Yes, this is a Honda hybrid but it’s also a totally new system, named E:HEV. It doesn’t officially stand for anything, but HEV obviously means ‘hybrid electric vehicle.’
As explained in our news story, it’s different from existing hybrid systems whether it’s Toyota’s ‘normal’ hybrid setup, or Nissan’s E-Power system. A standard hybrid system – we see on Toyotas for example – sees the engine and electric motor working together in all situations depending on what’s required. For Honda’s E:HEV system, the electric motor drives the car at speeds of up to and around 80km/h. When required, the engine tops up the battery to drive the car – in other words, it’s like a Note E-Power. But above 80km/h, the engine drives the car directly through a single-speed gear, like an overdrive on a normal gearbox. The benefits are using the motor and engine in situations where they are most effective, and also ditches the need for a gearbox. Honda says there’s an e-CVT, but there isn’t really a conventional gearbox. Because it’s either the engine or motor moving the car, there’s no combined hybrid system output.
But techno-wizardry-because-we-can aside, does it work in Singapore? Yes, it’s efficient enough to give Toyota’s hybrids strong competition.
Over a 150km run, the Jazz delivered a combined fuel consumption of 4.3L/100km. That doesn’t sound impressive, but this was done without using Econ mode (deadens throttle response), and included our very inefficient video and photo shoots. A run without the latter brought 3.7L/100km – better than the car’s claimed fuel consumption. Honda’s system also seems to work well on highways, with a run on the AYE and PIE giving around 3.0L/100km and sometimes better.
Our guess is, average people will do low to sub 4.0L/100km driving in a restrained manner. With VES stacking the cards against non-hybrid cars, and with the Jazz this good at sipping fuel we tell Honda Japan this: All your models should have an official hybrid version.
As for its actual driving characteristics, in city driving it’s mostly silent electric running, with the instant 253Nm of the motor great for quick maneuvers, especially since it’s paired with the typical Jazz handling – neat, quick, and oh so easy to manage. The kick-in of the inline four cylinder engine is noticeable, but it’s not as obvious as the Note E-Power’s three-cylinder unit, or even the Kia Niro’s 1.6 inline four. If the Jazz is this frugal, it bodes very well for the next HR-V small SUV, which will also use the system, and also the next-gen Civic.
Honda claims multiple improvements to refinement, and the Jazz is certainly more refined than it used to be, with less road noise overall. However it now gains a little more thump over bumps, and it can get a little crashy over longer stretches of roughness.
But on the whole, it’s a near perfect city runabout. The new windscreen and A-pillar design deliver superb visibility – important in the age of Nourishment Ursines – and the car’s as easy to park as it always has been, even without the rearview camera.