Review: 2017 Honda Jazz Hybrid - New Heart, New Character

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Review: 2017 Honda Jazz Hybrid - New Heart, New Character

Just like its stablemates, the Honda Jazz is a class leader in the B-segment hatchback market. No surprises there, as the Jazz encapsulates Honda's 'Man Maximum, Machine Minimum' concept for ample cabin flexibility. 

Needless to say, I had certain expectations when it came to the newly-introduced Honda Jazz Hybrid.

The Jazz Hybrid, along with the City Hybrid, underpins Honda Malaysia's renewed effort in pushing affordable hybrid mobility for the masses. Following our recently published review of the City Hybrid, we now evaluate the merits of the Jazz Hybrid and determine if Honda is on to another winning product.

Specifications

Engine: 1.5-litre DOHC I-VTEC, 16 valve, transverse
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Power (Engine): 110 PS at 6,600 rpm
Power (Motor): 30 PS from 1,313 rpm to 2,000 rpm
Combined output: 137 PS
Torque(Engine): 134 Nm at 5,000 rpm
Torque (Motor): 160 Nm from 0 to 1,313 rpm
Combined Output: 170 Nm
Safety: Four airbags, ABS with EBD, VSA, HAS, ISOFIX (2x, second row seats)

Price: RM84,880 (on the road without insurance)

Origin: Locally assembled in Pegoh, Melaka

Overview

The Jazz Hybrid was first previewed at the Carlist.my DRIVE event back in May, and was formally launched in Malaysia along with the facelifted Honda Jazz. Malaysia is currently the only market outside Japan to receive the Jazz Hybrid.

Similar to the Honda City Hybrid, the hatchback sibling is based on the petrol Grade E variant, not the range-topping Grade V model. Compared to the City Hybrid, the Jazz Hybrid loses out on 16-inch wheels, unique LED tail lights, integrated LED daytime running lights and chrome door handles. 

Despite that, the new Sport i-DCD hybrid system that features a 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC engine paired to a seven-speed DCT is identical to the City Hybrid. 

Exterior

Exterior wise, exciting is not quite the word used to describe the Jazz Hybrid.

Parked side-by-side to the City Hybrid and you’ll notice what I mean.

Whilst the Honda City Hybrid gets a set of lovely 16-inch dual-tone alloy wheels, the Jazz Hybrid makes do with regular 15-inch units. Apart from that, there are no chrome door handles to speak of.

There are no other major visual difference between the regular petrol and hybrid versions of the Jazz, apart from a couple of small Hybrid emblems, similar to the City Hybrid.

Interior

Much like the Honda City Hybrid, the hatchback sibling features a near identical dashboard design.

In place of the regular gear lever is a shift-by-wire gear lever. While the arrows around the gear lever may appear confusing at first glance, it becomes intuitive enough upon familiarization. Those coming from a Toyota Prius will find this familiar.

While the meter cluster features the same multi-info display as the City Hybrid, the actual speedometer actually features a cool 3D-like design that gives the impression that the digits are floating.

Another shortcoming we noticed in the Jazz Hybrid is the lack of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which would have added dose of sporty appeal to the little Jazz.

At the back, the battery pack placed in the space wheel well took up 49 litres of boot space, reducing cargo volume to just 314 litres, which can be expanded to 835 litres with the rear seats folded down. Compared the non-hybrid Jazz, that's 46 litres less

Just like the Honda City Hybrid, Honda has assured potential owners that the battery pack in the Jazz Hybrid is well protected against rear impact collisions.

Driving Experience

Now here is when the unassuming Honda Jazz Hybrid truly redeems itself.

The roads that Honda Malaysia brought us was an excellent mixture of highways, trunk roads and city roads, giving us ample time to gauge the Jazz Hybrid properly.

On the trunk roads, we thoroughly enjoyed the Jazz Hybrid’s handling. The Jazz Hybrid felt surprisingly nimble despite carrying a battery pack in its boot.

Chuck the little Jazz Hybrid into a corner, the rear end just follows obediently without any haste. We also noticed that the front end is has a sharper turn-in than the regular petrol Jazz.

We dare say that the Honda Jazz Hybrid may very well be one of, if not the best handling Japanese subcompact hatchbacks out there, possibly inching ahead of the much-vaunted Mazda 2.

The earlier-mentioned lack of paddle shifters did hinder the driveability of the Jazz Hybrid, as we were not able to manually select a gear before entering a corner, unlike the City Hybrid.

Unlike the City Hybrid’s retuned suspension and strengthened rear bulkhead, the Jazz Hybrid receives a performance rod in the rear torsion beam and a 12% quicker steering gear ratio. Additionally, the Jazz Hybrid benefits from retuned shocks and springs, giving the little Jazz better ride comfort versus its petrol sibling.

Fuel Economy and Maintenance

As both the hybrid variants of the Honda City and Jazz share an identical powertrain, maintenance cost is a wash between the two.

Fuel economy is also near identical. Driven sedately, the Honda Jazz Hybrid should be able to return upwards of 20 km/L between each fuel station run, a figure that is much-welcomed in an age where fuel prices fluctuate weekly.

Just like the Honda City Hybrid, the hatchback should cost owners less than RM3,000 to upkeep over a period of 5 years.

Conclusion

Drawing a conclusion for the Honda Jazz Hybrid is a little tougher than the City Hybrid.

On one hand the Honda Jazz Hybrid is a swell little hatchback with road manners that rivals the best out there. The further icing on the cake is the versatile interior that encapsulates Honda’s ‘Man Maximum, Machine Minimum’ philosophy. Last but not least is the powertrain that transform the unassuming Jazz into a far more capable machine.

However, the equipment levels of the Jazz Hybrid does leave some room for improvement. While we can understand Honda Malaysia’s logic of mirroring the Jazz Grade E when it comes to equipment, we can’t help but to wonder how much would paddle shifters improve the overall driving experience if fitted.

Personally, the hybrid powertrain has certainly changed my impression of the Jazz. In the past, the powertrain was the Honda Jazz’s weak point, as the CVT dulls driving experience. But with the new seven-speed DCT, it is almost as if I was driving a completely different car.

With all things said, we reckon that the Honda Jazz Hybrid will appeal to buyers looking for a B-segment hatchback that won’t break the bank, yet is easy on maintenance and fun to drive.



Eric

Eric

Before he started covering events and reviewing cars, Eric was that guy you called when you had PC problems. Found his way into the motoring scene by chance and never looked back. For him, his ideal car is a hatchback with a manual.

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