CURENTLY the top seller in the Honda range is the Jazz, a compact car that not only delivers in terms of fuel economy, but one that is very spacious.
Contained within the range is the hybrid version, this model is built in Japan with the remainder of the range built in Honda’s Swindon plant.
The Jazz becomes the world’s first B-segment hybrid car and it has the same power train as found in the Insight, the 1.3-litre i-VTEC petrol engine with Honda’s IMA technology and automatic CVT gearbox.
This power combination brings low CO2 emissions and wallet pleasing fuel economy. These figures bring further good news, free road tax for the first year and only £10 per year thereafter.
Now Honda has been very clever, managing to include the technology without compromising the incredible versatility of the Jazz.
It features all the practicality of the petrol variant, most notably, the famed Magic Seats and an impressive load-lugging space of up to 883 litres.
The Jazz Hybrid demonstrates Honda’s continuing commitment to petrol-electric hybrid technology as it becomes the third car currently on sale in the UK to use the IMA system, sitting in showrooms alongside the Insight and CR-Z, the latter which I featured recently.
In bringing the Jazz Hybrid to market, Honda faced three major challenges: To accommodate relatively big hybrid devices without compromising usability and the large boot space; to improve fuel efficiency.
The body of the Jazz was designed as a compact car and the challenge was to improve air resistance within budget and to give distinctive features to differentiate the hybrid version from the petrol model in design and drivability.
After having spent some time behind the wheel of one, I can say that all three targets have been met; failing in any one would certainly have not been acceptable.
I have already mentioned Magic Seats, a key feature of the Jazz and thanks to the introduction of reclining rear seats; the interior is more flexible than ever.
The 2:1 split Magic Seats offer multiple seating and load-carrying configurations, drop-down in one motion without the need to remove the headrests or adjust the front passenger seat position.
For added versatility, the rear seats now recline 73mm to increase rear passenger comfort and flexibility.
With the seats folded down, there is a perfectly flat load floor; enough for four large suitcases or a few kids’ bikes.
With just two of the rear seats collapsed there is sufficient space and length for a surfboard or two 26-inch frame mountain bikes stood upright.
For all flat-pack furniture transporters out there, this mode uses the full length of the car by fully reclining the passenger seat and dropping the Magic Seats flat, a massive 2.4 metre long load space is revealed.
Locking the seat base in the up position against the seat backs creates a second load area between front and rear seats to stow taller items in the rear foot-wells.
The clearance here is 1280mm tall and items such as bikes, golf clubs, a folded wheelchair, tall plants and furniture can all fit in.
And since the rear doors open to 80 degrees, it is easy to make full use of this feature.
I was very impressed by all of this and such versatility must make the Jazz an appealing set of wheels to a wide variety of users.
Right at the heart of the Jazz Hybrid is the1.3-litre i-VTEC engine combined with a CVT gearbox and an electric motor sandwiched between the two to create a parallel hybrid system.
Thus this car is capable of running on the electric motor alone under certain low-speed conditions.
The end result, a combined fuel consumption figure of 62.8 mpg and with CO2 figure of just 104g/km this is the lowest for an automatic car in the B-segment.
The Jazz Hybrid is well appointed and it is great fun to drive; so forget those folks who say hybrids cars are boring and uninteresting, clearly they have yet to get behind the wheel of a Honda. And this hybrid is the most affordable currently on sale in our market.