Review : 2017 Honda Jazz Sport Hybrid - The Hybrid System CR-Z Is Envious Of

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Review : 2017 Honda Jazz Sport Hybrid - The Hybrid System CR-Z Is Envious Of

This year marks ten years of Honda Malaysia popularizing the hybrid technology in Malaysia. Back in 2007, Honda Malaysia introduced the Civic Hybrid as a regular variant beside the petrol variants. Prior to that, there were small quantities of Civic Hybrid (7th Generation) between 2004 and 2006, only available to select dealers and customers.  

The Jazz Hybrid was first introduced as an imported model from Japan, and made Malaysian automotive history as the first locally assembled petrol-electric hybrid vehicle back in 2012. This move also saw Malaysia becoming the third country after Japan and the USA to produce Honda hybrid vehicles locally.  

With very favourable and encouraging incentives from the Government, as well as Honda Malaysia local R&D support, it was only a matter of time for the local introduction of the GK-based Honda Jazz Hybrid (model code GP5).

Specifications :

  • Engine : 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC Atkinson cycle, transverse, naturally aspirated
  • Engine power : 110 PS, 134 Nm
  • Motor output : 30 PS, 160 Nm
  • Traction battery : 0.86kWh, Lithium-ion
  • Combined system output : 137 PS, 170 Nm
  • Transmission : 7-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission with Integrated High-Power Motor
  • Safety : 4 airbags, VSA, Hill Start Assist (HSA), ESS, ISOFIX, Multi-angle reverse camera
  • Price : RM 84,880 (on-the-road without insurance)
  • Origin : Locally-assembled in Pegoh, Melaka 

Overview

The first item that captured our attention when Honda Malaysia first previewed the Jazz Hybrid was its name, Sport i-DCD (Intelligent Dual-Clutch Drive). The full-hybrid system now has a new marketing name and it points to its product concept of offering sporty traits, fun-to-drive characteristic, which the regular petrol Jazz already has in abundance. 

The combined system output of 137 PS / 170 Nm paired to a highly-complex 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (dry type) on an agile and lightweight Honda Jazz sounds like a recipe that surely befits the Sport Hybrid i-DCD naming. It is a big departure from the previous generation Jazz Hybrid Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) mild hybrid system, and on paper, even better than the higher performance IMA found in the Honda CR-Z CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).

Exterior

Viewing the Jazz Sport Hybrid from any angle, there is not one angle that seems to match its Sport name. Eco-biased 15-inch Goodyear GT3 tyres from Thailand in high profile 65-series are paired to the same wheel design as the entry and middle grade Jazz.

Tail lamps and headlamps are the same across all variants, unlike the previous generation Jazz Hybrid which had clear lens LED tail lamps and blue tinted head lamps. Thus, the only visual indicators the Jazz Sport Hybrid have are the blue-on-chrome ‘HYBRID’ emblems on front fender and tail gate.

To clearly stand out from the crowd, select the Hybrid exclusive White Orchid Pearl paint, as the grey shade and silver colours are available in the petrol Jazz too. Other notable exterior feature is the inclusion of LED daytime running lights, recessed into the bumper design.

Interior

Open the touch-unlock Smart Entry door handles, you will immediately notice the beautifully made Shift-by-wire gear select lever at the lower console. Finished in high quality plastics with chrome and surrounded in gloss black, the select lever is definitely the highlight of the interior. It is easy to use, with just 2 main directions (Reverse or Drive) for moving the Jazz. The pattern is similar to the system used by Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius. L-mode increases engine braking for travelling down long slopes. 

A button marked ‘S’ for Sport Mode is placed at the top right corner of the select lever area. The steering wheel does not come with leather wrap, however does have cruise control and audio control switches. One would expect paddle shifters to be fitted, being a Sport model, however, this feature is only available in the sedan City Sport Hybrid.

Press the red illuminated Power On/off button (another hybrid specific item, replacing the traditional Engine Start/Stop button) and the eye catching, premium looking 3D meter cluster come to life. Divided to three sections, with the speedometer taking central position and another full-colour display at the right providing many of the hybrid-specific graphics, such as energy flow, ECO driving guide and sport tachometer. Left section displays the gear position and a power/charge indicator.   

One of the biggest weakness of the old IMA system was the engine-power driven air-conditioning compressor, which shuts itself off during idling at traffic stops. In the Jazz Sport Hybrid system, a dedicated fully electric driven compressor continues to keep the air-con system in operation, distributing cool refrigerant to the cabin, keeping occupants comfortable in the hottest traffic jams. 

Storage space is abundant in the Jazz, with up to 7 large cup holders can be found. The large centre armrest console box also managed to hide a 700 ml beverage bottle. Boot capacity is slightly reduced to 314 litres, due to the placement of the lithium-ion battery. 

The reduction in volume is not so obvious visually, as only the floor height is slightly raised compared to the normal Jazz.  The familiar ULTRA-seats can provide solutions for better accommodation of longer and larger items, as folding the rear seats down extend the boot to an incredible 835 litres of cargo volume. 

Driving Experience   

On paper, the numbers and technology certainly look promising. A detailed explanation of Honda’s Sport Hybrid i-DCD system can be found here. There are 3 driving modes in the Jazz Sport Hybrid, namely ECON, Normal and Sport.

