Hybrid is the IN thing nowadays. With global warming making those living in Malaysia feel like they’re in a perpetual sauna with the occasional freak storm thrown in to liven things up, the population is getting more aware of the importance of environment preservation. Of course, having more disposable income from not buying so much fuel is one of the key considerations in going hybrid and coupled with attractive incentives from the government by imposing zero taxes on imported hybrid vehicles has made hybrids (at least the smaller cc ones) much more affordable.
Honda and Toyota has made the hybrid more interesting by fielding 2 of its cheapest hybrid models: The Prius C and Jazz Hybrid. Both claims excellent FC, exhilarating acceleration, low CO2 emmissions and excellent NVH. All these, for a price less than RM100,000. So which is a better buy?
Design has always been a very subjective affair. Personally, I find both the Prius C and Jazz to have their unique styling and I wouldn’t mind being seen in either one (although I felt like a gorilla in a cage with the smaller Prius C cabin)
In terms of dimensions, the Prius C is longer at 3,995mm vs Jazz 3,900mm, both have the same width at 1,695mm and the Jazz is taller at 1,525mm vs Prius C’s 1,455mm (for the sake of comparison, a Myvi’s dimensions is L3,690/W1,665/H1,545). The taller Jazz translates to better headroom for both front and rear passengers and I do not feel as claustrophobic in the Jazz compared to the Prius C.
The Prius has a 1.5litre engine paired to an electronically controlled CVT gearbox. The motor is powered by a 144-volt nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery. Total output is rated at 101PS with 111Nm of torque. When I tested it, I was somewhat disappointed because it felt like a normal 1.5litre engine that’s unassisted by any motor. Compared to the Prius Prius (pun intended), the Prius C lacks a Power mode so you only get to choose ECO mode or EV mode, both of which does not give you a boost like the Prius Prius. When starting up the car, it does so like it’s elder brother …. no sound, no vibration. The only indication comes from the monitor (which looked rather cute)
Surprisingly, there is no RPM meter in the Prius C so it gets a bit annoying when I encounter the engine droning a little when I accelerate more quickly and don’t know how fast is the engine spinning which then gives me some indication how much I should let off the gas). Steering position is rather low and though this increases visibility, I have the impression I’m driving a low-seating height van. I couldn’t test the EV mode as the battery level was low when I drove it.
The Jazz Hybrid on the other hand has a 1.3litre i-VTEC engine with IMA paired to a CVT gearbox with paddle shift (the same combo in the Honda Insight). The total output is 88PS (engine) + 10PS (motor) with 121Nm (engine) + 78Nm(motor). There is no data on the combined horsepower and torque but when driving, the Jazz felt lighter and quicker off the line.
Comfort and Convenience
Both cars has multifunction steering wheels and are pretty light to operate. I like the steering feedback of the Jazz more though.
The Prius C’s buttons are neat and clear; kinda reminds me of a joypad. From here you can check the energy monitor, drive information, ECO score, 5-min consumption and past record.
The Jazz’s steering on the other hand has a more conventional layout. From it, you can see various information such as distance to empty, seat belt use, ECO score, trip meter, driving time, average fuel consumption, battery charge status.
Both cars offers good rear legroom space (first pic is Prius C vs Jazz)
Cruise control is standard on both cars (Prius C uses a stalk whereas Jazz uses buttons):
But the Jazz trumps the Prius C by offering paddle shifters:
as well as auto light:
In addition, the main selling point of the Jazz (any Jazz) is the utilitarian space it has to offer, in particular in the rear. With it’s ULTRA (or some call it, Magic) seats, you can literally transform the rear configuration to virtually any arrangement you want:
With it’s rear seats folded down, you get a whopping 846litres worth of space … probably enough to fit an elephant in there. The hatchback configuration also allows a wide boot aperture, which makes packing odd box sizes in a breeze
In addition, the rear seats of the Jazz can be reclined by about (best estimation) 5 degrees which translates to better comfort for rear passengers in long distance journeys (note the alignment of the rear seats which is slightly off in the picture above)
Another key point the Jazz has over the Prius C is the availability of nooks and holes for every conceivable bottle you have:
On the top right of the dashboard at the driver’s side, Smart tag goes in here
Water bottles here
Sunglasses, toolkits, notepads, handphones and whatever nots can be neatly stowed away here at the twin compartments.
Both cars have manual headlight leveling and electric side mirrors:
The Prius C has keyless Push Start, making it very convenient for ladies so that they don’t have to rummage through their handbags for keys.
One good feature the Prius has is optional reverse camera. The image is clear and crisp but lacks guidance lines so it needs a little getting used to. At least I won’t be reversing onto children playing behind the car.
Also, the Prius C has GPS navigation …. your other half will never need to call you while you’re in the middle of a meeting asking for directions.
I love the Jazz’s funky speedometer which changes color according to your driving style (aggressive means blue while green is eco)
With regards to the spare tire, in the Prius C, you get a full sized tire whereas Jazz gives you a puncture repair kit
Here’s the plus point of both cars. I have never been an advocate of Toyota and Honda because I share the common belief that the principal dealers here under-spec and over-price their cars. But this is not entirely true with these hybrids.
The Prius C has 7 airbags, vehicle stability control (VSC), traction control (TC), ABS, EBD, BA as well as Hill Start Assist.
The Jazz on the other hand comes with 6 airbags, vehicle stability assist (VSA), ABS, EBD, BA and Hill Start Assist so accident victims in the Prius C has better protection against knee injuries (that 1 additional airbag) compared to the Jazz.
I have always been an advocate for active and passive vehicle safety and with both Honda and Toyota giving the full specifications in terms of increasing passenger/driver survivability, I am most pleased.
In terms of headlights, I must also mention that the Prius C comes with projector headlights while the Jazz is normal reflectors:
This means owners can choose to retrofit HID for better illumination that will not glare against oncoming traffic too much. Doing the same on the Jazz may result in excessive reflection too high up and pose a threat to other motor users.
In this respect, the Prius C is better since owners need to bring their car in only once every 10,000km while Jazz follows the typical 5,000km service interval. Not only it saves in terms of convenience but in terms of total ownership, owners may pay less with the Prius C in the long run.
The cost of replacing the battery in the Prius C is estimated between RM11,000 to RM12,000 whereas for the Jazz, it’s about RM8,000 (unverified; as told by the sales person so please reconfirm if you happen to visit the dealership)
So in the end, which is the better car? I really can’t say because it all depends on your priorities. The only thing I hate about the Jazz is the (IMHO) flimsy door handles which does not inspire as much confidence compared to the Prius C
Otherwise, if it was up to me, I’d pick the Jazz not because of the fact that it’s cheaper (RM94,800 OTR with insurance vs Prius C RM97,000 OTR) but because of its utility.
Having said that, the Prius C remains to be the more popular choice among Malaysians with waiting list as long as 6-7 months (so don’t be surprised if you find Toyota salespersons not being too enthusiastic in selling this car to you because they won’t get their commission until the delivery of the car).
So do visit the nearest showrooms and take your time in deciding if you are looking at either model. Whichever way you choose, you won’t be wrong.
Here’s a video of how the Prius C works:
Here’s how the Honda IMA Hybrid works:
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