Does Honda Jazz hit the right note?

Honda has given its Jazz hatchback a little bit more eco-warrior appeal by launching the Honda Jazz Hybrid. Sporting a green (of course) “Hybrid” badge on the tailgate, it announces to the world that you care about the environment. Or, at least, that is the intention.

In its latest iteration the popular Honda Jazz is a modern two-box design with strong Honda design cues. The windscreen is steeply raked and meets the bonnet to slope down to the front bumper at virtually the same angle.

Honda Jazz HX

This necessitates MPV-style front quarter lights at the base of the windscreen pillars. Often these can result in significant blind spots, but it seemed less intrusive than expected. Indeed, the whole impression of the Jazz is of a car that is light and airy, with good visibility. That could, of course, have something to do with the giant sunroof that takes up the entire roof on the Honda Jazz HX!

Bathed in sunlight, it is notable that there is quite a bit of hard plastic about the interior – some of it grained and some in a matt finish. But, while it may lack the finish of some othes, it is functional and notably spacious.

The space for four passengers is really good for a car in this class. I never quite lost the nagging feeling that I would welcome even half an inch more backwards movement in the driver’s seat – but I think that was me being pernickety. Even with the driver’s seat at its furthest back setting, there was enough space for me to tuck my knees in the seat behind and headroom is ample.

In the now familiar style, the hybrid combines an electric motor with a conventional petrol engine. in the case of the Honda Jazz Hybrid the conventional power comes from 1.3-litre engine delivering 88PS.

Honda has done a good job of stowing the batteries for this hybrid. All too often, on these cars, you open the boot only to find that the floor is raised to make space for the battery array beneath. On the Honda Jazz hybrid, however the boot remains a good, deep, practical size.

Honda Jazz interior

Unlike hybrids from the Toyota family, the Jazz engine does come on immediately you turn on the ignition – at least, it did for me. But, to reassure you that it does run on electric you can switch on the display that shows when the internal combustion engine is operating and using fuel and when the car is operating under electric power only.

You can press the ‘eco’ button on the dashboard to prioritise economy. But, you also have two other options available. The automatic gearbox has normal “drive” and sports modes, to allow you to tune the performance to your desire. To add to the sporting style, there are also paddles behind the steering wheel.

“Sporting” is maybe not the right word. A glance at the figures shows that the Honda Jazz HX actually takes 12.3 seconds to reach 62 mph. Thanks to its responsiveness to the throttle it actually feels a bit quicker than these figures suggest.

Honda Jazz HX

The handling is not in the sporting bracket either. Probably because of the extra weight under the bonnet the handling feels a bit nose heavy and understeer is the predominant characteristic. That said, it seems to grip the road well and the limit to cornering comfort has more to do with the lack of lateral support on the seats than loss of adhesion.

In the end I was generally impressed with the Honda Jazz hybrid. I was certainly quite happy to reach for the Jazz keys as I headed out on any trip. Maybe I should leave it at that. But, like most hybrids I have driven, for all their technology, the economy and emissions seem to fall rather short of what you would expect from all that clever technology.

The combined economy figure for the Honda Jazz HX is 62.8 mpg. But I found my average rigidly sticking to 47 mpg. Now, that is a very respectable figures but it is no better than many conventionally-powered cars I have driven in recent months. For example, the Volkswagen Jetta I drove immediately after the Jazz, returned 51 mpg for a similar mix of driving over five days. Similarly, the carbon dioxide emissions are very meritorious at 104 g/km – but they miss out on free UK road tax by just 4 g/km.

Prices for the Honda Jazz Hybrid start at £15,995, with the test Jazz HX coming in at £17,995.
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