Honda Jazz Review
The Honda Jazz is a roomy small family car that’s easy to drive, but a little dull-looking.
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The Honda Jazz is a small family car that you’ll still manage to cram four adults and loads of luggage into. If you value styling, then the Jazz will be a little downbeat.
Indeed, it looks a little more Slough than Santa Monica, but the interior has a few slick silver and black glossy bits that liven up the Honda Jazz’s otherwise fairly dull cabin. That said, a SEAT Ibiza’s understated cabin is a bit smarter.
All but entry-level S models get a smart-looking 7-inch colour touchscreen. Unfortunately, it’s a slightly confusing system to use and satellite navigation adds several hundred pounds to the Jazz’s price. Said fiddly system is the only one option if you want sat nav, too, as you can’t get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on any Jazz.
Thankfully, the rest of the interior design is a lot cleverer. Regardless of which car you pick, there’s enough space in the back for two adults to get comfy and three kids will have plenty of room to stretch out.
The rear seat bases can even flip up and lock in place so you can carry tall items – a flat screen TV or a kid’s bike perhaps – behind the front seats. There’s plenty of head and legroom in the front too, but only EX models come with front-seat height adjustment as standard.
The Honda Jazz is adept as carrying luggage as well as passengers. The boot is very roomy for a small car and the rear seats fold in a 60:40 split as standard so you can carry rear-seat passengers and long luggage at the same time. With all the back seats folded down the boot will take a bike with its wheels attached.
The Honda Jazz might not have a great image but this is unfair. It’s easy to drive and its clever upwards folding magic seats will help carry awkward stuff that would fit into other cars.
There is only one engine on offer in the Honda Jazz, with the 1.3-litre model all you can get. There isn’t a diesel Jazz, so if you do lots of miles then something like the SEAT Ibiza will be cheaper to run.
The Jazz is reasonably quiet if you stick to pottering around town but does bounce a little over speed bumps and large holes in the road. The manual gearbox is nice to use, though, which is as good a reason as any to avoid the optional CVT automatic gearbox. It is easy to drive, but causes the engine to hold its revs and seem noisy, plus adds a grand to the price.
Euro NCAP last tested the Honda Jazz in 2015 and it picked up a five-star safety rating. The tests have been made stricter since, but the Jazz is still an impressively safe family car that’s well worth considering if practicality and durability are what you’re looking for in a small car.
The Honda Jazz’s reputation is a sensible and slightly boring one, making it like a practical rucksack to the smarter handbag of the VW Polo or SEAT Ibiza. If you value practicality over looks then it is a worthy option.
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You won’t struggle for space in the Honda Jazz – there’s plenty of head and leg room inside and its boot is pretty big – but fitting child seats can be a bit of a pain.
If the VW Polo’s a posh designer handbag, the Honda Jazz is a practical holdall – it might not have the same slick looks, but it’ll be far more practical in the day-to-day grind.
What the Honda Jazz lacks in technology it makes up for in internal space. There’s loads of head and legroom for those in the front and the driver’s seat comes with height adjustment as standard, too. You only get this on the passenger seat if you go for the range-topping EX model, though.
Unfortunately, you can’t additional lumbar support to help reduce backache on long journeys on any Honda Jazz. It shouldn’t be a deal breaker for everyone as the standard seats are reasonably well bolstered anyway, and its tall doors and comparatively high seat bases mean even less mobile people will find it easy to hop in and out.
Space in the back seats is just as generous. Two six-foot-tall adults will be able to sit comfortably without their knees touching the seats in front or their head touching the roof. There’s certainly more space in the Jazz than you’ll find in many rivals and its large rear windows mean it feels bright and airy.
Things get a little cramped if you’re carrying three in the back, but not to the point of being unbearable. There’s just enough shoulder room for three adults to sit abreast and the almost completely flat rear floor means even the passenger in the centre seat has somewhere to put their feet.
Three kids will have more than enough space to stretch out, too. The Honda Jazz’s raised height, tall roof and wide-opening rear doors mean it’s dead easy to lift a child seat in, but locating the hidden anchor points can be a pain.
Like a practical rucksack, there are loads of handy storage areas and cubby holes dotted about the Honda Jazz’s cabin. The three cupholders – two in the centre console and one up by the steering wheel – will cater for all but the largest cups or bottles and the door bins are also big enough to hold a large bottle.
