Honda Jazz Hybrid 2014 review

19 Jul, 2013 3:00am Peter Lyon

We try out a prototype of the new-look Honda Jazz Hybrid. Production Jazz release date spring 2014

Verdict

4
The Jazz’s new look won’t be to everyone’s taste, but few people will criticise it once behind the wheel. It steers, rides and handles better than ever, and the new dual-clutch box is a big step up from the noisy CVT. The superb claimed economy will make this Hybrid cheap to run, and the interior is bigger than before. Let’s just hope quality gets a boost.

Since its launch in 2001, the Honda Jazz hasn’t been changed drastically. But that’s about to change for 2014 with the third-generation Jazz, which benefits from a dramatic new look, an increase in dimensions and the addition to the range of a hybrid version.

We got an exclusive chance to try a prototype of the new Jazz (called the Fit in Japan) months ahead of its official debut. Honda is pinning its hopes largely on the car’s revamped styling, which could prove divisive. It looks better in the flesh than in photos, though, with a wide new front end taken from the FCX Clarity fuel cell car, as well as a set of tall tail-lights.

Honda Jazz review (current model)

The challenge for the designers was to create styling that looked fresh and provided stronger road presence, but also maintained the previous model’s practicality. The wheelbase has in fact grown by around 50mm, but Honda has yet to reveal the exact figure.

On our drive, we did a few test track laps in the 1.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid with a new dual-clutch box, plus the 1.3 petrol with a CVT. Both engines now come with twin cams for better throttle response, while the suspension has been drastically revised to improve cornering and high-speed stability.

The new Jazz was heavily benchmarked against the current Volkswagen Polo and tested extensively in Germany. On the road, these revisions are immediately obvious. You sit marginally lower than before, and you can feel the car’s improved stability from the off. The Jazz also feels bigger and sturdier than its predecessor, but turns in eagerly with virtually no understeer and plenty of feedback through the wheel. There’s not much body roll for such a high-sided car, and the tyres grip well in tight corners.

A diesel will be offered in Europe, but as before the hybrid will be the flagship, combining a 1.5-litre petrol engine, electric motor and all-new intelligent dual-clutch box. This generates plenty of power – with 133bhp and 170Nm of torque – and has a claimed economy figure of approximately 85mpg, while sub-90g/km CO2 emissions make it a match for the diesel-powered Ford Fiesta ECOnetic.

The seven-speed box gives quick changes and allows more than adequate acceleration, and as you press on, a surprisingly sporty exhaust note fills the cabin. However, Honda appears to have thrown most of its budget at getting the handling and ride right. This means that, in the prototype at least, interior design and quality have suffered. So while the dash is simple and functional, it’s not in the same class as the Polo’s for materials, trim and build – although Honda claims that things will be much improved by the time the car arrives in the UK next spring.

Disqus - noscript

Please AE
1. Don't give star ratings to prototypes (really for anything at all whilst we are on the subject).
2. Try to avoid working a reference to VW into every review.
3. If you must give a puff to VW stuff every time just remember that in the 2013 J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey the Jazz came 6th. and the Polo 55th.
P.S. I own neither a Jazz nor a Polo.

I didn't realise this came with a dual clutch gearbox. Interesting.

The Polo reference came from Honda itself. I read an interview with the engineer who was responsible for its development and he went on and on about how the new Jazz was benchmarked against the Polo.
I would like to see a version with the new Honda1.6 diesel.... now that would be a cracker.

No offence to the Honda owners. To my eye this new Jazz looks like Honda grafted Civic's front on the Hyundai IX20's body.

I think it looks just that little bit better than the outgoing model and may help Honda cut its buyer's age by a decade at least.

What on earth are they putting in the water of some of these Japanese designers? Honda are clearly trying to win the battle with Toyota to design the most 80's interior. Is it a misguided attempt at retro? Is it in the design brief to develop a new version of a car that makes the old one more attractive? Civic, RAV4, Auris, Yaris, and now Jazz. The list of Japanese design suicide goes grows...

Actually, I'd like to restrict my observations to Toyota and Honda, not all Japanese. The latest Mazdas look great and the new Nissan note is an improvement.

Read this review once more. It has an absolutely typical journalistic paragraph of the "never mind the quality of the chassis engineering stroke the dashboard plastic" kind. No engineer would come out with this sort of stuff. Of course the engineer would be comparing his vehicle with the competition but the paragraph concerned suggests AE are at their old tricks again!

Hmm, sorry but I think the Auris is very smart and a real step forward over the previous version. The interior is nothing special, but overall a good looking car.
As for the new Jazz, I'm not sure by what I see here, although I will reserve judgement until I see it in the flesh.

Haven't seen an elegant Honda for so many years, and this isn't going to help the design mojo's return.

These current Honda designers seem to have a death wish. They design ever more hideous vehicles, ie the Civic and now this!

Good Grief - that interior is truly dreadful.

The official MPG figure is over 100. The 85 is a figure for the USA where gallons are smaller. I have a 2011 CVT Jazz which is smooth and economical - 47mpg overall. The one flaw is it is a little lethargic off the line. The new dual clutch and much more power should cure that.

hope the asymmetric wind screen wipers are improved as useless on the passenger side of the current Jazz.

Key specs

  • Price: £18,500 (est)
  • Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, electric motor
  • Power/torque: 133bhp (combined)/170Nm
  • Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel-drive
  • 0-62mph/top speed: 10.2 seconds/120mph (est)
  • Economy/CO2: 85mpg/85g/km (est)
  • Equipment: 15-inch alloys, LEDs, dual-zone clim. control, Bluetooth
  • On sale: Spring 2014
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