Updated 2011 Jazz line gets light restyle, new powertrains

Updated 2011 Jazz line gets light restyle, new powertrains

Honda will introduce the smallest - and cheapest - hybrid model in the UK with the launch of the refreshed Jazz [Fit] line-up over the next two months.

The Jazz will be the first hybrid model in the 'supermini' B segment, priced at GBP15,995 (US$25,500), some GBP3,000 below the larger C segment Toyota Auris hybrid.

Honda admits, however, that it is not as green as its rivals.

Even with a new continuously variable transmission, hybrid powertrain and stop-start system, the Jazz has CO2 emissions of 104g/km, well above the rival Auris (89g/km) and higher even than regular petrol models such as the Ford Fiesta (99g/km).

Product PR manager Steve Kirk said: "The Jazz is a global car, it has not been specifically engineered for the UK or to [avoid] the London congestion charge.

"We could get down to under 100g/km [the congestion charge waiver threshold] but there would be compromises along the way. We would probably have to install a larger battery, therefore reducing space in the cargo area, or lose weight in the car by stripping out sound-deadening materials which would lead to a loss in refinement."

Honda still believes the new model will make inroads into the fleet market.

The average age of a Jazz buyer is still somewhat high at around 60 years and most sales are to private buyers, Honda believes there is potential to increase fleet sales as company car drivers downsize to smaller vehicles. The Jazz can fit the bill in terms of refinement and standard equipment, said Kirk.

The company has also listened to its customers who have never taken to the automated manual 'i-SHIFT' transmission option introduced with this Jazz generation, preferring the previous generation's CVT which has been updated and mades a comeback on the facelifted UK model line. Automatic Jazz/Fit models sold in Asia-Pacific, Japan and North America have a 1.5-litre petrol engine and conventional five-speed torque converter transmission.

Automated manual was introduced in Europe at the last model redesign because it improved emissions but Honda says the latest CVT is a lot 'greener' than its predecessor.

The hybrid will be introduced in early March while 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol models go into the showrooms from this month.

Petrol models are built at Honda's UK factory in Swindon while hybrids are built in Japan where the manufacturing technology and expertise is based.

Petrol models are expected to account for around 27,000 sales this year and the hybrid 3,000.