The Honda Jazz is more than just a drinks carrier, though. There’s a handy storage bin under the centre armrest that’s big enough to hide a few valuables safely out of sight and the glovebox is reasonably roomy, too.
Jump in the back seats and you’ll find a comfortable armrest built into each door and a round storage bin below that’s perfect for holding yet more water bottles. Both front seats come with seat-back pockets, too – ideal for keeping the old A to Z map within easy reach.
The boot is another area where the Honda Jazz shines. With all five seats and the parcel shelf in place it can take 354 litres of luggage – that’s easily enough for a baby buggy and a few soft bags, and is only one solitary litre less than the cavernous SEAT Ibiza.
Once you’ve got your luggage over the slight load lip, the Honda Jazz’s large boot opening and square shape mean it is easy to carry bulky items. There’s space under the floor to tuck a few valuables – a small bag or a camera for example– safely out of sight, too.
Even more useful, however, are the Magic Seats in the Jazz. These let you flip up the rear seat bases – just like in a cinema – and lock them in place so you can carry taller items in the rear footwell.
If it’s long items rather than tall ones that you need to carry, then the rear seats fold down in a two-way (60:40) split on all models. This allows you to carry a rear passenger and some long loads at the same time.
Fold all the rear seats out of the way and the Honda Jazz’s boot floor is almost completely flat and there is an impressive 1,314 litres of space on offer. That’s almost exactly the same as the much larger Ford Focus and streets ahead of the 1,118 litres in the similarly sized Vauxhall Corsa.
The Honda Jazz’s slightly raised driving position and light controls make it a breeze to drive around town – it’s not particularly comfy on bumpy roads though.
The Jazz’s rather wheezy 1.3-litre engine will really struggle with heavy loads
The engine and gearbox choices are fairly simple on the Honda Jazz. There is just one petrol engine and a choice between a six-speed manual and a CVT semi-automatic gearbox.
The 1.3-litre petrol model is happiest when it is around town. It isn’t exactly quick (it only produces a modest 102hp) but it’s reasonably quiet and Honda claims it’ll return up to 55.4mpg. You can expect it to manage a figure in the high forties in real-world conditions.
The Honda Jazz’s six-speed manual gearbox is uncharacteristically slick for such a small family car and helps make light work of long journeys. The optional CVT automatic gearbox might take some of the stress out of driving in heavy traffic but it’ll set you back around a thousand pounds across the range.
It drones loudly when you accelerate too, keeping the revs high, and makes the Honda Jazz feel slow when you ask for a burst of acceleration. Stick with the manual unless you really need an auto. The only bonus is that the auto does bump up the official fuel economy ever so slightly. It claims up to 60.1mpg on the basic S trim.
The Honda Jazz’s engine might be happiest pottering around town, but its suspension certainly isn’t. It bounces and fidgets over the bumpy and poorly maintained roads that are a feature in many towns. In contrast, it settles down when you pick up the speed.
Despite the bumpy suspension, town is still the place where the Jazz feels happiest. The slightly raised seating position gives you a good view out of the large windows – better than in most small cars. Those big windows mean there are fewer blind spots to worry about, too.
It’s a doddle to park, too, thanks to its light steering and pedals. To make getting into tight spaces even easier, the mid-range SE model is the one to go for, thanks to the front and rear parking sensors it comes with as standard. EX models also get a reversing camera.
All models also get cruise control as standard, but long journeys can still feel rather tiresome thanks to the amount of wind noise and tyre roar that make their way into the Honda Jazz’s cabin at motorway speeds.
The Honda Jazz leans slightly more than the Ford Fiesta and SEAT Ibiza in tight corners – but not to the extent that your passengers will feel carsick. It feels reasonably nippy – especially versions fitted with a manual gearbox – but it’s nowhere near as fun to drive as the perky Fiesta or Ibiza on a country road.
Euro NCAP awarded the Honda Jazz an impressive five-star safety rating in 2015. The tests have been made significantly stricter since then, however, but the Honda’s automatic emergency braking feature – a system that’ll automatically apply the brakes if the car senses an imminent collision – helps make it one of the safest small cars on sale.
For even more peace of mind, SE models and above come with automatic headlights, forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition and lane-departure warning systems as standard.
The Honda Jazz cabin won’t win any style awards, but it’s all fairly sensibly laid out. Sadly, some cheap materials and a rather frustrating infotainment system let the side down.