Honda’s all-new Jazz supermini will reach the UK market later this year, sporting a fresh platform, new tech and hybrid drive
The all-new Honda Fit, better known to UK motorists as the Honda Jazz, is due to go on sale during the summer of this year, with a new platform, a host of fresh technology and a two-motor e:HEV hybrid drive system. Honda even plans to release an unusual Jazz Crosstar crossover variant, in an attempt to muscle-in on the Nissan Juke’s territory.
The design of the new, standard-issue Jazz will be familiar to existing owners. Like the old model, it features a one-box MPV-like shape, which Honda says maximises interior space. The A-pillars have also been slimmed down, in a move that both improves the view out of the windscreen and increases the rigidity of the bodyshell.
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Up front, there’s a pair of larger headlamp units and a chunkier bumper compared to its predecessor. However, the standard Jazz is expected to maintain similar dimensions to the old model, measuring around 4 metres in length.
Around the back, the previous Jazz’s vertically stacked lights have been ditched in favour of more conventional horizontal units sitting beneath the rear window. The rear hatch cuts deep into the back bumper – as on the previous model – so there should be a generous opening for loading bulky items into the boot.
Things get a little more rugged with the Jazz Crosstar model, which features new bolt-on roof rails, a unique front grille design, an elevated ride height and black plastic cladding around its wheel arches that contribute to its mini-SUV flavour. Honda also informs us that the Crosstar’s interior features “water-resistant upholstery,” presumably in case you exceed the car’s maximum wading depth, or spill your cappuccino.
Honda e:HEV hybrid system
Perhaps the highlight of the updated Jazz range is Honda’s new e:HEV twin-motor petrol hybrid powertrain. The Jazz e:HEV will be both the first Honda to use the new technology and the first model to receive Honda’s latest e:Technology branding, which will eventually feature on all of the Japanese brand’s electrified products.
Precise details on the e:HEV system remain scarce but Honda claims to have prioritised the easy driving experience that the Jazz has been known for in the past as well as efficiency gains.
We expect that the system will employ a similar configuration to the ‘intelligent Multi-Mode Drive’ (i-MMD) set-up used by the CR-V SUV. As a result, in typical driving situations the combustion engine will be put to use as a generator, and rather than driving the wheels directly, it sends charge to an electric motor, which tops up a small battery.
When more performance is needed, the engine can drive the wheels directly via a fixed-ratio gearbox. Although the larger CR-V uses a 2.0-litre engine in its hybrid system, we expect that the Jazz will use a much lower-capacity combustion unit, because of its smaller size and lower weight.
In addition, Honda has confirmed that no purely petrol or diesel engines will be offered in the new Jazz, due to the company’s stated aim of offering a completely electrified model range in Europe by 2022.
Inside the new Jazz
Inside, Honda has looked to retain the previous Jazz model’s impressive cabin space while adding more advanced technology. The hybrid drive system has been located within the chassis and the engine bay with the fuel tank mounted in the middle of the car to avoid impacting on the room available for passengers.
The cabin gets a central display screen with three large physical air-conditioning controls below and a digital instrument cluster ahead of the driver. Honda tells us that the touchscreen offers smartphone-style swipe controls and that both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are built in. For the first time, these and other downloadable apps will be operable in the car via a wireless connection.
The Jazz gets new seating, too, with wider ‘body-stabilising’ front seats that are designed to reduce fatigue on longer journeys and new deeper rear seats to boost comfort for those in the back. Honda’s popular Magic Seat design also remains in the rear, giving owners the option of folding the rear bench backs flat or flipping the bases up to create a taller load space.
On the safety front, there’s an enhanced system of sensors with a high definition camera forming the basis of the Honda Sensing active safety suite. This enables an improved Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS), which can now detect pedestrians and cyclists at night and react to oncoming vehicles moving into the path of the Jazz. In addition, the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system can now operate in low speed traffic, keeping the car in lane and maintaining distance to the car in front.
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