Review: Honda City Hatchback e: HEV RS

Honda City Hatchback e: HEV RS

Where Malaysia Price RM107,783 On sale now Engine four-cyl, petrol + electric motor Power 96bhp Torque 253Nm Gearbox single-speed Battery Capacity 1.3kWh Range 900km Kerb weight 1249kg Top speed 175km/h 0-100km/h N/A   CO2 87g/km  Rivals 

What is it?

The City Hatchback e:HEV RS is Honda’s new flagship small hatchback which replaces the Honda Jazz. It’s not the Jazz in another name. It is an all-new model in the Malaysian market. The Jazz was a separate, different model from the City while the all-new City Hatchback is the five-door version of the City saloon. The Jazz will still be available in other markets but not Malaysia.

The City Hatchback is 4349mm long compared to the previous generation Jazz at 3955mm. The wheelbase has grown by 70mm but the boot has been reduced by 74 litres. That aside, the Hatchback has the iconic Ultra Seats beloved by many generations of Jazz fans.

In addition the hybrid variant is now the flagship – the first-ever City with an RS variant. In the previous generation City and Jazz, the hybrid variant was a mid-spec model.

What is it like?

The Honda City Hatchback e:HEV RS combines performance, fuel efficiency, versatility and convenience in one package. Its spirited performance comes from the 253Nm of torque it produces – about the same output as a 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine, without the high fuel consumption or emissions. The claimed fuel economy of the City Hatchback e:HEV is 27.8km/L with CO2 emissions of 87g/km. In contrast, the non-hybrid 1.5-litre City Hatchback’s claimed consumption is 17.8km/L with 130g/km of CO2 emissions. Its maximum torque is 145Nm.

The City Hatchback e:HEV has Honda’s latest i-MMD hybrid technology which combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors, Propulsion Motor and Generator Motor and a high-output lithium ion battery. The lithium ion battery powers the Propulsion Motor at start-up and at low speeds. When the energy stored in the battery depletes, the engine engages the Generator Motor which recharges the lithium ion battery while channeling power to the Propulsion Motor.

The engine also engages (to recharge the battery through the Generator Motor) when going uphill or overtaking, more demanding conditions, and works with the Propulsion Motor to maintain power and responsiveness. At cruising speeds, between 80 to 120km/h, just the engine drives the wheels. As speed increases, the engine and Propulsion Motor work in combination up to the top speed of 175km/h. The power swapping and sharing takes place autonomously and seamlessly, managed by the Power Control Unit. The best thing about this hybrid system is that it doesn’t need external charging. That’s no cables, no hunting around for available charging points, no range anxiety. Just top up petrol as usual and get a potential range of almost 1000km from the 40 litre tank. 

Apart from the name change, the Hatchback is very much the Jazz in another name (I know… I said it wasn’t…). The Ultra Seats and multiple seat configurations, the class-leading rear legroom and load carrying capabilities have been carried over. The boot expands to 841 litres with the rear seats tumbled down flat. The cabin is so capacious that I was able to transport an office chair – the swivelling-type with arm rests – in the rear with the seats in tall mode. Otherwise I would have needed to borrow a truck.

Should I get one?

The e:HEV RS has the full Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance features, including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane centring assist, lane keeping assist and automatic high beam. There are also six airbags, stability control and the LaneWatch blind spot camera. Our sole reservation is how much more it costs over the mid-spec, V-Sensing which has almost identical features: RM16,000. 

For that, you get the more technologically advanced d i-MMD power train and the more sophisticated e-CVT transmission which is better suited to optimising the fuel efficiency of the e:HEV’s motor system. There are also adaptive cruise control (passive in the V-Sensing), combination digital/analogue instrument cluster (analogue in the V-Sensing sportier red and black front seats (black in the V-Sensing), solid discs at the rear (drum in the V-Sensing), Auto Start-Stop, rear vents and electronic parking brake. To go with the sportier nature, there is a G-meter and red highlights on the climate control dials.

We certainly believe the Honda City Hatchback e:HEV RS deserves consideration.  Whether to get one or not is whether you are willing to pay for your fuel savings in advance.