The number of Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) offerings in Malaysia are rising, which premium manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz have been offering the latter for some time already, albeit exclusive for customers who can afford to spend a huge sum of money. Initially, Honda and Toyota did offer hybrid models, but they were too expensive with many Malaysians sticking to the status quo with discouragement by their exuberant prices and after sales costs.
Things are a lot different now; since the Malaysian government is aiming toward to be an Energy Efficient Vehicle hub in the region in line with global standards and contribute towards reducing carbon emissions, the government has been offering EEV incentives to manufacturers that offer vehicles that are able to offer Malaysian consumers high fuel efficiency. Therefore, most cars that have the EEV status are given the incentive to be priced lower than before to give them a hand to transition to a carbon emission-free future.
Honda Malaysia has brought in two of their latest B-Segment offerings with an additional electric motor into the local market with attractive prices; the Honda City 1.5L Sport Hybrid priced at RM89,200 and the Jazz 1.5L Sport Hybrid priced at RM84,880 – retail prices without insurance inclusive of GST. These are two firsts which Honda Malaysia had achieved with the two cars; they are the first hybrids in class and priced under RM100,000.
Both cars look much alike to their petrol powered siblings but carrying the ‘Hybrid’ badging on its front fenders and on the rear boot on the City and the Jazz’s tailgate is the only obvious indicators. There is no difference with their halogen headlamps and LED combination tail lights as well, only with the exception of the City V’s bright LED headlamps and both cars come with daytime running lamps as standard.
There are small differences inside, too. You’ll get fabric seats all-around with soft touches to be found on all four door cards and the centre armrest in both the Jazz and the City. However, the only differences you’ll notice is the instrument cluster and the gear selector. Naturally, with having a vastly different drivetrain, both cars are fitted with a multi information instrument cluster that feeds the car’s current driving information.
Taking centre stage for an audience of one, the instrument cluster consists of three clusters; the speedometer is flanked with two displays that show the hybrid powertrain status and a multi information display that provides the driver information of the current driving information such as the car’s mileage, current and average fuel consumption, hybrid drivetrain status, and other vehicle information and warnings.
Both the City and Jazz Sport Hybrids can accommodate four adults comfortably on short and long distance driving with adequate amounts of head and legroom without the feeling the strain. The plastics used in the interior in both cars are hard, but smooth to the touch without any sharp edges that may look and feel uncomfortable to the occupants. The front seats are comfortable and offer good levels of lateral support to the front occupants when the going gets spirited. NVH wise is low with little audible evidence of noise from the side mirrors and road roar from the tyres that the refinement in both cars are in the green.
As the driver is concerned, the steering wheel is well-sized and feels good in the hands, and the brake and accelerator pedal positions accommodate drivers who prefer to drive solely with their right foot, or with both comfortably without feeling awkward. Drivers in the City gets paddle shifters to select gears with, while Jazz drivers will not that option available to them.
What’s different is the gear selector in both cars, where shift-by-wire gear selector enables the driver to switch directions seamlessly. For drivers who are new to this would take some time to familiarise with the gear selection pattern and the ‘P’ button which selects Park instead of having a spot on the selector gate traditionally like in most cars. But once you get used to it, the shift-by-wire selector is easy to operate.
Entertainment wise, both the B-Segment Hybrid models get equal treatment, where driver and passenger can find the 6.8-inch touchscreen display audio with HDMI, USB, Bluetooth connectivity with streaming and Hands-Free Telephone (HFT) steering controls. Audio reproduction comes from four loud speakers located on all four doors in the two cars which provide good sound clarity and does go deep especially playing tracks with an abundance of low frequencies.
As for the rear passengers, both the City and Jazz Sport Hybrids can sit two adults with loads of head and legroom. The City comes with a 60:40 split rear seats with a retractable armrest which can hold two 600ml drinks bottle.
For owners who opt for the Jazz will still get the model’s super-versatile signature Ultra Seats that offer a huge variety of seating arrangements to suit your specific requirement. That said, the Jazz’s 60:40 split rear seats can either be folded down flat or raised up to allow tall objects to stand, also people can find their own sweet spot in a reclined or a sit up position on each side.
