Honda Jazz Hybrid driven

* UK's cheapest hybrid tested * Hybrid emits 104g/km of CO2 * Costs from £15,995...

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What Car? Staff
10 December 2010

Honda Jazz Hybrid driven

What is it?

The new Honda Jazz Hybrid is the smallest and cheapest hybrid car in the UK. It uses the same 87bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine, 14bhp electric motor and continuously variable transmission (CVT) as its larger sibling the Insight, which give an average fuel economy of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 104g/km.

That makes it easily the greenest model in the Jazz range. However, we're surprised Honda didn't manage to get the Jazz to creep under the magic 100g/km mark, especially given that larger albeit more expensive hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and Auris Hybrid pump out as little as 89g/km.

Failing to limbo under 100g/km means the Jazz won't be exempt from London's congestion charge when the qualifying criteria are changed in January. Honda rightly points out that not everyone drives in London, but it is big towns and cities where hybrids work most effectively.

What is it like to drive?

The launch of this hybrid version coincides with some other revisions to the Jazz range, which Honda says improve the ride and handling of the car. On the road, though, the changes don't make a huge difference.

Like other versions of the Jazz, the Hybrid suffers from an overly firm ride, and its steering is vague and slow-witted. Plenty of wind- and road noise make their way into the cabin as the speed increases, too.

The CVT gearbox doesn't help matters: if you need to accelerate quickly the revs soar and stay there until you're up to speed, and that makes an almighty racket.

What is it like inside?

The Jazz has always been one of the most practical superminis, and the good news is the hybrid system doesn't really compromise that.

The 'magic' rear seats which offer multiple seating layouts are just as clever as in the standard Jazz.

The Hybrid's boot is ever-so-slightly smaller than those in the rest of the Jazz range, but you'd barely notice the difference and there's still loads more space inside than in most supermini rivals.

Interior quality isn't a strong point, though. The hard, scratchy plastics on the dashboard, centre console and the insides of the doors feel disappointingly cheap.

How much will it cost?

This might the cheapest hybrid in the UK, but it still starts at £15,995. That's top whack for a supermini. You could, for example, buy a VW Polo Bluemotion instead and save yourself nearly £1000.

The entry-level HE model isn't all that well equipped, either. You miss out on alloys wheels and cruise control, although you do get climate control and four electric windows.

For those things you'll need to fork out another £500 for HS trim, which also adds an alarm, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, electric folding door mirrors and automatic lights and wipers.

The top-of-the-range HX version costs £17,995 and adds leather seats, a panoramic glass roof, Bluetooth and a USB socket.

What Car? says

The most affordable hybrid yet, but equivalent diesels are cheaper, more economical and pump out less CO2.