by Sandy Myhre
The new Honda Jazz took a little bit of time to get to New Zealand because Europe was given precedence. But arrive it has and by all accounts is proving just as popular as ever.
The small car market is reducing and some car models no longer exist while some have been pared back. The Jazz, however, has a healthy and strong following. We took a look at the Luxe, the top-of-the-range e-HEV with the all-important hybrid power unit.
HEVs don’t qualify for the Government’s rebate scheme for some unfathomable reason but as the salesperson at Northland Honda said, they are well-priced anyway. At $35,000 + ORC it’s getting up there, but still within shouting distance of being, well, economical.
The new Honda hybrid system inverts the old system (where a small electric motor is used to boost the engine) and turns it on its head. The petrol motor is paired with two electric motors, one a generator and the other a propulsion unit. The 1.5 engine spins the generator while the propulsion unit spins the wheels. Clever, huh?
But there’s more. Regenerative braking helps top up the lithium ion battery which is positioned under the floor. These key differences with the Honda HEV system means the Jazz is incredibly efficient and incredibly light on petrol fuel consumption. No, you can’t plug it in but, really, it’s not that important.
Since its inception four generations ago, since 2001, the Jazz has what’s known as a Magic Seat. It’s a clever rear-chair folding system that takes advantage of the car’s flat floor by providing a variety of cargo-carrying options. There are 18 possible seat configurations. This is a unique selling point for Honda and one that’s working for them.
There are other distinctly Honda-isms, lifestyle features if you like. There are large cupholders on the dashboard, full-length padded armrests, phone pockets in the rear of the car, a leather dashboard insert and something called anti-fatigue technology with “new seat frame and improved lumbar for all-day driving comfort” to quote the brochure.
The 9” touchscreen has Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto connectivity. For someone who doesn’t like touchscreens (me, because they are hard to keep clean) there are steering wheel mounted controls.
The Jazz has all the acronyms you can muster and LDW and LDM (lane departure warning and mitigation). There’s something called RDM (road departure mitigation) but by the time you’ve departed the road hopefully the mitigating factor to help protect you will be the SRS (supplementary restraint system). In other words, the airbag.
On the road the Jazz performs delightfully. It just does everything so well. Yes, there are the lane departure warning systems which can be turned off, which is recommended but overall, it’s a winner.
This fourth-gen Jazz hybrid is a frugal way of getting around crowded cities and you don’t have to charge it up every few days. It combines efficiency with practicality, it’s a car for all seasons.
Honda clearly didn’t see the need to upsize the Jazz and thank goodness for that. It doesn’t need to be bigger, it’s extremely useful as it is. It is well designed, comfortable, and well thought-out. Thoroughly recommended.