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

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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.

While the chassis is well matched to the car, it feels unwilling to provide any entertainment should you try and push it. 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 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 at under £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.

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.

With a total of 108bhp and 253Nm of torque, the Jazz can get from 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds, which is sprightly performance for the supermini class. While drivers are unlikely to push the powertrain this hard, there's enough power to make acceleration comfortable in most situations.

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