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honda jazz hybrid review charged up for a better economy

Honda Jazz Hybrid review: Charged up for a better economy

This is the car that gives you the right to park in ‘green zone’ parking lots

Christopher Ng Photo

Christopher Ng

27 Apr 2018

One look at the shifter knob and you’ll know that this Honda Jazz isn’t just another page in the same song book. In spite having the same face, body and furniture of the regular Jazz, the Jazz Hybrid strikes a vastly different chord. 

You see, where the regular Jazz moves with its powertrain paired with a CVT gearbox, the Jazz Hybrid poodles around town with its powertrain partnered with a Honda’s own seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which the maker calls i-DCD. Interestingly enough, the Hyundai Ioniq also puts forth the same drivetrain combination with similar levels of effectiveness. 

The first thing you’ll won’t notice about the i-DCD is the sound it makes when you’re cruising at speed or putting the hatchback in full gallop, of which there’s none. The i-DCD becomes the magic pill that eliminates the monotonous droning of the CVT, instantly quietens the ride while at the same time upping levels of comfort. 

Although having a dual-clutch gearbox invokes thoughts of making the Jazz Hybrid sportier, the lack of paddle shifters or any simple manual interface for that matter is disappointing, which completely eliminates thoughts of whipping the engine for more oomph. The only thing that makes up for this is that ’S’ button on the transmission console. ’S’, if you haven’t figured out yet, stands for sport and hitting that button will tell the gears to hold revs longer before up-shifting so more power can be extracted from the combined powertrain. 

So, the Jazz Hybrid becomes peppier than its combustion-engined counterpart, summoning its combined power output of 137hp and 170Nm but the ’S’ isn’t a super serum that turns this hatchback into a hot hatch. This is still a car built for economy.

In that sense, Jazz Hybrid gets some of its power from a 108hp/134Nm 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine set on an Atkinson cycle for fuel efficiency.  Drive as one normally would and you’ll extract about 600km from that tiny, 40-litre fuel tank. Press the accelerator properly and you'll yield a fuel economy of somewhere close to Honda's published 4.0l/100km, or 25km/l. 

If that proves to be a challenge, the Jazz Hybrid helps by spoon-feeding real-time information on how efficient your current driving behaviour is, be it by a bar chart or miniaturised Jazz that lives in your dashboard. Hitting the ECON button, which most Honda owners are familiar with now, to make the drive even more eco-friendlier. There’s effectiveness in its simplicity.

Improvements on the mileage happen with the ECON button activated, something all owners of newer Honda vehicles are familiar with. Sure, it’ll put a damper on the acceleration but you’ll outlast a lot of the cars on the road.

Cruising at a low speed will encourage the Jazz Hybrid to pull power from the battery and the 30hp/160Nm electric motor instead of the combustion engine. Even more appealing is the fact that you don’t have to burn fuel to look for a parking spot; the Jazz Hybrid just pootles around on the sole power of the electric motors. 

It is a sportier hatchback all-around, even when you’re driving it in its default setting; even when you stack the Hybrid against the rest of the Jazz’s line up. The improved suspension doesn’t make the ride that much harder but the new-found firmness lets the hatchback ‘jazz’ through corners with a dash more enthusiasm and joy. 

The one thing that Honda didn’t change with the Jazz Hybrid is its ability to gobble up many things. Its seats can be origami-ed into multiple configurations that gives you the freedom to transport many things. Smaller items can find a home in one of many cupholders that Honda have designed into the Jazz. Jazz Hybrid’s cavernous interior also lets occupants ride with ample legroom to stretch out.

In many ways, the Jazz Hybrid lets you run around town and country in comfort with minimal impact on the environment for the simple fact that you’re emitting fewer carbons into the atmosphere.

But for most of us in Malaysia, we don’t care about climate change and odd weather pattern. In a way, we’re very much like Mr. Trump and his cabinet of wise ministers. We care more about the price of fuel, how much a full tank costs and how far it will take us. Although we have a money-first, environment-second mindset for now, at least adopters of the Honda Jazz will be ready for a future where carbon emission will be counted as diligently as calories. Either way, the Jazz Hybrid future proofs on all mobility fronts.

P.S. Having a hybrid car gives you a free passport to park an ‘green zone’ parking lots.

Honda Jazz Hybrid



4-cyl, 16 valves, DOHC, i-VTEC


7-Speed dual-clutch

Front-wheel drive


137hp / 170Nm

Engine: 108hp@6000rpm / 134Nm@5,000rpm Motor: 22kW@1,313-2,000rpm / 160Nm@0-1,313rpm


4.0l/100km or (25km/l)



(on-the-road without insurance)

Overall Rating

7_5 Rating