When Soichiro Honda took over a factory in 1946, little did he know that off the back of building and selling improvised motorised bicycles there would grow an automotive brand renowned for reliability and performance.
A brief history of Honda
The first complete motorcycle, with both the frame and engine made by Honda, was the 1949 D-Type and by 1964 they had become the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles. This allowed the manufacturer to move into the automobile sector, with their first model being the T360 mini pick-up truck. This was then followed by a two-door roadster, the Honda S500.
Honda entered the UK market in 1972 with the launch of the original Civic. The larger Accord joined the range in 1976, followed by the Prelude coupe in 1979. With a foothold now established in the UK, in 1985 Honda established a manufacturing plant in Swindon and began engine production in 1989.
While the manufacturing plant saw great success – peaking with a UK-manufactured Honda (CR-V) being exported to Japan for the first time in 2000, and becoming the basis for the global production hub of the next generation of the Civic in 2017 – it ceased operations on 30 July 2021, with the final car produced being a grey Civic hatchback. This marked the end of Honda manufacturing in Europe, although their range of hybrid cars and EVs continue to be sold here.
Honda Jazz: Hybrid
Marketed as ‘the hybrid you can feel’, the Honda Jazz entered its fourth-generation in 2020 as a hybrid-only model. The hybrid powertrain is marketed as an e-HEV which utilizes Honda’s new dual-motor hybrid system, making the supermini super-efficient.
Pairing a 1.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors to produce a total output of 108bhp and 253Nm of torque, the Jazz includes three driving modes: EV mode which runs the car solely on electric, Hybrid Drive where the electric motor and petrol engine work in unison to provide optimum power and fuel economy, and Engine Drive to rely exclusively on the engine.
While the design of the Jazz is reminiscent of an MPV rather than its rivals such as the Vauxhall Corsa or Ford Fiesta, its space and practicality make it a unique offering in the segment and one of the most popular Honda hybrid cars available.
Entry-level models feature a 5-inch infotainment system that includes a USB connection, DAB radio and Bluetooth all controlled by manual switches. Moving up into the mid-range SR dramatically boosts that offering to include a 9-inch touchscreen with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. Moving to the top of the range EX adds sat-nav into the mix.
Five models comprise the Honda Jazz range:
Honda CR-V: Hybrid
If ever a car has adapted to the times, the Honda CR-V is it. Having started life as the manufacturer’s first SUV in 1995, the fifth-gen model currently on sale has not only adapted its looks to more of a crossover-style but the engine line-up is now solely offered as a petrol/electric hybrid.
Available in either 2WD or 4WD, the CR-V’s hybrid credentials make it rather lively by large crossover standards with its 0-60 time of eight seconds. Even more impressive is its efficiency, with SE grade models able to potentially travel 534 miles on a full tank of petrol thanks to its seamless driving modes switching between electric, hybrid and engine.
Whereas it might be more responsive and efficient than some of its competitors, its engine choice does lead to some compromise when it comes to towing: the maximum limit of the CR-V Hybrid is only 750kg which could be an issue for some.
Thanks to the large wheelbase of the car, interior space is at an optimum and the CR-V is available with seven seats which may give it the edge against like-for-like competitors such as the Ford Kuga or Toyota RAV4. That convenience extends to the driver too, with the CR-V benefiting from one of the best driving positions in the segment. All of these points combined ensure it’s one of the most practical Honda hybrid cars available
Five models comprise the Honda CR-V range:
Honda e: Electric
Few cars have captured the attention quite like the Honda-e did when it was revealed at the IAA Motor Show in 2017. The Urban EV Concept shown there was a true throwback to car designs of old, bringing to mind the first-generation Honda Civic.
The production model was released in 2020, with styling upgrades including flush-mounted door handles and compact rear-view cameras on each side to replace traditional wing mirrors and simplify its profile. In spite of these unique touches, the Honda e retained its mix of retro styling and functionality.
Equipped with a 154 PS electric motor, the Honda e delivers 315 Nm of torque, as well as rapid acceleration – it goes from 0 to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds. Compact and quick, the Honda e delivers a fun and engaging experience and is the kind of EV that seems built for the city.
On the inside, minimalism is the key word. The spacious, uncluttered interior creates a comfortable lounge-like feel thanks to its clean and contemporary materials. A dual-screen digital display stretches across the whole of the dashboard to show everything from side-views, speed, range, satnav and more.
As great as the design and performance is, where the electric car falters is in its limited range. Stats collected by ev-database.uk show a real life range of only 105 miles for both basic and Advance models, with charging taking a mere 36 minutes using a 56 kW DC rapid charger. Using a 6.6 kW AC wallbox this increases to just over five hours to recharge.
Two models comprise the all-electric Honda e range: