The Jazz will be the first hybrid model in the small B-segment, priced at £15,995 - some £3,000 below the larger Toyota Auris Hybrid model.

Honda does admit that it is not as green as its rivals. Even with a new continuously variable transmission, hybrid powertrain and stop-start system, the Jazz has CO2 emissions of 104g/km, well above the Toyota Auris Hybrid at 89 g/km and higher even than regular petrol models such as the Ford Fiesta with 99g/km.

Product PR manager Steve Kirk explained: 'The Jazz is a global car, it has not been specifically engineered for the UK or to meet the London Congestion Charge.

'We could get down to under 100g/km but there would be compromises along the way. We would probably have to install a larger battery, therefore reducing space in the cargo area, or lose weight in the car by stripping out sound-deadening materials which would lead to a loss in refinement.'

Honda still believes the new model will make inroads into the fleet market.

The average age of a Jazz buyer is still somewhat high at around 60 years and most sales are to private buyers, Honda believes there is potential to increase fleet sales as company car drivers downsize to smaller vehicles. The Jazz can fit the bill in terms of refinement and standard equipment, said Mr Kirk.

The company has also listened to its customers who have never taken to the automatic i-SHIFT transmission, preferring the Jazz's CVT, which has been updated and makes a comeback on the refreshed model.

I-SHIFT was originally introduced because it improved emissions, but Honda says the latest CVT is a lot greener than its predecessor.

The hybrid will be introduced in early March while 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol models go into the showrooms from this month.

Petrol models are expected to account for around 27,000 sales this year and the hybrid 3,000.