All-new Honda Jazz: high-tech hybrid leads the charge
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The fourth-generation Jazz is taking Honda back to its roots of cutting-edge hybrid technology, with the $35,000 Luxe flagship of the range just launched in New Zealand featuring an “e:HEV” powertrain.
The Jazz Luxe’s e:HEV consists of a 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine (72kW/127Nm) and lithium-ion battery coupled with an electric motor (80kW/253Nm). A new e-CVT transmission and intelligent control until provide a range of different driving modes; Honda claims fuel economy of just 2.84l/100km.
In most urban driving, the powertrain switches automatically between EV Drive and Hybrid Drive.
On paper at least (we’re yet to drive it), the Jazz Luxe is very different to your average hybrid. In EV Drive it operates as a range extender, the petrol engine running to charge the battery pack, which in turn powers the electric motor that drives the wheels.
In Hybrid Drive, the engine supplied power to the generator motor, which is turn supplies it to the electric motor to drive the wheels. The key difference in this mode is that excess power from the petrol engine can be diverted to recharge the battery. It also switches to EV Drive during braking and deceleration to harvest energy that would otherwise be lost.
If that sounds complicated, there’s no need to really think about it. The car switches automatically between modes and Honda claims the transition is not noticeable by the occupants.
There’s a third mode, Engine Drive, which is used mainly for open-road and motorway driving. The petrol engine is connected directly to the wheels via a lock-up clutch, with an additional boost available from the electric system when required for stronger acceleration or overtaking.
Despite the packaging requirements of the e:HEV hardware, the Jazz Luxe retains Honda’s Magic Seat cabin configuration. Both the propulsion and generator motors are integrated into the engine compartment, as is the Power Control Unit (PCU), which Honda says is 20 per cent smaller than previous technology. The 12v auxiliary battery also fits under the bonnet, meaning there is still space at the rear for Honda’s signature folding seats.
Luggage capacity is 298 litres with the rear seats in place, but rises to 1199 litres when folded. Magic Seat allows both fold-flat or flip-up flexibility, the latter giving a taller load area. The tailgate has a wider opening and now features a “stepless” flat floor for easier loading.
As with previous models, Honda claims remarkable rear-seat legroom – 986mm – combined with extra comfort, as the hinges for Magic Seat have now been moved out of the passenger hip points.
Aside from the e:HEV powertrain, the Luxe features a number of firsts for Jazz. It has Honda’s Sensing suite of active safety features (already familiar from Civic and CR-V), factory leather upholstery with heated seats, auto folding mirrors, walk –away auto-lock and automatic high-beam headlights.
The Luxe is part of a new Jazz range that also comprises an entry-level $28,000 Life hatch and another first for Jazz, the $30,000 SUV-style Crosstar. The latter wears a different grille, extra black trim, side sills, roof rails and bespoke alloy wheels that widen towards the rim.
All Jazz models now feature 10 airbags, including two rear restraints installed in the front seats and a centre airbag installed in the front seat.