moving quickly. It's small and manoeuvrable and cuts easily through city traffic, but the 15 inch wheels and skinny 175/65 tyres are a limiting factor and the car has a tendency towards understeer if pushed enthusiastically.
It's nothing the average driver needs to worry about however. It takes ordinary unleaded and we got just under 600km from the 40-litre tank at a rate of 5.4 litres/100km.
A serious fuel miser that manages to maintain an element of fun. Considered in isolation it makes sense, but the same money buys plenty of other cars, even if they aren't quite as green.
Honda Jazz Hybrid
Price: from $22,990
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Capped servicing: No
Service Interval: 6 months/10,000km
Resale: 48 per cent
Safety: 5 stars
Engine: 1.3-litre 4-cyl petrol/10kW electric (72kW/167Nm combined)
Transmission: CVT auto
Dimensions: 3.9m (L); 1.7m (w); 1.5m (H)
Weight: 1178kg (unladen)
Spare: space saver