There have been so many times where I have driven in a small car, which lacks all the features of a midrange car, but has all the nice extras. You know, those little things that make your drive so much more pleasurable.
Hybrid cars in South Africa are a little bit of a touchy subject. With so few models in the entry/midrange sector of the market, could it be that we just don’t care? If you think about it and I mean really think about it – hybrid cars do make a lot of sense. No, you can’t go and fiddle with the engine, fit a larger exhaust or one of those induction kits. Okay you can, but really, that is beside the point. What is the point? Greener, meaner and leaner. For a start, a car that averages fewer than 5l per 100km is almost unheard of. I don’t know when last I ever drove a car that is so fuel efficient and yet as more than enough power to overtake at freeway speeds.
The Honda Jazz Hybrid may be a little new to most of you, but it’s been around for a while now. The only other hybrid available currently that we could compare it to is the Toyota Prius and that’s almost a R100 000 more expensive. Toyota has plans for its Aurus Hybrid, but apparently that’s only next year.
Back on the subject; hopping into the Jazz you are greeted by a lovely leather multifunction steering wheel. So typically Honda with its angles, yet it’s very pleasing and comfortable in your hands. One touch driver windows, retracting mirrors, climate control, auto headlights and rain sensors are all standard in this very interesting model.
The Hybrid Jazz is a conventional 65kw, 1.4 (1.339cc) single overhead cam petrol engine with an electric motor. Producing an extra 10kw and 78nm, it also features Honda’s I-Vtec technology. This is mated to a 7 speed CVT gearbox that does the work perfectly to keep those fuel consumption numbers low. The ABS is also a standard feature, along with 6 airbags and its 5 star NCAP rating.
Honda’s have always been known for peaky, high revving engines. Truth be told, the Jazz is actually very different. In traffic, you spend most of your time around the 2000rpm mark as the gearbox keeps things moving along swiftly. The IMA system, with its battery charging on its driving cycle, makes sure that you have sufficient poke around for the times in need. The acceleration is almost turbo-like as you feel the extra torque surge in from the electric motor. There will always be a little bit of extra power available, providing the battery has enough charge in it. All this can be monitored via the on-board computer and it can be rather entertaining to see how much or how little fuel you can use.
On a short 20km drive we averaged 3.3l/100km, driving very, very and I mean very conservatively. On average, not paying attention to how you drive and keeping up with traffic, you should see around the 5.4l/100km mark. Not bad at all in my opinion.
The Jazz Hybrid has a feature called the Eco assist a push button system; this changes the colour of the dials as you drive. Blue meaning you are driving rather aggressively and you are not on a fuel saving cycle. If you treat the throttle a little lighter, this will eventually turn green for optimum fuel consumption. The Jazz also features the auto stop start feature that can be a little strange getting used to, but is naturally there to save you that little extra in fuel and be that little extra kinder to the environment.
The in-dash CD player supports Mp3, WMA, also plays your Ipod or USB stick and the sound is pretty good for a car in this class. The dash facia feels well-made and solid – yet again, typically Honda. Space is impressive, especially in the rear. A 1.9m tall person should not have too much problem getting comfortable. The rear is also treated with a privacy glass tint. I’m not a fan of tinted windows, but this really suits the car, especially in our hot summers. The climate control works very well, and fortunately, I had the pleasure of testing it in our oh-so frequent 35 degree days. The dash gets a little hot, but once you set your temperature, it takes care of the rest. It not one of those; it’s too cold or too hot models. It just works, great.
Now, the price. Currently, there are no competitors in this field and, thus, the price of R244 000 might sound a little steep. It’s not too bad, considering the Jazz Executive petrol model of the same spec retails at R225 000. Also note that the Executive model will almost use twice the amount of fuel per 100km on an urban run. Do the math; the Jazz Hybrid comes out a winner. Test drive one today and see for yourself.