In-depth reviews

Honda Jazz - Engines, performance and drive

The Jazz is available with a single hybrid engine option, offering solid performance and superb fuel economy

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

3.5 out of 5

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Honda has bypassed the recent trend for small capacity turbocharged engines and gone straight to hybrid power in the fourth-generation Jazz. Although, true to its engineering form, the manufacturer hasn’t opted for the most straightforward of powertrain set-ups.

Called e:HEV, the system includes a 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and two electric motors. A 2023 update brought with it a bump in power for both the engine and electric motors, which now produce 106bhp and 120bhp respectively.

To make the most of the complex hybrid set-up, the Jazz includes three driving modes: EV mode runs the car solely on electric power, and would normally be used when moving off from a standstill or when travelling at low speed. In Hybrid Drive, the petrol engine and electric motor work together to achieve optimum power and fuel economy, while the car will opt for Engine Drive mode at cruising speeds, relying exclusively on the petrol engine.

Honda has also made some tweaks to the CVT transmission to help improve its responsiveness, with the Sport model featuring unique settings that are meant to make it feel more responsive still. That version also features stiffer front suspension and firmer dampers all round to boost its handling.

But the Jazz is really at its best at lower speeds, with its light steering and agile chassis making it easy to manoeuvre and well suited to urban life. We did find the car’s ride a little on the firm side, but it’s not harsh, and we like that the Jazz tends to favour quiet electric drive in town. We also noticed that the Jazz will operate a surprising amount of the time in EV mode at higher speeds, where the hybrid-only supermini feels comfortable and stable. 

It’s even pretty decent on a back road, with its quick steering helping to make it feel responsive in the corner, plus the relatively firm suspension mitigating body roll. However, if you apply any more than two-thirds throttle, the CVT sends the engine’s revs soaring, producing plenty of noise in the process, but not much additional forward motion.

If you’re after more driving fun, then it’s probably best to look towards either the MINI hatchback or Renault Clio, while you might find a 2023 Ford Fiesta model still available from stock following its axe from the Blue Oval lineup earlier in the year.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

The 1.5 i-MMD (intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) hybrid engine combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine and two electric motors. One of the motors is designed to help with direct propulsion, while the other converts energy from the petrol engine into electricity which can be used straightaway or stored in the car’s lithium-ion battery.

The system actually produces a decent turn of speed; the Jazz reaches 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds, with Advance-spec cars taking a little longer at 9.6 seconds. The SUV-inspired Crosstar model requires 9.7 seconds to complete the same benchmark sprint. Top speed for all models is 109mph.

The electric motors boost the car’s responses when pulling away, while the powertrain favours electric drive the majority of the time. In fact, even when we were driving the Jazz in the 60-70mph range, we saw the green EV mode light illuminate. The engine will chime in as soon as you touch the throttle at those speeds though.

News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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