It is officially called the Honda Jazz e:HEV Luxe, but we just call it Jeff. It suits Jeff.

This super-efficient little Honda costs $36,000, plus $950 on-road costs, but with a $4140 clean-car rebate, it will set you back only $32,810.

For this, you get a really competent and efficient city car that is perfectly capable of being a long-trip hero. It packs many of the safety features of top luxury vehicles at a fraction of the price, but there are compromises along the way.

In my test drive of the car, for about a week, I averaged 4.4 litres of petrol per 100km travelled, although Honda said this should be 2.8 litres, with a standardised WLTP figure (explained below) of 3.8 litres. 

Regardless, the petrol tank went down by only about 10% and I still had more than 900km of range when I dropped the Jazz back.

It also has “Econ mode” to cut petrol usage and, presumably, come closer to the advertised range. Jeff is a car imagined into life for the era of high petrol prices and lower emissions.

Jeff was zippy on the motorway but a little sluggish going uphill with a full passenger load. (Image: Supplied)

 Jeff makes use of three propulsion set-ups, depending on how he is feeling.

  • A 35kW battery powers an 80kW electric motor.
  • Hybrid mode, where the gas motor powers an electric generator, which then powers the electric motor.
  • Or direct power from the petrol engine to the front wheels.

Pleasingly, none of this is selectable by the driver, so you don’t even need to know it is happening, just that Jeff is a miser on petrol.

The e:HEV Luxe also has an upgraded interior, with leather, heated seats and a competent finish all around.

The price is right

It’s not a luxury vehicle, but the price is right.

The interior is louder than I’d like, the window wipers are noticeably noisy and the entertainment system is difficult to work out. (I enlisted BusinessDesk tech editor Ben Moore to help me work the radio.) But it does have both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Personally, I’d pay extra for decent speakers if I could.

I also was unable to pair my phone to the Bluetooth, but I am sure some fiddling and rebooting would have sorted that out eventually.

The interior could do with some refining. (Image: NZME)The front windscreen has triangle side panels, which is presumably some sort of cost saving. But the 91-degree field of view is a big improvement on older Jazz models.

Jeff seemed to struggle with a few people in the car when driving up a hill, even at 50km/h.

But, oddly, the Jazz was a revelation on the motorway. More than competent and perfectly happy at higher speeds – in fact, it crept above 100km/h a couple of times without me noticing.

The assisted-driving system is superb – much better than I expected in a mid-range compact. Coupled with adaptive cruise control, it will happily drive itself as long as you keep a lazy finger on the steering wheel to let it know you are still conscious.

The e:HEV Luxe may be a compact, but with the rear seats folded forward, there’s room even for sleeping. (Image: Supplied)

The rear seats are adaptable to 18 different positions, including lying flat so you can sleep in it, with 2.4 metres of space. The Japanese origami at work.

Another bonus: it runs on 91-octane fuel, which is a decent saving over premium.

And it even has Tesla-style "walk away" door locking.

The entry-level Jazz Life is $28k and qualifies for a $1150 clean-car cashback, and Honda claims petrol consumption of 5.8 litres per 100km. Even at about $6k more, the e:HEV Luxe will save you money on petrol in the long run and it is better for the environment.

We are impressed by Jazz-E Jeff.

Details

https://www.honda.co.nz/jazz/jazz-e-hev-luxe/

Emissions (g/km): CO2 figure: 64.1; WLTP CO2 figure (standardised)*: 87

Price: $32,810, after rebates.

Honda has a leasing option that would cost $641 a month for 45 months, allowing for 75,000km with full maintenance.

* WLTP stands for "worldwide harmonised light vehicle test procedure", a standard that measures fuel consumption, carbon dioxide emissions and the range of vehicles in realistic driving situations.