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Honda Jazz Hybrid

Our favourite small car just got hybridised. We took the new Jazz Hybrid for a spin and liked what we found.

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The Honda Jazz Hybrid's rear seats fold down with a simple flick of a lever.
The Honda Jazz Hybrid's rear seats fold down with a simple flick of a lever.

We like the Honda Jazz – it combines practicality with style, safety, reliability and fuel efficiency. And now there’s the hybrid version, which is even more fuel-efficient.

At $29,990 it’s far more affordable than earlier hybrid cars. Existing non-hybrid models remain in production and all versions use the same body.

City life

Around town the Jazz hybrid is a pleasure to drive and has very good visibility. The stop-start system stops the engine for as long as the driver's foot is kept on the brake; the engine restarts instantly when the brake pedal is released. (But if you have the air-con on, the engine often doesn’t stop.)

We drove it through city traffic and around some of Wellington's steeper hills. The car took to the hills without the slightest problem and – we thought – with less fuss than the non-hybrid version.

On the road

Open-road cruising is comfortable and relatively quiet, with the engine spinning between 2000 and 3000 revs depending on the terrain. However, open-road overtaking is another story: putting your foot down for overtaking makes the revs and noise rise substantially … but not too much else happens. “Leisurely” is the word.

Good and bad

You still get those magic Jazz rear seats that fold down with a simple flick of a lever to provide a loadspace from tailgate to the back of the front seats or fold up to provide a tall loadspace behind the front seats. No competitor has such a clever system.

The hybrid's battery pack does create loadspace compromises: it takes up some space in the luggage area, resulting in a 120mm step in the floor level when the rear seats are folded (not so convenient for those who use the loadspace often). And the non-hybrid models have a full-sized spare wheel while the hybrid has a space-saver.

Our view

We liked the Jazz Hybrid. It's practical, comfortable and well-appointed. Maybe not the best model for plenty of open-road work – but for cities and commuting, it's ideal.

Fuel economy (Australian Design Rules combined cycle):

  • Jazz S (1.3 litre; 5-speed auto; $27,500 + ORC) 6.6 litres/100km
  • Jazz Sport (1.5 litre; 5-speed auto; $29,500 + ORC) 6.7 litres/100km
  • Jazz Hybrid (1.3 litre + electric; CVT auto; $29,900 + ORC) 4.5 litres/100km.

The Jazz Hybrid's main hybrid competitor:

  • Toyota Prius Q (1.5 litre + electric; CVT auto; $31,280) 3.9 litres/100km.