The new Honda Jazz gets hybrid drive and a rugged look to boost its appeal – our exclusive images preview how it could look
Honda’s small car line-up is set to receive a much-needed shot in the arm at the end of the year, when the new fourth-generation Jazz takes to the stage at October’s Tokyo Motor Show. And as Honda looks to electrify its model range, the new Jazz will be hybrid only.
While previous versions of the Jazz have sported an upright MPV-like appearance, the next-generation car will have mini SUVs like the SEAT Arona and Citroen C3 Aircross in its sights. This will help to broaden its appeal, courtesy of a chunky SUV-inspired design.
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As our exclusive images show, that means the front will feature larger, bolder headlamp units, a more prominent grille, and a front bumper that’s finished in black around its lower edges. Roof rails will appear for the first time on a Jazz, and that dark trim will continue around the side, where the wheelarch cladding will lend the car a rough and ready look.
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Spy shots have also revealed that around the back, the previous Jazz’s vertically stacked lights will be ditched for more conventional horizontal units sitting beneath the rear window. Chunky body cladding will bring a more rugged look, too. The rear hatch will cut deep into the back bumper – as on the previous model – so there will be a generous opening for loading bulky items into the boot.
Despite its chunky-looking dimensions, the Jazz will measure around four metres long – much the same as more conventional superminis – so it won’t grow significantly in size over the outgoing model.
However, beneath the skin the new Jazz is expected to sit on an all-new platform, which will bring greater gains in practicality and also allow Honda to squeeze in the advanced hybrid technology that the company is beginning to roll out.
The firm can consider itself among the pioneers of hybrid tech; its first production petrol/electric car, the Insight, went on sale back in 1999. As part of Honda’s plan to electrify its entire range by 2025, the next Jazz will benefit from electrical assistance to improve fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. Honda insiders have suggested that this will be the first Jazz to do away completely with traditional combustion-powered petrol and diesel options and go hybrid-only.
This time around, the Jazz hybrid is set to use 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.
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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.
Inside, the new Jazz is going to take a significant leap forward in terms of both design and tech. Early glimpses of the cabin show a large infotainment screen sitting proud of the upper sweep of the dashboard. Below it sit three large, round dials to adjust the climate control functions. The overall appearance should provide a major step up in perceived quality compared with the current model.
Thanks to its tall body and clever use of interior space, the last Jazz scored strongly on practicality. And this new model is almost certain to retain Honda’s Magic Seats system – consisting of a sliding rear bench and an upward-folding seat squab which opens a footwell-to-ceiling space.
What will the new Honda Jazz have to beat? Check out our list of the best superminis still on sale…
For an alternative review of the latest Honda Jazz Hatchback visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk