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Is an economical hybrid powertrain enough to make the latest Jazz hit the high notes?

They say it’s lonely at the top but, for the subject of this week’s road test, the Honda Jazz, the same can equally be true towards the other end of the scale.

Indeed, the hybrid superminis of the world is a group that counts this new Honda Jazz, the latest Toyota Yaris and the recently released Renault Clio E-Tech as its only members.

Remains a car that many a motoring journalist will recommend to others but very few would own. Its packaging and efficiency really are marvels; but these are the things that sell white goods, not cars

Conceptually, the Jazz has always been defined by its ‘functionality first’ ethos and ingenious interior packaging. Since its 2001 launch, the relatively compact Honda’s exceptional practicality and versatility have helped it to win favour with more than five million buyers around the globe. Historically, Europe hasn’t been Honda’s largest market, but the third-generation Jazz was nonetheless a strong performer for the brand. Between 2015 and 2019, it typically accounted for about 25% of Honda Europe’s total sales.

With greater future success in mind and in a bid to keep pace with ever-tightening emissions regulations, a crucial change has been made for this fourth-generation car. Where the Jazz was once offered with a choice of busy small-capacity petrol and diesel engines, Honda will now sell it across Europe exclusively with a newly developed petrol-electric powertrain. With so few hybrid competitors, Honda will hope that such a move makes the car stand out from the crowd that bit better.

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But a niche approach is no guarantee of success in the wider market, or in the Autocar road test. And with the Yaris’s new-found form enabling it to put on a very good showing on these pages only a couple of weeks ago, any slip-ups from the Honda should be readily apparent.

The Jazz line-up at a glance

Just like the latest Toyota Yaris, the new Honda Jazz is offered exclusively as a hybrid in the UK.

The standard Jazz is available in three trim levels, with SE representing the entry level, SR the mid-range and the EX specification of our test car the range-topping grade. Honda will also sell you a Honda Jazz Crosstar, which comes with a raised ride height and some additional body cladding that’s intended to make it look a bit more off-road friendly.


Honda Jazz First drives