Honda Jazz Review
The Honda Jazz is designed to be easy to live with and its great space and practicality ensure just that. It’s a shame it looks expensive next to other small cars, though.
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The Honda Jazz has traditionally appealed to a certain demographic, because it’s a small car with the emphasis purely on space and practicality. You want style or a truly fun driving experience? Move along, nothing to see here.
It’s up against cars such as the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and Peugeot 208, cars whose drivers are more likely to be seen wearing ripped jeans than crocs.
Still, change could be afoot, because the Jazz has had makeover outside. Its front end has a bit of a gurning face, but is much more interesting than before, while strong lines and quirky aero wheels combine to make this a much edgier car to look at. There’s also a Crosstar model with chunky plastic cladding for that faux SUV look.
The edginess continues inside, where the design is far more interesting than in a Fiesta or Polo. There are different shapes and textures plus a raised centre console with the gear selector set quite high up. Crosstar models even get waterproof seats. Yep.
In the middle of the dashboard is the infotainment screen which is either 5 inches as standard without touch capability or 9 inches on higher-level models with touch, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s a much better effort than Honda’s systems to date, although the driver’s digital dials are some way behind the best small cars’.
The Honda Jazz has a reputation for being driven by older people, but this new model has quirkier styling and some new-age tech.
Space and practicality are the Jazz’s fortes. There’s loads of room in the front and back for adults, although the rear middle seat is best left to children. The Jazz also keeps its clever magic rear seats which allow the base to be flipped up or backs to be folded down flat. The boot isn’t huge compared with a Polo’s or 208’s, but it’ll handle a couple of large suitcases, is low to the ground and has superb access.
The UK gets a grand total of one engine option on the Jazz – a 1.5-litre petrol mated to two electric motors and a battery pack. That means hybrid power, the ability to travel on electricity for short periods and more than 60mpg if you drive carefully. With 109hp it’s no Usain Bolt, but neither does it feel out of its depth on faster roads.
In town, its superb visibility and tight turning circle really help, but it can get a bit choppy on broken Tarmac. There’s more fun to be had in a Ford Fiesta on winding country roads, too, but aside from a little wind noise, the Jazz is comfy and confidence-inspiring on the motorway.
Which all boils down an obvious choice. If you put a fun drive and sharp styling before space and practicality then the Jazz probably isn’t for you. If you value practicality, reliability and great fuel economy, then the Honda Jazz should certainly be on your shortlist.
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This is what the Jazz does best. It has more space inside than most small cars and its rear seats fold in clever ways. Its boot is useful, too, if not the biggest around.
The Honda Jazz has lots of room in the front for even tall adults, and another couple of tall adults will have no issues with knee or head room in the back, either. It’s roomier than even a VW Polo inside.
That said, the Jazz’s middle seat leaves a lot to be desired, to the point that three adults simply won’t fit. Three children should be fine, though.
There are plenty of places to throw your odds and sods inside. The Jazz has a generous glovebox, a large cubby beneath the front armrest and a couple of decent front door bins for large water bottles.
In the back, each door gets another good-sized bin, plus a pocket on the back of each front seat, but that’s your lot.
At 304 litres the Jazz’s boot is getting on for 100 litres less spacious than a Polo’s, but in real terms you’ll still be able to cram a couple of large suitcases inside.
The Jazz’s boot is actually easier to use, though, because it has a whopping great opening that’s extremely simple to get bulky items in and out of, plus it’s so low to the ground you needn’t be straining yourself with heavy bags.
The Honda Jazz is designed to glide about in town saving fuel, not charge down country roads putting a massive smile on your face. Handily, it’s great at the former. Not so much the latter.
The UK gets a grand total of one engine option on the Jazz – a 1.5-litre petrol mated to two electric motors and a battery pack Honda calls e:HEV. Swanky.
That means hybrid power, the ability to travel on electricity for short periods and more than 60mpg if you drive carefully. With 109hp its no Usain Bolt, but neither does it feel out of its depth on faster roads.
Like lots of hybrids the Jazz is fitted with a CVT automatic gearbox as standard, which means it doesn’t have physical gears. Instead, when you put your foot down, the engine is held at high revs until the desired speed is reached.
When in town the engine is lovely and quiet, where it isn’t being pushed. However, when you want to sprint down a motorway sliproad or overtake something on a country road, you’ll have to put up with a bit of a din.
In town is where the Jazz is most competent. It isn’t the comfiest small car over bumps – a Fiesta, Polo and 208 are all better – but its simply staggering forward visibility and tight turning circle mean you’ll be carving through traffic and multistory car parks. And because you’re doing this mostly on electric, it’s a serene experience.
On country roads, there’s little pleasure to be had charging about. The Jazz steers with precision but doesn’t have huge reserves of grip nor brilliant control of its tall body.
Aside from some wind noise, it’s more confidence-inspiring on the motorway where it doesn’t wander and can keep up with faster traffic in most situations. Every Jazz also comes with a suite of safety systems, including adaptive cruise control and one which will gently steer to keep you in your lane.
The Honda Jazz has a quirky interior that’s more interesting than the small car norm. But, despite its infotainment system being better than ever, there are even slicker systems on sale.