The new Honda Jazz enters a segment, that of multipurpose urban vehicles (or segment B), being probably the most original proposal in the segment. On the one hand, the new Jazz is only available with a hybrid engine that combines a gasoline engine with two electric motors. And on the other hand, it is a minivan, a type of body that has practically disappeared in Europe. Still, the Honda Jazz e:HEV has a solid case for carving out a notable niche in the market.
Honda is one of those brands that does nothing like the others. Thus, to continue in the B segment it resorts to an exclusively hybrid model. Until recently, only the Toyota Yaris dared to hybridize. Now, in addition to the Yaris and the new Renault Clio E-Tech , we must have the Honda Jazz. Certainly, the electrification of the car is inevitable, but continuing to propose a minivan is a priori a risky bet. And is that currently the minivans represent less than 2% of the European market.
In any case, Honda is consistent, since the first three generations of the Honda Jazz were also minivans, essentially due to a packaging issue. The Jazz has always been defined as being a car above all functional, very practical and versatile . In addition, although the sales figures are not as large as those of a Toyota Yaris, Renault Clio or SEAT Ibiza, the third generation Honda Jazz accounted for 25% of Honda sales in Europe.
Form follows function
Still, looking at the new Honda Jazz, you can\’t help but wonder if the Jazz is really from the same manufacturer that created the magnificent Honda e. While the urban electric draws attention, the Jazz seems nondescript, almost outdated, with its small minivan appearance, without any stridency or stylistic originality.
That does not mean that it boasts a careful design. It is enough to see how the lines of the pilots, the C-pillars and the windows intertwine in the rear to see it. The shape of the headlights and its daytime light signature by LEDs give it, under some angles, an almost good-natured air, far from the aggressiveness that all designs seem to express lately. Overall, it exhibits a cleaner and simpler design, but one that in today\’s market makes it go unnoticed.
As for why to opt for a minivan body, beyond maintaining a certain continuity, it is simply because it is in smaller cars that more space is needed. And the Honda Jazz is not very big, exactly. It measures 4.04 meters long , it is more or less like a Renault Clio, but it is 1.53 m high, about 9 cm more than a Clio. And in such a small space, Honda engineers have performed a small technical feat of packaging, being in this respect much more original than its exterior design.
For example, the gas tank is under the front seats and not under the rear seats, as is usual. In this way, Honda can continue to offer its original Magic Seats in the rear seats that allow the seat to be raised backwards, thus freeing up a large cargo space separated from the trunk.
Another example, the engineers have positioned the air box above the 4-cylinder, thus leaving space in the engine compartment for the electric motor and the starter-alternator motor that make up its hybrid system. In fact, they have freed up so much space that the 12 V battery is kept in the engine compartment, avoiding taking up space in the trunk.
The hybrid e: HEV engine, the only one available in our market, is similar to the one that will be released shortly in the Honda HR-V SUV . It consists of a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle gasoline 4-cylinder that develops 97 hp. It is combined with a 109 hp electric motor and a third engine integrated into the gasoline block, which also functions as a starter and generator. Thus, the Honda Jazz delivers 109 hp of power and 253 Nm of torque.
The system is associated with an original single-gear e-CVT, managed by an electronic control unit. Depending on the needs, the system modulates the speed of rotation of the motor and in practice emulates an automatic change of continuous variator. The battery, which completes the hybrid powertrain, is lithium-ion, is located under the loading plane of the trunk and has an estimated capacity of 0.7 kWh (Honda keeps this secret).
A very functional interior, but without passion
As soon as we get on board, we are faced with the same duality as on the outside in terms of design: it is clearly a minivan and at the same time it is a city car. The dashboard design is minimalist and vertical, the seats are high and the peripheral visibility is exceptional , thanks also to the A-pillar split into two pillars with a thinner section than in the previous generation; Jazz plays on both registers.
The many compartments on board, such as the double glove box or the deep compartment under the center armrest, reinforce the feeling of being on board a minivan.
A digital instrument panel whose graphics are reminiscent of “vintage” video games and a curious two-armed steering wheel provide an original touch. The white inserts on the steering wheel and around the gear lever help to bring a little life to an interior that is more functional than really original.
If anything, everything has a quality look, well assembled, and again, function has prevailed over form in devising the interior. Honda has focused on ease of use. All of your main points of contact, be it the drive selector, the controls for the air conditioning system or even the buttons on the 9.0-inch infotainment screen, are at your fingertips and all convey a very robust feel nice.
On the other hand, the Jazz does not forget the technological aspects, with its new 9-inch touch screen for the infotainment system that brings together the DAB digital radio and the connected services applications. The multimedia system is quite fast and intuitive. In fact, it is the same operating system as in the electric Honda e.
Satellite navigation is provided by Garmin in the highest Executive finish (from 24,800 euros). But in our test unit, with the intermediate finish Elegance (from 23,100 euros), the browser was a thing of the mobile. The Honda Jazz is compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Auto and is not a bad solution, as online services are often more up to date and offer more information than the integrated navigation.
Habitability and versatility are the two strengths of the Honda Jazz
If there is a section in which Jazz excels, it is that of habitability and versatility. In the rear seats, the space is excellent. In fact, it is superior to that of some D-segment models. The height space is also excellent, a consequence of its minivan design.
