Honda Jazz e:HEV Review

This is voodoo. This is jazz. There is magic within this little car

The Honda Jazz loves to riff, innovating with magic seats that mixed ample cargo height into the capacious cabin, through the simple idea of lifting its rear seat base for more room. For the latest fourth generation edition it’s playing a new hybrid tune – the only flavour you can have it in. A 1.5-litre petrol e:HEV which is like a hybrid of hybrids. It features innovation not so simple in concept, but still devilishly clever.

Full hybrids either have an electric motor to assist the petrol/diesel ICE unit in driving the caror are ‘range extenders’ where the engine is there simply to charge the batteries – like carrying a portable generator around.

The Jazz e:HEV kinda does both. At higher speeds the engine is driving the front wheels, at lower speeds a clutch disconnects it and an electric motor drives the wheels instead. Somehow it manages do to this through a single-ratio gearbox. All this and it still retains the magic seats – the batteries are under the front pews.

This is a car that dismisses the compromises of a full battery electric vehicle by not having any, and makes redundant the notion of pointless plug-ins that need charging to not go very far, while stops at fuel pump are still regularly required.

That clenched-fist face is symbolic of its punching ahead of the hybrid game. It achieves impressive fuel economy somewhere in the 70mpgrange and emissions are around 100g/km CO2. The 0-62mph acceleration is dispatched in 9.4 seconds, top speed is 108mph and it’s yours for prices starting at below £20,000.

If you don’t want to carry objects in the rear passenger compartment and prefer the more conventional approach of using the boot, there’s more than adequate space again uncompromised by this car’s lofty lithium-ion aspirations. It’ll let you play dirty too with a waterproof removable plastic floor panel. You want more clever? How about blades grafted on to the alloys for reduced aero-drag.

At 6ft 2in with longlegs the rear passenger compartment proved plenty accommodating, and that’s still nothing compared to being able to stretch out in the front of this little car.

A motorbikeinstrument display is more informative than it appears at first glance and the steering wheel is borrowed from the futuristic Honda E. Talking of which, it’s generous on charging ports and storage with two gloves boxes and handy dashboard pockets. From behind the wheel it’s like a mini-MPV thanks to a broad and deep dashtop and a windscreen that seems to sweep off into the distance, again adding to the sense of spaciousness.

On the go you may find yourself preoccupied trying to judge when the engine or the motor is connected to the wheels. You’re wasting your time, the changeovers are imperceptive, just know that it’s all efficiently and quietly happening. Realise also the that the odd out-of-synch engine note that often occurs is because it’s not actually doing the driving, but possibly charging the batteries.

A big car feel makes it a relaxing motorway cruiser with mature characteristics. It boasts perky performance, decent responses at the helm, and suspension that can cope with worst of undulations. The stability and faithful response encourage confidence and reassurance.

Yet the Jazz remains fun to drive, if somewhat less engaging thank its predecessors, while agile and easy to helm, with a comfy ride and plenty of kit. Jazz fans will not be disappointed – well it has a great stereo too, so turn up the smooth tunes!

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