The 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
You can get the Honda Jazz with two petrol engines and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox.
If you regularly drive around town you’ll want to consider the 1.3-litre petrol model. It isn’t exactly quick (it only produces a modest 102hp) but it’s reasonably quiet and Honda claims it’ll return 56.5mpg. You can expect it to manage a figure in the high forties in real-world conditions.
If you’re looking for something a little sportier or do occasional motorway journeys you should consider the 130hp 1.5-litre petrol model. It’ll reach 62mph from rest 2.5 seconds faster than the 1.3-litre car and has much less trouble keeping up with fast-moving motorway traffic as a result.
It’s not quite as frugal as the 1.3 – it’ll return around 42mpg in normal driving conditions compared to Honda’s claimed 47.9mpg – and you’ll still need to change down a few gears before overtaking slow-moving vehicles, but the six-speed manual gearbox is so slick you won’t mind too much.
You’ll want to consider a 1.6-litre diesel model instead if you do lots of long journeys. This 120hp Civic will accelerate from 0-62mph in a respectable (but hardly spritely) 9.8 seconds but easily outstrips the petrols in the fuel economy stakes. Honda claims it’ll return 80.7mpg but even in normal driving conditions you can expect to see a figure in the high sixties.
It’s also impressively quiet at low speeds for a diesel engine and it’s also happier pulling heavier trailers than the petrols. You can’t get it with an automatic gearbox but the standard-fit six-speed manual is impressively smooth and very easy to use around town.
Sadly, the same can’t be said of the Jazz’s optional CVT automatic that’s available on the 1.3 petrol. It makes the Jazz feel a little sluggish at slow speeds and keeps the engine at high revs when you accelerate where it produces a rather loud drone.
The Jazz’s rather wheezy 1.3-litre engine will really struggle with heavy loads
The 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 helps take some of the stress out of driving in heavy traffic but it’ll set you back £1,100 across the range. It drones loudly when you accelerate too and makes the Jazz feel slow when you ask for a burst of acceleration. Stick with the manual unless you really need an auto.
The Jazz’s petrol engines might be happier pottering around town, but its suspension certainly isn’t. It bounces and fidgets over small bumps and on poorly maintained roads. It soon settles down when you pick up speed, however.
Despite the bumpy suspension, town feels like the Honda’s natural habitat. Its large windows and slightly raised driving position give you a better view over the road ahead than in most small cars and there are fewer blind spots to worry about thanks to the large windows.
Its light steering and pedals make it a breeze to park, too. For a little extra help maneuvering into tight spaces, pick a mid-range SE model – they come with front and rear parking sensors as standard. EX models have a reversing camera that makes it even easier to back into really tight spaces.
Unfortunately, plenty of wind noise and tyre roar worm their way into the Jazz’s cabin at motorway speeds which can make long journeys rather tiresome. Thankfully, all models come with cruise control as standard.
The 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 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 – help 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.