Pressing the green ECON mode button relaxes the accelerator pedal response, making it easier to keep the Jazz Sport Hybrid in full Electric Vehicle mode or EV. If the battery have sufficient state-of-charge, one can power up the Jazz Sport Hybrid, move stealthily out of the parking lot in EV mode.

During EV drive, the engine is decoupled from the dual-clutch transmission. Nestled within the high powered 30 PS electric motor is a planetary gear 1st gear ratio, and EV drive is done with 3rd gear ratio.  Based on observation, anything above 20 km/h and the 4-cylinder engine starts up, driving the car forward. At longer stretches of start-stop congestion, occupants will note that the engine sounds louder than the usual idling, as the engine turns into a generator to recharge the depleting battery. 

Once you have reached approximately 50 km/h, EV mode will activate again, gliding the car around in serene ambience thanks to additional placement of noise cancelling and dampening materials.  

Switchover between the engine and electric driving is accomplished with much refinement and smoothness. However, at lower speeds of below 30 km/h, the quality of the gear shift in the DCT could be improved, as it felt as if the computer could not decide if it really wanted to change gears in the first place.

Honda expresses that the Jazz Sport Hybrid has performance equivalent to a 1.8-litre engine with Sport mode engaged.  In normal mode, the DCT shifts up to higher ratios earlier to improve fuel economy.

In Sport mode however, the entire characteristics of the powertrain changes! The engine is always running, charging the battery to keep it topped up. Acceleration is much quicker with the feeling of more electricity deployment and gear shifts now at engine red line. After just a few quick burst of acceleration runs, I said out said out loud to my passenger, this hybrid system is what the Honda CR-Z with the CVT transmission should been equipped with back in 2012!

With the high output motor directly linked to the DCT, the acceleration is direct and instantaneous. It is a completely different feeling of the mass market hybrid image, where the electrification is used to fill the gap of the smaller capacity engine, and the electric motor provides assist. The Sport Hybrid i-DCD system is pretty much the same concept with BMW’s iPerformance hybrid system, where the electric power and motor is used to boost acceleration for a better driving experience.   

Looking at the engine performance curve above, the sensation of continuous power can be seen on the horizontal line. The combination of the powerful motor and 1.5-litre engine is delivering the maximum 170 Nm all the way to 5,500 rpm, and over 130 PS.

At this engine revolution, the CR-Z is only delivering 150 Nm and on a downhill slope, and power is about 122 PS. Lower system output coupled to the heavier CR-Z CVT (around 1,200 kg), the 1,158 kg Jazz Sport Hybrid certainly felt like it will win all of the traffic light acceleration runs versus the CR-Z.

Around urban roads and highways, the Jazz Sport Hybrid suspension felt comfortable and pliant. The quicker steering ratio matches the stiffer rear suspension, making winding roads going up to the famous hill resort such a joy to drive.

Even on the 175-section tyres, the Jazz Sport Hybrid welcome you to enter the corner just a bit faster. A small input into the steering wheel angle and the Jazz happily turns in even more, in a fully composed and controlled body movement. Confidence inspiring, fun-to-drive accurately sums it up.  

Cost of Ownership

Interestingly, the Jazz Sport Hybrid cost less to maintain compared to the Jazz i-Vtec. Over a period of 100,000 km or 5 years of ownership, the Hybrid, which does not require any maintenance on its DCT until 160,000km, cost a total of RM 2,867.95, which is RM 97 cheaper than the i-Vtec total cost. Expect less brake pad replacements in the Hybrid as the regenerative braking (motor turns to generator) takes up a lot of the initial deceleration energy of the car. 

In terms of fuel economy, the Jazz Sport Hybrid is claimed to deliver 25 km to a litre of petrol. This is a 45% increase over the standard i-Vtec, which is rated at 17.2 km/litre. My test route of 380 km consists of a highways, crawls in the capital city’s gridlock traffic as well as the enthusiastic drive up to the hill resort yielded a very commendable 18.2 km/litre in the trip computer.

Honda Malaysia also warrants the lithium-ion traction battery for 8 years with unlimited mileage. This is on top of the 5-year unlimited mileage warranty for the vehicle.

We have compiled a more thorough comparison on the cost of ownership here.

Conclusion

The Jazz Sport Hybrid dynamic performance definitely lives up to its Sporty marketing moniker. This new generation of petrol-electric hybrid technology from Honda delivers a driving experience that premium brands are currently spearheading, better performance through more electrification.

At the price range of RM 85,000 and below, there is no product that can offer that always-unique experience of full EV drive, practicality, agility and of course, straight-line acceleration akin to a larger petrol engine car that is all packaged into the Jazz Sport Hybrid.   

We just hope in the next round of product update, the exterior will have sportier items to match its incredible driving performance. 

Gallery: Review : 2017 Honda Jazz Sport Hybrid - The Hybrid System CR-Z Is Envious Off



Siew Weng

Siew Weng

Weng loves the technical bits of the automobile, and even more fascinated on the reasons the designer created the crease or fold, as well as innovative use of existing systems to execute new features. Prior to being in the content creation field, Weng was part of the product life cycle management team for a few automotive brands.


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