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Honda has added another hybrid to local roads by applying its integrated motor assist (IMA) system to the new Jazz. IMA is a superb choice for South Africa, where the infrastructure does not yet exist to support alternative fuel vehicles and systems that require recharging from an external power source.
The Jazz joins the CR-Z and Insight range of hybrids already available in the country – and it shares some of the qualities demonstrated by these variants. It is spacious enough for five occupants, features power windows, remote central locking, an MP3-capable sound system with USB port, air conditioning, cruise control, and electrically adjustable exterior mirrors.
Its hatch design gives it the flexibility of a compact car that make it ideal for city living, while wheels set close to the corners make for a stable and comfortable ride. Curved body panels give it a friendly look and the upswept grille and fender a cheeky grin that make it easy to indentify as a member of the Honda family.
It’s a kind of magic
The cabin is so roomy that Honda has coined the term "magic seats" to describe the simple system of buttons and levers that provide a range of options for crating space when loading the vehicle.
I loaded four adults, myself and a boot of goods for a trip up the Cape West Coast and spent over three hours driving in comfort. There is plenty of legroom in the rear considering that the Jazz is just 3.9m long.
The car remained stable in crosswinds and at speeds up to 120km/h, though the sensitive steering did mean I had to keep both hands on the wheel at all times to prevent the car from wandering. Road noise at highway speeds is also excessive and drowns out conversation and mutes most of the sound from the audio system.
This makes the Jazz much more suited to city driving where speeds will rarely go above 80km/h. That’s not too say it isn’t capable of long distance travel – it just wouldn’t be my first choice for an extensive road trip.
Green for good, red for wrong
The IMA system makes use of the colour-theme system found in Honda’s other hybrids, with the instruments going from green to blue to red as fuel efficiency decreases and the need to charge the electric motor’s battery increases. The CR-Z and Insight instruments are bathed in light when this system is in use, but I prefer the Jazz and the fact that the jeweled markers on the speedometer are instead illuminated.
Colour-coded instruments and simple efficiency displays make it extremely easy to drive in a fuel-friendly manner. The fact that the accelerator uses a throttle-by-wire system also helps to avoid driving techniques that waste fuel.
The car is powered by Honda’s established 1.3-litre i-VTEC engine with a power output of 65kW and torque peak of 78Nm. The electric assist comes via a linear motor mounted between the engine and the transmission, with a maximum output of 10.kW and a torque boost that lifts the powertrain’s total output to 121Nm.
The IMA also makes the cruise control one of the most useful features on the Jazz. It is far more accurate in its fuel-consumption decisions than human input and makes short work of hills.
The system gives the car the performance of a model with a larger petrol engine, accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 12.2 seconds with a top speed of 174km/h. Fuel consumption is just 4.4 litres/100 km and CO2 emissions are 105g/km, bringing it well below the carbon tax threshold for new cars.
Tucks and tweaks
The new Jazz also has a few updates, like the darker dashboard in a single colour and chrome surrounds for the air vents. On the outside, the front and rear bumpers have also been redesigned to reduce drag and the hybrid version sports a grille, headlights and tail lamps with chrome blue surrounds.
- Honda Jazz Hybrid AT - R239 900
Price includes a three-year or 100 000km warranty and a four-year or 60 000km service plan.