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Honda Jazz 1.3 i-VTEC Hybrid HE CVT

Click to view picture gallery“Hondas revised and enhanced
  supermini-sized, five-door Jazz
  range goes on sale in time to catch
  the new 11-plate shoppers — and
  the Jazz’s headline act is the new
  petrol/Hybrid version

THE 1.3-LITRE PETROL/HYBRID version sits alongside the conventional 1.2 and 1.4 petrol models. Prices start at 11,295 for the 1.2 S, 13,495 for the 1.4 ES and 15,995 for the Hybrid HE. Specification grades for the 1.3 petrol/Hybrid model are HE, HS and HX.

Petrol-engined Jazz models are built at Honda's UK manufacturing plant at Swindon; Jazz Hybrid models are built in Japan. In the UK, Honda will sell in a full year 27,000 of the revised petrol Jazz models (with around 70% of customers opting for the 1.4-litre petrol version) and 3,000 of the new Jazz Hybrid.

Good news is that Honda has done away with their unloved automated clutchless i-Shift option and reverted to the CVT automatic transmission and this is standard fit for the Hybrid versions (it's also available, for an extra 1,000, on the 1.4 petrol models). Forty per cent of Jazz customers opt for the auto 'box and this change was made following feedback from owners.

The Jazz is Honda's most popular model range and customer loyalty is a big issue: over 60% of Jazz owners remain Jazz owners. The downside of this is that the average age of their owners is 65 years 10 years on average higher than traditional 'supermini' buyers.

The extra torque from
the electric motor makes
it very responsive
during acceleration from
low speeds, and in the
cruise the power units
allow the Jazz to just roll
along effortlessly
However, Honda sees that average age reducing as young buyers, singles and families are likely to be attracted to the new Hybrid technology. And, of course, the lower running costs. As fuel prices increase and family budgets come under even more pressure, motorists reduce their annual mileages and downsize their cars.

Steve Kirk, communications manager for Honda UK, said the 2011 model year Jazz range is the same but better, and the revisions come from suggestions made by their loyal owners: "We have improved emissions and fuel economy, improved the quality of ride, given the steering more 'feel', the Jazz has a new face and other exterior aerodynamic tweaks and there is a refreshed interior but there's no compromise on practicality." And, he added: "The Hybrid additional powertrain is the world's first in the B-segment (supermini) and it is the most affordable Hybrid on sale in the UK. It is also the first Honda to have a Hybrid version in an already tried-and-tested model range."

The 1.3-litre petrol/Hybrid is the 'top-billing' new addition to the range and is the same powerplant as used for the Honda Insight Hybrid. Jazz Hybrid prices start at 15,995 but the CVT transmission is standard. Even so, the Hybrid is 1,500 more than the conventional 1.4-litre petrol CVT model, so it's out with the family calculator to see if the sums add up for average annual mileage, fuel consumption and road tax savings versus the extra purchase cost.

The Hybrid's petrol engine produces 87bhp and 89lb ft of torque and the electric motor 14bhp and 57lb ft. The extra torque makes it very responsive during acceleration from low speeds, and in the cruise the power units allow the Jazz to just roll along effortlessly.

There's also an ECO mode function at the push of a button, lots of information as to power or Hybrid boost modes in operation and the dials change colour from blue to green as a prompt to a 'greener' fuel-efficient driving style. Oh yes, and little green tree symbols appear the more frugally you drive... Naturally there's the usual auto stop/start function as well. What all this adds up to is an official fuel consumption of 62.8mpg with tailpipe emissions of 104g/km. Top speed is 109mph and zero to 62mph takes 12.3 seconds.

During my rural drive, the test car returned 58.1mpg driven in a reasonable manner over the same route as the non-Hybrid 1.4-litre petrol CVT version.

The lower CO2 emissions mean 0 VED for the first year for the Hybrid and 10 a year after that. Company car drivers will pay only 10% BIK tax as opposed to 15% for the non-Hybrid Jazz models.

The steering now offers
a little more feedback
and its agility and light
touch means the Jazz
is easy to drive
in traffic and compact
to park...”
Note that the 104g/km from the Jazz Hybrid means it doesn't get around the London Congestion charge either.

Conventional diesel superminis such as the VW Polo BlueMotion and Ford Fiesta Econetic are cheaper to buy, return better mpg figures and have sub-100g/km emission levels to boot.

The more expensive (19,545) and slightly larger Toyota Auris Hybrid has emissions of only 89g/km and that returns an official 74.3mpg.

Petrol and diesel Hybrids, plug-in Hybrids and all-electric powered vehicles are becoming more and more commonplace and we will have to embrace them but in reality the latest generation petrol and diesel engines can be just as fuel and CO2 efficient, so the current hard financial choice will be even harder in the future.

As always, being a Honda, the Jazz is well built and feels very solid. The suspension changes mean a more comfortable ride still not perfect, but better. The steering now offers a little more feedback and its agility and light touch means the Jazz is easy to drive in traffic and compact to park.

A big omission, though, is the lack of parking sensors as standard if you want them, be prepared to pay an extra 600 for nose and tail protection. Indeed, it's well worth including in your financial calculations the standard-fit items and what it costs to move up the specification range. A fully 'specced' Hybrid HX weighs in at a costly 17,995.

However, even the lowest Hybrid specification includes CVT, air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, electrically-operated and heated door mirrors, on-board computer, paddle-shift gear selector, full complement of airbags and safety equipment, remote locking, Hill Start Assist and 15-inch steel wheels.

Plus points: roomy supermini, flexible interior with easy-fold rear seats and flat load floor, petrol/Hybrid power source works well with the CVT auto transmission, good fuel economy potential and low taxation costs.

Against? The Jazz Hybrid is expensive to buy against new lower emission petrol and diesel models, its CO2 emissions are higher than most ECO superminis, it misses exemption from the London Congestion Charge and parking sensors as not fitted as standard.

So while the latest Jazz is much improved, the Hybrid versions carry a hefty price penalty and new-generation petrol and diesel competitor models are cheaper to buy and to run. David Miles

Honda Jazz 1.3 i-VTEC HE Hybrid CVT
| 15,995
Maximum speed: 109mph | 0-62mph: 12.3 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 58.1mpg
Power: 87+14bhp | Torque: 89+57lb ft | CO2 104g/km