All that Jazz and more



The new Jazz is the first Honda here to have a hybrid system which allows it to be driven in electric mode.



The high-compression engine of the Jazz 1.5 e-HEV has a lot more torque than its non-hybrid twin as well as its predecessor.


SINGAPORE - The new Jazz is the first Honda here to have a hybrid system which allows it to be driven in electric mode. All its previous hybrid systems acted solely as power assistants which complement the engine.

But unlike the Toyota hybrids, which can also be driven in emission-free mode, the Honda hatchback's combustion engine does not cut in too readily, allowing it to cruise silently for longer periods and at higher speeds.

For a geek like me, it is a thrill to see the drive-mode graphics on the digital instrumentation telling me the car is going at 90kmh without burning a drop of petrol. As long as the car's lithium-ion battery is close to at least half-charged, it will facilitate this engine-free cruising. On a completely flat stretch of tarmac, I estimate it can go on like this for between 1.5km and 2km.


At crawling speeds, the Jazz will often be in electric mode too, just like the Toyota hybrids.

The series-parallel hybrid is similar to Toyota's latest hybrid systems. Yet, it has some unique features, including separate radiators for cooling its petrol engine and two motors (one for driving the wheels, the other for power generation). There is also a vent behind the rear right seat to cool the lithium-ion battery pack under the boot floor.

For compact packaging and efficiency, the two motors are built into the car's transmission. There is no transmission in the traditional sense of the word, as the car's drive motor takes care of low to medium speeds, while the engine comes in at expressway speeds. Both can also work in unison for brisk acceleration below 100kmh or so. The engine also drives the generator motor to recharge the battery.


This Honda hybrid system is also unique because its set-up allows the battery to maintain a reasonably high state of charge under most driving conditions. In this test-drive, it rarely falls below the quarter mark. This, in turn, allows the car to go on electric mode at higher speeds and longer distances, as mentioned earlier.

The hybrid system also boosts performance. Although the high-compression engine (13.5:1) of the Jazz 1.5 e-HEV makes less power than its non-hybrid twin as well as its predecessor, it has a lot more torque. Up to 253Nm gushes out the moment you step on the accelerator.

This translates to quicker acceleration, with the century sprint dispatched in 9.4 seconds, versus the non-hybrid's 10.5 seconds and its predecessor's 9.6 seconds. Top speed is 170kmh for both current cars, down from 196kmh for the previous Jazz.

What does all this mean for efficiency - the main proposition of hybrids? The test-car averages 5.2 litres/100km, which is not quite Honda's claimed 3.8 litres, but is noticeably better than the 7.1-litre real-life reading of the previous Jazz tested in 2014.

While it is still not nearly as efficient as a Toyota hybrid of a similar size, the Jazz is more fun to drive. It is a perkier performer, especially if you floor the pedal to bring forth the combined forces of the engine and motor.

The futuristically styled car has about the same footprint as the previous Jazz, but 131mm has been shaved from its height. It is more refined and packed with features. Notable ones include a camera-based adaptive cruise control, which works flawlessly in heavy downpour (unlike some radar-based systems found in higher-end cars); and a reverse camera, which is crisp even in low-light conditions.

Its price is slightly lower than the non-hybrid in 2014, but it could be even lower given that the difference in Certificate of Entitlement premiums and emission rebate add up to quite a bit. Still, not a completely raw deal for a more advanced car, which packs more punch, efficiency and technological panache.



The futuristically styled car has about the same footprint as the previous Jazz.


Credits: The Straits Times. Author: Christopher Tan 

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