Honda Jazz review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Honda Jazz is one of the most practical and reliable superminis on the market

For: 
Practical interior, hi-tech hybrid model, superb reliability
Against: 
Expensive, poor quality interior plastics, no diesel option

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Rather than focusing on being cool like the MINI or Citroen’s DS3, the Honda Jazz is a supermini with a practical twist.

As opposed to its more stylish rivals, which offer a wide range of personalisation options, the Honda Jazz was created with pure practicality in mind. Thanks to Honda's cleverly designed interior, there's no other supermini that can match the Jazz for interior space.

With an all-new third generation of the Honda Jazz set to arrive on UK shores in 2015, buyers should be aware that the current car is starting to feel a little old.

This is reflected in the fact that the Jazz only comes as a five-door, and there is no diesel engine available - only 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrols plus a hybrid. While the Honda Jazz Hybrid improves slightly on the standard car's economy, it can't match the more efficient diesels in younger rivals.

The entry level 1.2 Honda Jazz is the manual-only S, but 1.4-litre ES Plus, ES-T Plus and range topping EX-T models are available with automatic CVT. Si spec cars are the closest to a 'hot' version of the Jazz, but as we’ve said, this car was not designed with sporting credentials in mind.

Honda has made the standard equipment list for the Jazz a bit sparse, so even a spare wheel is extra. Fortunately, Honda dealers might be offering good deals on the Jazz in order to make way for the new model.

Our choice: Honda Jazz 1.4 EX 5dr

Styling

3.2

On the whole, the Honda Jazz is nowhere near as nice to look at as something like a Volkswagen Polo. However, the car's practical nature carries over to the interior with an ergonomically sound dashboard that features a neat button layout.

Furthermore, Honda has given the Jazz an excellent driving position, and leather seats can be fitted as an option to give the interior a further spruce-up. Honda gives the Jazz ES Plus model a few styling additions such as body-coloured handles and alloy wheels, but it is worth noting that the entry level 1.2 S doesn't even get air-conditioning or alloy wheels as standard

Driving

3.2

Honda has made some great driver’s cars in the past such as the S2000 and the Civic Type-R. Unfortunately, the Jazz is not one of these, due to its slow, unresponsive steering and excessive body roll.

A plus side, however, is that driving the Honda Jazz in town is a breeze thanks to its light controls and excellent visibility.

Honda Jazz 1.4 ES Plus interior

Honda's 99bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine is smooth and performs nicely, but it lacks that bit extra that many drivers would want.

Overall, then, the Honda Jazz is just not up to standard when compared to the supermini class leading Ford Fiesta.

Reliability

4.1

Being a Honda, the Jazz is ultra reliable and this is reflected in its 23rd place finish out of 150 cars in our 2013 Driver Power survey. The Honda Jazz should prove about as dependable as superminis get.

As well as reliability being a trump card for the Honda Jazz, it also comes with a good list of safety kit, which includes six airbags, electronic stability control and active head restrains. It's unsurprising then, that Euro NCAP gave the Jazz the full five stars for safety.

Practicality

4.6

What the Honda Jazz lacks in style compared to its supermini rivals, it makes up for when it comes to interior space and versatility.

Thanks to its tall, slab-sided shape, the Honda Jazz provides plenty of head and legroom for rear passengers. Its 379-litre boot capacity can even rival mini MPVs such as the Hyundai ix20, Citroen C3 Picasso and Vauxhall Meriva for space.

Honda has also maximised practicality by fitting the Jazz with a clever boot divider, but what really sets the Jazz apart from its rivals, is the way the rear seats fold completely flat, meaning carrying large loads in the boot is easy thanks to the level floor.

Running Costs

3.1

Like all other cars in Honda's range, the Jazz is pretty expensive compared to established rivals. When you consider the lack of standard kit that Honda fits as standard, the Jazz doesn't appear to be such great value.

Furthermore, the 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre engines in the Jazz get a combined cycle of 50-54mpg and CO2 emissions of 120-129g/km, which isn't great. The Hybrid version increases its combined cycle to 62.8mpg with CO2 emissions reduced to 104g/km, but when compared to the 88mpg combined economy of the of the Hyundai i20 1.1 CRDi Blue, again, it's nothing special.

However, like most Hondas, the Jazz's residuals of 41.6 per cent are excellent, so depreciation shouldn't hurt it too much. An expensive pre-paid servicing pack costs around £700, but it takes care of scheduled maintenance for five years.

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Of course if the Jazz had a VW badge on it Auto Express would have rated it much higher.

gearbox problems

I do wish that Honda would dump the 2.0 Civic Type R engine into the Jazz and just stick a couple of subtle badges on it and watch Mr Audi or BMW man (in their 1.9TDi & 318d's) wonder what on earth is that as you pull away from him at traffic lights! Probably only in my dreams!

Owned my 2003 1.4 auto for 2 yrs totally reliable but a tad slow til you get to motorway speeds. For thrills I own a 600cc motorcycle!

I've been disappointed with 2 things since my wife had one of the very first Jazz's.

- No frugal Small Diesel, to match the Yaris/Polo
- No Jazz Type R.

A Jazz Type-R? Having driven both current and previous 1.4 and an overseas 1.5 petrol I'm not sure about the Jazz's sporting pedigree, sure if you're a bit of balls to the wall kinda driver you can get some excitement out of the Jazz, but that's more because you get to a point where you're not quite sure what the back-end is going to do next - and you can see the whites of they eyes of the Mini Cooper S driver ahead of you who's now just checked his rear view mirror and realised that the Jazz has stayed with him around the round about and is approaching fast and a little sideways, two things about that experience; 1. The Jazz never really felt out of control but it was unsettled and if I'm being honest it was unsettled to the point where an unfortunately placed man-hole cover could have made things really interesting. 2. Ultimately the Mini did pull away once that driver got into things the Jazz simply didn't have the composure to keep with it around the bends nor obviously the power to make it up in the straights.
A Jazz Type-R would need vastly improved suspension, not something that would be easily achieved on the current model, so maybe the next one then? Still Honda should take note that there seems to be genuine interest in a proper sporting Jazz... not just a model with "Go Faster" looks.

I hope the next generation get's a diesel engine.

Lookin for the center ball size on a jazz 02... HELP

Have a 56 plate Jazz. Barely a whisper of a problem from the off. Only gripe: bit noisy. Hear this gen is better as far as that is concerned...

Last updated: 28 Mar, 2014
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