Sales of the Honda Jade Hybrid have begun in Japan – the six-seater MPV (2-2-2) gets a Sport Hybrid i-DCD powertrain, incorporating a 1.5 litre i-VTEC Atkinson-cycle engine and an electric motor built into a seven-speed twin-clutch ‘box. Fuel economy is a claimed 25 km per litre on the JC08 cycle.

Touted is an ultra-high-density low-floor platform which ensures a spacious cabin while keeping a low 1,530 mm vehicle height. As such, the fuel tank and exhaust system have been made compact and thinner, while a double wishbone suspension makes the low floor possible. The rear suspension’s upper arms are curved and the lithium-ion battery is located inside the centre console (first for a Honda hybrid), giving third-row occupants a flat floor and more room.

The 4,650 mm long vehicle features second-row ‘V-slide captain’s seats’ that can slide diagonally backwards for more legroom. The seats slide inwards as they come back, giving occupants a better frontal view. The 50:50-split third-row can be folded by pulling a strap.

Inside, you’ll find either ivory upholstery/silver-rimmed wood-grain trim or black upholstery/carbon-look trim. The seats are leather – their outer portions are made of ‘Prime Smooth 5’, a stain-resistant and easy-care material, while their seating surfaces and backrests are made of “breathable and wear-resistant material typically used for sportswear.”

Available is the Honda Sensing active safety suite, as found in the flagship Legend and US-market CR-V facelift. This includes Collision Mitigation Braking (braking only), Road Departure Mitigation (steering wheel vibrations if stray, corrective input, braking), Lane Keeping Assist (steering assist, vibrations if stray, >65 km/h) and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow (can come to full stop and start off again). Doesn’t get the Legend’s Pedestrian Collision Mitigation Steering System, though.

Standard across the range are LaneWatch, Pedestrian Injury Mitigation body structure, VSA and hill start assist. Hybrid and Hybrid X variants are offered, priced at 2.72 million (RM82k) and 2.92 million yen (RM88k) respectively. From what we can see, the Hybrid X adds front fog lamps and bigger seven-spoke alloys (Hybrid wears smaller turbine-style items).

The Honda Jade originated as a China-only model – it first appeared at Shanghai 2013 as the production version of the Concept S.