Rear passengers have more than just room to feel comfortable. The rear seats have two USB sockets and we share for mobiles. Also noteworthy are the generous opening of the doors (ideal for installing a child in their SRI seat) and the right front backrest that can be tilted horizontally (to load a surfboard, for example).
And is that versatility is another of the strengths of this Jazz. The trunk volume is 304 liters and without being the most generous in its segment, it is not the smallest either. A Renault Clio E-Tech, for example, settles for 254 liters. But it is only one aspect of what Jazz offers. The rear seatbacks can be fully folded to release a totally flat cargo space of 844 liters of capacity, up to the line of the window, or 1,205 liters if we load it up.
The seats can also be folded up and independently of each other, freeing the floor of the rear cabin and turning the second row into a sort of secondary trunk, useful for taller or bulkier items. Honda always put a plant in his pot as an example, but it can also be useful for a child\’s little bike. The Honda Jazz is quite simply the most practical car in its segment.
Priority to ride comfort and electric motor
The driving position is high (similar to what we would have in a chair), again showing its status as a minivan. On board, everything invites a very zen driving … that masters to perfection. If we are gentle on the accelerator, we can enjoy a 100% electric driving up to about 50 km / h, then the 4-cylinder wakes up, but it boasts good sound insulation and smoothness.
On the road and at a stabilized speed, it is even possible to circulate in electric mode (no more than a few hundred meters when the battery is full), but the transitions between the two types of energies are so smooth that on more than one occasion if it were not for the “EV” light on the instrument panel, we would not know what the power source is.
Ride comfort is high and everything is very refined. It is a very quiet car up to 110 km / h. At that speed, the acoustic insulation deteriorates, the rolling and aerodynamic noises are present, but the engine is barely heard. On the road, it has a neutral behavior, with suspensions pulling soft to guarantee good comfort. However, in the city, the suspensions seem a little firmer when passing over road damage or expansion joints.
The steering, meanwhile, is a bit slow if we pick up the pace, but it is direct enough in the city to give it the agility expected of a small city car. After all, the city is its natural habitat. In any case, it is very smooth, with a lot of assistance, but without being ultra-assisted like the Fiat 500. It achieves the right balance between smoothness of use and instill confidence.
As for the curious single-speed e-CVT transmission managed by an electronic control unit, it behaves like a traditional CVT transmission, although it will not revolutionize the engine as much as a true CVT transmission.
The interest of a hybrid car, especially one like the Honda Jazz where the engine is often limited to a generator function, is to achieve low consumption, especially in the city. In the end, the system works really well. In our test, the average consumption was 5.2 l / 100 km, with a mix of 50% city, 20% highway / highway and the rest on two-way national roads. Of course, going down to 4.7 l / 100 km in the city and going up to 5.4 l / 100 km if you have a heavy right foot.
Clearly, using the engine most of the time as a generator helps fuel economy. It is not a fully serial hybrid system, as would be the Nissan e-Power that will equip the new Nissan Qashqai, but it does behave as such most of the time.
In contrast, one of the inherent advantages of electric motors is not much appreciated in the Jazz. We talk both about acceleration, something very relative for a car that emphasizes its practicality and sobriety in fuel, and about recoveries, something that helps safety in cases of overtaking. The Jazz settles for a discreet 80 to 120 km / h in 8.7 seconds.
The Honda Jazz e:HEV is one of the most rational proposals on the market for anyone looking for a versatile, spacious, versatile, comfortable city car, really low on consumption and with the DGT ECO label. It also has good standard equipment (10 airbags, lane keeping system, front and rear parking sensors, 9-inch touch screen, climate control). Come on, it has it all. Or not.
Buying a car is in many cases an irrational purchase, even in this type of car. And the Honda Jazz e:HEV E has a clear image deficit there. Thus, between the Toyota Yaris Hybrid (from 18,700 euros), the \’traditional urban hybrid\’, and the Renault Clio E-Tech (from 21,654 euros), the \’traditional urban\’ now with a 140 hp hybrid engine, the Honda Jazz e:HEV has it complicated.
The Japanese is an old acquaintance that only reigned in hybrids and is cheaper, while the French, for the same price, offers more power and greater versatility when escaping from the city.
Instead, if we stick to a rational purchase, the Honda Jazz e:HEV should prevail. To finish convincing the undecided, Honda offers a 5-year warranty (3 years of original plus 2 years of mechanical warranty extension) with no km limit.
|Honda Jazz e:HEV|
|Engines||4-cylinder gasoline 1,498 cc and 97 hp. A 109 hp electric and an integrated starter motor that acts as a generator|
|Battery||0.7 kWh lithium ion (rated capacity)|
|Total maximum power||109 hp|
|Total maximum torque||253 Nm|
|Transmission||Front-wheel drive. 1 gear automatic transmission|
|Dimensions||Length x width x height (mm): 4,044 x 1,694 x 1,526|
|Weight||starting at 1,228 kg|
|80 to 120 km / h||8.75 s|
|0 to 100 km / h||9.4 s|
|Maximum speed||175 km / h|
|Average consumption approved in WLTP cycle||5.2 l / 100 km|
|Average consumption in test||5.0 l / 100 km|