Officials at the company believe their latest development in lean-burn technology puts a best-of-both-worlds compromise under the bonnet of the Jazz supermini.
Featuring an arrangement that uses two spark plugs per cylinder, the car's 1.4-litre petrol engine produces higher power than its rivals for rapid acceleration and relaxed cruising on the open road.
But the layout gives such a boost to combustion efficiency that fuel consumption should be equivalent to that of a similar-capacity turbodiesel.
'We have only provisional data available at the moment, but our tests suggest that the Jazz will develop 83PS and have a combined economy figure of 55mpg,' said Honda senior managing director Takeo Fukui. 'It will also comply with the EU2005 emission regulations by having a CO2 figure of 131g/km.
'We have spent a long time developing technology to improve the economy of our petrol engines and the Jazz unit uses some of the features we came up with for the Insight, our hybrid car,'
'I think we are now closing the efficiency gap between petrol and diesel engines and we're confident that this new model will make a significant contribution to our sales in Europe.'
Launched as the Fit in Japan earlier this year, the five door car matches its B-sector rivals in size. But a centrally-mounted fuel tank, a unique feature of Honda's new global small platform, is claimed to give superior interior space and provide comfortable room for five adults.
Thanks to an unusually high cabin and rear seats that fold to provide a 1.7-mtr long flat cargo floor, luggage capacity ranges from 380 litres to 1321 litres.
Honda UK is still finalising pricing, but it is understood that the Jazz will be offered in high-specification form only when it is launched in March at under £9,000.
Honda's Logo was clearly trailing its rivals when it arrived here in 1999 and it was no surprise when the car was quietly withdrawn from the UK market only 12 months later.
But Honda UK is entitled to expect much better results from the Logo's successor. Instead of lagging behind, the Jazz will be regarded as a serious alternative to Europe's best when the Japanese company makes its next bid for a share of the burgeoning supermini sector. At a conservative estimate, Honda will sell 15,000 examples of the Jazz each year in Britain.
Much bigger inside than its looks suggest, the new Jazz has a tremendous amount of space for a small car and its interior layout is an object lesson in space-efficient packaging.
Mounting the fuel tank beneath the front seats effectively frees up valuable space in the rear, and a novel torsion beam rear suspension allows the car to have a lower floor than usual.
The layout gives impressive legroom and class-leading bootspace with the seats in the normal position. Converting the car into a small van couldn't be easier, thanks to an innovative retraction mechanism that completes the job in seconds without removing the headrests.
But the most impressive feature of the Jazz is the upbeat performance - with its advanced, high-compression i-DSI motor, this car accelerates smartly through the gears with all the refinement of a bigger model.
Its dashboard has a neat, integrated appearance with good detailing and sound levels are low enough to allow normal conversation at motorway cruising speeds. Handling is agile and accurate, but the suspension settings the prototypes I drove were too firm and provoked a bouncy ride over anything but the smoothest surface.
For driving fun and sheer usefulness, the Jazz is a winner and Honda should have no trouble selling the 15,000 example per year that it expects. The only problem is that a lot of customers could decide the Jazz suits them better than the UK-built Civic…