The all-new fourth generation Honda Jazz will go on sale in Japan in February 2020. The model is known in Japan as the Honda Fit. Introduction of the all-new Honda Jazz in Malaysia is still some years away, but it will certainly reach here, probably by around 2021, mostly due to additional lead time required for local assembly.
For Europe and Japan, the all-new Jazz will be sold only as a hybrid but unlike the outgoing model, it won’t use the single motor i-DCD (Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive) paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Instead, it will use a smaller, scaled down version of the two-motor i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) hybrid first seen in the Accord Hybrid and CR-V Hybrid, both are available in Thailand but not here.
As the all-new Jazz will only be launched next year, details like power output are still lacking but it’s not difficult to guess because the Jazz uses the same 1.5-litre port fuel injection engine and a similar two-motor i-MMD hybrid setup as the Insight.
Note that this Insight is not the same as the B-segment one that was sold in Malaysia some years back, but an all-new, C-segment model that’s now sold only in USA and Japan.
It’s powered by a 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle engine (high efficiency but low torque, the latter addressed by electric motors) that makes a combined output (SAE method) of 153 PS and 267 Nm.
Assuming the all-new Honda Jazz uses identical motors, power output will be same as the Insight.
The outgoing Jazz Hybrid i-DCD'S 1.5-litre (also Atkinson cycle) engine makes a combined systen output of 139 PS and 170 Nm.
The Honda Insight’s specifications sheet says it uses an E-CVT type automatic transmission, but that’s a misnomer, albeit an intentional one because it’s a lot easier to explain to customers that the car uses an electric-type CVT rather than saying that it has no transmission.
There is nothing unusual with this arrangement. All Toyota hybrids with transverse engines use E-CVT, which is not a CVT at all, but a planetary gear set that replicates a CVT’s infinite ratio function.
The Honda i-MMD’s E-CVT is slightly different from Toyota’s. It’s a lot simpler, with no gears, using just one clutch to connect/disconnect the engine from the wheels/traction motor.
There is little need for torque multiplication because the traction motor fills in the gaps in torque and the engine only drives the wheels in low-load driving conditions (i.e. high speed cruising). As such, a conventional transmission is not necessary.
Why are 2-motor hybrids better?
Most hybrids use only one motor, usually nestled between the engine and transmission. It’s simple, relatively cost effective setup.
Prior to this, only Toyota use two motors for its mainstream hybrid models, Prius and Camry Hybrid included. With two motors, operating efficiency is significantly improved. The downside to it is of course, additional weight and cost.
The cutaway of i-MMD above shows two motors, a traction motor and a generator.
The 96 kW traction motor is the one that actually drives the (front) wheels. It also does regenerative braking, charging the high voltage lithium-ion battery when the car is coasting or braking, thus recovering energy that would otherwise be lost.
Up until this point, it works almost the same as many other hybrids.
Located further behind the traction motor is a generator. This where the added benefit comes in.
As it name implies, the generator is spun by the engine, to generate electricity to power the traction motor, thus giving it a stronger boost. It doesn’t drive the wheels (that’s done by the traction motor) but doubles as a starter motor to crank the engine.
Note that the generator doesn’t charge the high voltage battery, but only to provide additional power the traction motor.
The 2-motor setup allows the engine to be separated from the wheels, allowing it to run at its optimal, most efficient rpm range to generate electricity.
All combustion engines have a sweet spot in its rev range where it is most efficient. However, it is impossible to keep the engine running only within this range as the car needs to speed up/slow down, go uphill/downhill.
By freeing the engine from having the drive the wheels all the time, the engine is able to run at its optimal rpm, independent of the driven wheels, to generate electricity. In this mode, it runs as what's called a series hybrid. However unlike series hybrid cars, the Honda i-MMD can lock a clutch to engage the engine to drive the wheels.
Depending on driving conditions, i-MMD can either work like a fully electric vehicle (EV Drive mode, low speed), or as a series hybrid like the Nissan e-Power (medium speed, Hybrid Drive mode), or as a regular combustion engine car - the best of three worlds.
The end result of lower fuel consumption, with little compromise on driving performance.
The two motors are cooled by automatic transmission fluid, so there is still some maintenance required, but Honda says the clutch is maintenance free and is designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle, which typically means about 15 years/300,000 km.
By the way, the all-new Honda Jazz hybrid will wear e:HEV emblem. All new electrified Honda models will have the ‘e’ nomenclature, while HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is for its hybrid models.
Whether will we continue to get the all-new Honda Jazz as a hybrid or not, is an entirely different matter.
Our tax structure means that local assembly is a must in order to escape hefty import duties but producing hybrids locally is very expensive and the government is still dragging its feet in announcing the new national automotive policy. EEV incentives for hybrid cars also need to be renewed every year, thus making it difficult for manufacturers to plan ahead.
All these also means that the outgoing generation dual-clutch transmission Honda Jazz Hybrid i-DCD will be the last of its kind.
That’s a shame because the slick shifting 7-speed dual-clutch transmission drives really well, and is sportier than any of its same-class rivals.
It’s powerful and very economical and the only complain we have is the rough sounding engine. Still, there’s no other model in its class that drives better, fits more, and costs less to run.