Jazz Hybrid VS Prius C minitest

Hond Jazz Hybrid2012 Toyota Prius c i-Tech


Honda_Jazz_Hybrid (15)2012 Toyota Prius c i-Tech


Honda_Jazz_Hybrid_interior (1)2012 Toyota Prius c i-Tech interior



I hear you all groaning with the collective sigh of a deer discovering too late that it has been caught in the headlights. Another review of a car whose sole purpose is to use as little petrol as possible and bore us to death while doing it. I share your pain, but it needn’t be that way. Keep in mind the diminutive dimensions mean easier parking because we all know most of us have only 1 person in the car most of the time. You’ll remember the up! we tested recently, and loved, which proved we are not opposed to entry level motoring with a touch of panache. But that’s also the problem with cars being designed then built cheaply as opposed to being designed to be inexpensive. It’s very hard to do the latter well so here are 2 new offerings. What do you think?

You can see from the table below that the Honda came out on top, but only just. The difference felt far more marked than that of only a few points between the top and bottom contenders. Here are a few high, and low, lights:

Prius C:- good- comfy driving position, good equipment level, attractive cabin, nippy performance

bad- CVT, off centre instruments, expensive ($27,628on-road)

Jazz Hybrid:- good- Spacious feeling interior, nippy performance, the “Jazz” reputation and name, clever configurable rear seats

Bad- CVT, slightly uncomfortable driving position, Expensive ($25,784)

Keeping in mind both of these cars are meant to be frugal city run-abouts, none exactly achieved the claimed fuel usage figures. This isn’t unusual as the figures are assessed by men in white coats with machines that go “bong”. They do not load a couple of chaps in the back for a whizz through city snarls at peak hour. What’s even worse now is the “econ” settings that rob your prized possession of any semblance of performance will give you the best fuel figures. But, I ask you this: Do you really want to be driving a low powered car with even less power? NO, of course you don’t. I have a theory which is that auto makers want to lower their over-all CO2 figures on paper by putting fuel saving gizmos into cars which no one will ever use. A suspicious person might say that was what was behind Aston Martin and their ridiculous Cygnet. The only thing the Cygnet has going for it is a stunning interior. But back to our bat(tery)-pack. (get it? Bat-pack , battery pack and, oh never mind)


Prius C and Jazz both have a touch of the Mini-People-Mover about them.

It’s not a shape I personally find attractive but there it is. It does what it says on the box and you can’t ask for more than that. A lot of entry level cars look a little poverty stricken accountancy about them with corners being cut to make sure the build comes in on or under budget.

No such problem with the hybrids as they both have attractive “mags”, LED lighting and a solid look to the construction. Just as an aside, we’ve been often asked, well sometimes asked, well asked once many years ago, why alloys are so important. The issue is to make the “unsprung weight” as small as possible. Alloy wheels are much lighter than their steel cousins. The same goes for ceramic brakes VS steel discs, so as to make the bit clunking through potholes as lightweight as possible. Mags aren’t just there to look good but it helps if they do.

My last comment would be on the colour of the Prius (orange) which made me feel a little bilious.

I doubt most people will buy either of these cars for looks so let’s get inside.


The Prius C-

In the same way as the bigger sister tried innovation in its interior, the C has design features that are there simply because they can be there. There are cubby holes for storing awkward bits and bobs all over the place and a speedo that sits in the centre of the dash. I don’t like centre speeod, not in the Mini, and not in the Prius. It’s a daft idea. It takes the drivers eyes off the road more often than necessary and takes quite some getting used to.

There are bags of headroom and a general feeling of spaciousness. The seating is fairly comfy and covered in a decent fabric. The top model had a plastic feeling leatherette instead of fabric which I’m not so fond of. The air conditioning is brilliant. Its auto climate control and seems to cope well with warm days.

The switch gear has a solid feel, yet somehow I’m still left feeling with an impression pov-motoring.

The Jazz-

Apart from the extra whizbangery associated with the hybrid drive, the Jazz is the same comfy interior as the no-battery sister. Like the Prius, the Jazz feels like it has plenty of space inside. There is oodles of headroom and excellent all-round visibility.

Throughout the week I wasn’t able to get the driver’s seat exactly as I wanted it but I’ve put that down to user error. The interior feels more conventional and therefore more usable. The rear seats can be configured many ways but impressively can be folded backwards so you have the full cabin height in the back seat for putting really tall cargo. It’s terribly clever.

The Drive:-

The best to drive is the Jazz as it feels the nicest on the road. The steering feels direct though not as good as other Hondas. I did feel the driving position never quite as comfortable as I would have liked. It also felt the best on the road. The Prius felt a little remote and insulated from the road but both felt nice and nippy, much more so than their non hybrid stable mates. Remember the Jazz Hybrid also comes with the same plucky Honda 1.5L 4 cylinder that powers the standard jazz. The Prius is a Yaris sized Synergy Drive hybrid which also has a 1.5L petrol engine.

There are very few hybrids that haven’t felt compromised as far as the drive goes. The batteries that give the electric engine its power, also give the car a massive amount of extra weight. It’s marvellous for ride but not so fabulous for handling. Both cars tended towards understeer snapping to oversteer when pushed.

Having said that, both cars felt nippy despite their lowish power output mainly due to the torque which gives them an extra bit of kick at take off. The Prius can be driven on pure electric power for short distances but only to a max of 2k’s and/or 40kph whereas the Jazz only ever allows the batteries to assist the petrol engine. Both have stop/start but the Toyota start is far smoother.

The main point of hybrid ownership is the consumption. Both claim under 4L/100k but we got closer to 5. Perhaps if we had driven Miss Daisy leaving the “econ” setting do its thing we may have achieved under 4.


The real question is: who is going to buy them? They are expensive at $25k and $27k. For that money you could buy 2 VW UP!’s for every 1 of either the Jazz or Prius. If you did 50k a year maybe you might get some value for money but you will never get your money back. By that I mean if you bought a conventional Jazz you’d pay almost $10,000 less, that’s an awful lot of petrol before you get to the price of the hybrid. Both Honda and Toyota have worthy cars for the same money that are far more comfortable and use only marginally more fuel. Entry level though they are, entry level buyers aren’t going to want to spend more than 20k and they will want a lot more for their doh. If they find a diesel they’ll be able to travel much further on a tank and it will cost less overall to do it.

The one fact is hybrids produce far less CO2 than any petrol/diesel model so it looks like as with all cars, you are buying a lifestyle. You want your car to say something about you. In this case your car would be saying “I care about the environment” and it shows you are happy to put your money where your mouth is.

Would I buy one? No. Both would need to be well under 20k before I’d be tempted. They are not good value for money.

Which is better? The Jazz, but only by a nose.



Jazz Hybrid


Prius C














Cargo capacity
















Fuel consumption








Interior feel




Value for money




How it makes you feel








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