Hybrid vehicles were once considered a premium commodity in the motoring world. But Honda has decided to go against the flow by bringing us the new City and Jazz Hybrid, which now steals the crown of being Malaysia’s most affordable by segmentation. Could this be a breakthrough? KEEGAN DORAI takes them both on a drive to Terengganu to check it out.
words by KEEGAN DORAI
Take a drive out on the roads and the most apparent thing you’ll see whizzing alongside you, or in front, or behind, is a B-segment vehicle. They’re practically everywhere, and are there for a reason. It’s basically one of the biggest contributors to our automotive market that just fits the bill of many netizens’ motoring needs.
Could it be its appeal? Or the price tag that seems to be not much of a jump from a nationally-made car? Well that’s included alongside a steady list of strong selling-points as well. Take the Mazda2 for example. Which is best known for its subtle styling and great dynamics. Or the Ford Fiesta — a compact hatch or saloon that comes with European saloon-like road manners.
Then here comes the Proton Persona. A well-specced and properly-designed contender that wears a price tag and well-tuned chassis to lure the enthusiastic bunch in. Or the Toyota Vios. Basically a car that sells itself, whereby it doesn’t need any sales advisors in convincing anyone through a pretty bare spec sheet. Cause it just lacks so much in kit and ridiculously priced but the badge seems to be the ultimate drawing power.
To strike a fine balance in between these rivals, Honda is here to deliver us the new City and Jazz. One saloon, and another a hatch in appearance to broaden its market share. The recipe seems to be working rather well, garnering a huge response from a market segment that seems to grow rapidly year by year.
However, that’s not the end. The automaker is back once more at full force to elevate all matters possible in this challenging field by giving us the new City and Jazz Hybrid. Most notably in this case, Malaysia is currently the first country outside of Japan to receive such privilege in gaining purchasing access for the City Hybrid. A very special but well-needed proposition to leave the rest in the dust.
Best of all, the RM89,200 City Hybrid is currently rated as the most affordable hybrid saloon offering in the country — whereas its hatchback sibling — the Jazz Hybrid, takes the cake by being your first entry card to semi-electric motoring at a remarkable RM84,880. Yes, they’re more than just a bucket of bolts wearing an attractive price tag so lets get down to business.
"A very special but well-needed proposition to leave the rest in the dust."
HONDA CITY HYBRID
Practically the same winning formula that exchanges its original and yet conventional motor for a more tech-laden 1.5-litre hybrid powertrain, the City Hybrid pushes out a worthy 134bhp and 170Nm as a result in combined power output. Indeed, it definitely comes with a zestier performance figure that somehow claims to be as powerful as a conventional 1.8-litre naturally-aspirated engine by Honda themselves.
Thus in force, it drives and performs better than its run-off-the-mill sibling, albeit not really 1.8-litre like in execution. Paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle-shifters as combo, it simply overwrites all of the past shortcomings when it comes to at the wheel engagement. However, it does roll a wee bit more during cornering as the suspensions are aligned to a slightly softer setting.
Best of all, it overrides all of the firmness found in the non-hybrid variant. Returning a rather pliant and effective bump-absorbing feel while on the go. Steering feel — however — is slightly on the dead side, in this case. But in all due, the City Hybrid still musters that unusual Honda driving characteristics, in which it mixes a good balance in between good ride quality and respectable dynamics.
Despite holding a sizeable battery pack nestled closely behind the rear seats, the City Hybrid still suffices with its reputable class-leading bootspace of 536-litres. Though it lacks a full-sized spare wheel, there’s a repair kit thrown in altogether just in case if you end up with a puncture. Specification-wise, the Hybrid variant as tested here is technically a City Grade E in disguise that gains cruise control and the range-topping 16-inch alloys from the V model as an added bonus.
Rear passengers will also appreciate the vast head and legroom space. Accompanied by a set of power sockets with rear air-conditioning vents, being seated as passenger while being driven upstate to Terengganu remains a cozy affair. Best of all, the new Sport Hybrid i-DCD system utilises a new electric-driven compressor that keeps the cabin cool at all times when the engine is cut off at a standstill. A feature that wasn’t included in the previous Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) setup.
HONDA JAZZ HYBRID
"...it simply overwrites all of the past shortcomings when it comes to at the wheel engagement."
Practically billed as the hatchback alternative for the slightly not-so mainstream lot, the Jazz Hybrid still utilises the same 1.5-litre i-DCD powertrain that’s seen in the aforementioned model. While it lacks a class-leading boot, the Jazz Hybrid is gifted with a more voluminous interior — and the amazing Ultra Seats feature remains — just like the conventional variant. If you’re looking at interior space, the Jazz Hybrid is almost certainly the one to go for.
Measuring driving dynamics and engagement, the Jazz feels pretty much like the City Hybrid at the twisties. Lacking additional weight over at the back here is made even more evident as it feels a little twitchy, but makes up for a rather delightful drive nonetheless. Build quality is solid, though a bit iffy at pronounced areas.
One unredeeming feature about the Jazz Hybrid worth noting of is the lack of niceties you’ll get in comparison to the City Hybrid. It lacks paddle shifters, which it devalues the excitement at the wheel rating a smidgen lower, smaller and not so appealing alloys, which inevitably returns better ride comfort compared to the City Hybrid, and a smaller boot when the rear seats are in use.
While it might fit two adults more comfortably at the back due to its sheer generous headroom, the Jazz Hybrid also lacks rear air-conditioning vents or power outlets for those seated at the back. But making all of those foibles up is an unbeatable price, though. At RM84,880, it's currently recognised as the most affordable hybrid vehicle ever to be on sale in our market.
Following its introduction since 2013, the Jazz Hybrid has proven a superb track record on powertrain reliability. To date, the hybrid battery replacement ratio is 0.103 percent as reported for the Japanese model. And for added peace of mind, Honda Malaysia is offering up to eight years warranty for the battery pack with unlimited mileage guarantee.
Replacing the Lithium-ion battery pack is priced at an estimated RM5,513, currently rated as the most affordable figure when it comes to hybrid battery replacement in the industry. Want more? Then do enjoy the six-year free labour service that’s thrown in altogether when you sign that agreement.
A Perfect Motoring Entry
"If you’re looking at interior space, the Jazz Hybrid is almost certainly the one to go for."