Sunday July 29, 2012
Clean and green
Review by CHERYL POO
Turns out the new Jazz Hybrid isn’t just fuel efficient; it’s really woman-friendly as well.
LIKE most women, my expectations of cars are relatively basic.
As long as the vehicle is clean and comfy, looks reasonably sharp and can get me safely to my destination, I’m a happy clam.
It was with these simple requirements that I accepted the opportunity to test drive the eco-friendly Honda Jazz Hybrid powered by a combination of a 1.3l i-VTEC engine and a 14hp electric motor, featuring the Honda Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. The car’s underbody was exclusively developed to achieve the right balance to accommodate the IMA.
I must say I had quite an enjoyable weekend with it.
With the car costing RM94,800 and boasting fuel economy, buyers can expect to make long-term fuel savings with this car that was launched in Malaysia in March.
Although a month’s drive would have been a better time-frame to gauge petrol consumption, I did find the fuel indicator slow to dip despite travelling back and forth between Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, Selangor, several times over the weekend.
I reckon the five-door hatchback Jazz Hybrid should probably give me quite a few more extra kilometres compared to my own car (a 1.5l Ford Laser Lynx), and help with fuel savings in the long run.
According to Honda Malaysia, this sleek vehicle consumes 25% to 30% less fuel compared with a conventional 1.5l Jazz variant while offering similar performance. This car can go 21.3km on a litre of petrol. The Eco Assist function is supposed to aid drivers in getting maximum mileage from their car.
With the alarming rise in robberies and snatch thefts that target stalled cars, I’d be relieved to spend less time at the petrol kiosk. Having said that, I did feel a little insecure driving around with just a tyre repair kit instead of a spare tyre in the boot.
If I were to use the Jazz Hybrid for city driving, I wouldn’t worry too much about the tyre issue, but long-distance travelling might be a problem as it might be hours before help arrives.
The Jazz Hybrid does not lose out in terms of boot space compared with the non-hybrid version, but the spare tyre area is taken up by the vehicle’s Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) and IMA battery pack. Generally, the car has retained the key features of the Jazz such as ultra seat, paddle shift and large boot space.
A rather distracting fuel consumption indicator on the instrument panel constantly reminds you of how economically you are driving. The “Econ” driving mode allows for smoother low cruising speed.
I didn’t have a problem with that, nor the slightly inert mode that the vehicle would get into at a push of the “Econ” button, but I did mind the air-conditioner compressor unit shutting down automatically with the engine at traffic lights in order to conserve fuel. It was fine at night, but certainly not on a hot afternoon! Deactivate the “Econ” mode and the air conditioner shuts down less frequently.
The snappy metallic lime shade of the eco-conscious car suited me just fine. Other new colour choices for the Hybrid are Alabaster Silver, Milano Red, Crystal Black Pearl and Taffeta White.
Overall, the Jazz Hybrid’s external features – such as the chrome grille with blue reflector, chrome rear garnish and red LED lights with a blue highlight – give the car a sporty, slightly futuristic look. It also has 15-inch alloy wheels, multi-information display and Charge Assist indicator.
Initially, I’d found the ride a touch too bumpy for my liking but my grouse was short-lived, after discovering that the vehicle’s power steering and wide-angle radius made awkward turns possible and quick, especially when making three-point turns in narrow passages.
In spite of its narrow build, the car’s interior was quite spacious and comfortable; I’d give it four out of five stars for roominess. Enhanced safety features include six airbags and an intelligent Hill-Start Assist function, that helps roll back when starting from a stop on a hill.
The creators of the vehicle truly seemed to have women in mind, when you consider the many compartments available for stowing gadgets and drinks.
I suppose if the Japanese knew just how prevalent car crimes are in some countries, they might have fashioned the interior in a way that would allow the driver and passenger to stow their bags beneath their seats. Perhaps, in the future, there would be a feature to accommodate this need.
The whole point of this variant lies in its green goodness, and given its low carbon emission and better fuel economy, I’d say going hybrid is the way to drive.