The City Sport Hybrid boasts 536-litres of trunk space – likewise with the regular petrol variants – which rivals most cars within the C- and D-segments even while lugging its new Lithium-Ion battery located beneath the rear seats. Much of the City Sport Hybrid’s chassis improvements can be found here as well; instead of having a cross member to support both the rear wheel wells, Honda engineers have strengthened the City’s rear bulkhead for both the petrol and HEV variants of the City, which strengthens the rear suspension pillars to provide higher chassis rigidity without adding additional weight, and allows long objects to go through the opening behind the centre armrest.
The Jazz Sport Hybrid, however, boasts 314-litres with the rear seats up and in hatchback standards, that’s considered pretty big, but even larger capacity is available still; the maximum 853-litres is available when both the rear seats are folded down flat seamlessly to the boot floor. Similarly to its sedan sibling, the Jazz’s Lithium-Ion battery is located beneath the rear seats.
However, both the hybrid cars don’t come with their own spare tyres, but Honda Malaysia is providing customers with a Temporary Tyre Repair Kit which consists of a portable compressor, liquid sealant, an instruction manual and warning stickers for the wheel with the damaged tyre and a reminder for the driver. The tyre that has been filled with the sealant is good for up to 280km before requiring a proper tyre change done at any authorised Honda service centre. The kit costs Rm182.85 after 6% GST and 15% discount.
Both City Sport Hybrid and Jazz Sport Hybrid are powered by a 1.5-litre DOHC naturally-aspirated port fuel injection four-cylinder petrol engine which by itself makes 108hp at 6,000 rpm and 134 Nm at 5,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission (7DCT) with an integrated electric motor which makes 29hp from 1,313 rpm to 2,000 rpm and a healthy 160Nm of torque from 0 rpm to 1,313 rpm. The combined output of both the petrol engine and the electric motor is 137hp and 170Nm.
Both cars are able to go on full EV mode while driving, but depending on the current driving situation and battery charge level. For example, the i-DCD will continue to run in EV provided that the battery charge is above 50%, and when the battery level drops below 50%, the petrol engine steps in and support the electric motor in initial acceleration. While cruising, both cars can be driven solely by the electric motor at speeds up to 80km/h, provided that the battery has enough charge to bring the car up to that speed.
Driving both cars on highways and cities do consume far much lesser fuel than its petrol variants; the regular Jazz, for example, consumes 5.8L/100km claimed, while the Jazz Sport Hybrid is able to do better with 3.6L/100km as tested, while other journalists involved in the four-day long media test drive managed to achieve 3.1L/100km!
The City Hybrid has a 70mm longer wheelbase than the Jazz, which the City handles predictably through fast sweeping corners providing drivers high levels of confidence when driven to its edge. The City Sport Hybrid makes light of bumps and undulations with minimal body roll through corners and bends at speeds. In addition, the City Sport Hybrid stays planted and stable when driven at high speeds.
It is not just the improvements made to its rear bulkhead, but also due to the enhancements made to its suspension fitted with larger diameter shock absorbers and stiffer connecting rods to its front McPherson struts and Torsion beam rear suspension, making the City Sport Hybrid handle much more agile and responsive than the pre-facelifted model.
Although the Jazz Sport Hybrid doesn’t get chassis enhancements like its sibling, it too gets the same suspension treatments as in the City and able to provide as much fun and confidence to the driver. The Jazz Sport Hybrid is able to absorb bumps effortlessly with little body roll through the twisty bits.
With a shorter wheelbase, the Jazz enjoys a higher level of agility through tight and technical bends despite having to lug an additional 100kg from the Lithium-Ion batteries. But in both cars, having the additional weight in the rear is a good thing as it provides additional traction to the rear wheels, without having to use a rear spoiler which can hurt the aerodynamics of both cars.
With an affordable and reasonable price, both the Honda City Sport Hybrid and Jazz Sport Hybrid are able to wear many hats for many Malaysians to commute daily in the city, travel stress-free and comfortable on long distance highway trips out of the city, and fun and engaging driving characteristics for drivers to enjoy on twisty and winding roads.
Opt for either one, you’ll get Honda’s 5 Years Manufacturer’s Warranty with unlimited mileage, free service labour applicable up to 6 times within 100,000km or 5 years and 8-year Hybrid Battery Warranty with Unlimited mileage with terms and conditions apply. When the need comes, the Lithium-Ion battery can be replaced new for RM5,513, which this price is the most affordable compared to other manufacturers, terms and conditions apply.