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In-depth reviews

Honda Jazz hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

Owners should find acceleration respectable but the Honda Jazz is best driven smoothly

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating

5.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

The e:HEV hybrid powertrain is quite complicated for such a small car but forget about how exactly it works and take some time to adapt to its quirks, and it's smooth, refined and very economical.

Its single-gear, linear acceleration and raised seating position will suit anyone who likes a relaxing drive down to a tee, and feels very grown-up for a supermini. However, anyone used to the fun, direct feel of a Ford Fiesta or Renault Clio may find it too uninvolving.

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While the Jazz is comfy, it feels unwilling to provide any entertainment should you try and push it, though it’s slightly more responsive since an update in 2023. The same goes for the automatic gearbox, and the steering feels slightly too loose just off centre. If you want a hybrid supermini that still offers engagement, a Toyota Yaris Hybrid is a little better. We also have a concern that the ride is too easily upset when 16-inch alloy wheels are fitted, so trim levels fitted with smaller wheels are likely to be the most comfortable.

Honda Jazz hybrid engine

Honda's e:HEV powertrain is an impressive feat of engineering for a supermini starting from just over £20,000. Along with its 1.5-litre petrol engine, it features no less than two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack. One electric motor is used to drive the front wheels, while the other converts energy from the combustion engine for storage in the batteries. Like many electric and hybrid cars, the Jazz gets brake regeneration tech which harvests energy from braking and puts it back into the battery. There are steering-wheel mounted paddles on the Advance Sport model that allow you to adjust the intensity of this system to your liking.

In its EV Drive mode, intended mostly for urban driving, the propulsion electric motor powers the Jazz. In Hybrid Drive, the smaller electric motor uses the petrol engine to keep the batteries topped up and the larger electric motor propels the car. And, in the final Engine Drive mode, a clutch bypasses the electric motors and the combustion engine drives the front wheels by itself – a situation most likely on the motorway. The automatic gearbox isn't really a gearbox at all because the Jazz actually has a single gear, similar to those fitted in fully electric cars. The torque of the electric motor is able to provide acceleration at lower speeds, negating the need for a spread of gear ratios.

The hybrid system’s power output sits at 106bhp, and propels the Jazz from zero to 62mph in 9.4 seconds. While drivers are unlikely to push the powertrain this hard, the Jazz does feel pretty nippy around town.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 i-MMD Hybrid Elegance 5dr eCVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £26,885

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.5 i-MMD Hybrid Advance 5dr eCVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £28,085

Fastest

  • Name
    1.5 i-MMD Hybrid Elegance 5dr eCVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £26,885

Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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