Monday, October 10, 2011

The Constant Gardener

On test… Honda Jazz Hybrid

As much as the chaps over at Honda might hate it, I’m afraid their cars have something of a, shall we say, “mature” reputation. I’ll show you what I mean...

I say “Honda”.

And do you think: “Ah yes, blue/grey tyre smoke and bullet-train acceleration?” No. Exactly. You’re thinking blue/grey hair and strict adherence to the speed limit.

Yes indeed, Hondas are the sensible shoes of the automobile world. Sure, they’re a little pricey, but they’re very well put together. And like all quality goods, if treated well, a Honda will serve you well for the longest time. The odd Type R or S2000 convertible might get the youngsters going, but on the whole Hondas are the inevitable the car of choice for those of retirement age.

Which is why the new Jazz Hybrid is going to get these folks particularly excited. You see this new car allows to you to do a spot of gardening while you drive… and we all know how much senior citizens like a spot of gardening.

The Jazz Hybrid has a similar drive train as found in its Insight sibling, which is to say it’s powered by a 65 kW, 1.3 litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a supplemental electric motor adding another 10 kW in the mix, all governed by a CVT auto transmission. And this is where the gardening bit comes in. Striving for life on the car’s multi-hued dashboard display are five little tree-shaped lights. Drive with a restrained, sensible-shoe-ensconced right foot and, thanks to the clever piggy-back battery that gets re-charged every time you brake, the little trees will grow. Drive enthusiastically, however, and they slowly die.

It’s senior citizen heaven. And it’s a heaven that’s also had something of a make-over. The new Hybrid features the Jazz range’s mid-life face-lift with a revised front and rear bumpers that improve aerodynamics and a new grill for the Hybrid meant to convey its techy roots. Inside, there have been minor improvements to the Jazz’s somewhat miraculous interior space with its space-saver seats and huge 300-litre boot.

While the senior citizens will love this car, labeling it as only suitable for this niche would be selling the whole Jazz range woefully short. While it may well be perfect for those looking for sensible, hassle free, motoring, the Jazz is also the perfect car for the modern motorist. It’s small, economical, nippy (the CVT auto box is surprisingly good), and has the kind of interior space that borders on the miraculous. It may not be the sexiest small car out there, and certainly not the cheapest, but it is the best.

Which is why you could, if the mood took you, stand up, and in your best JFK voice declare… “Ich bin ein pensioner.”

The Hybrid Jazz Hybrid goes for R244 698 & comes with a 3-year 100,000km warranty and a 4-year 60 000km service plan

As published in the September issue of Kulula's in-flight mag, Khuluma