Honda Jazz review
The Honda Jazz is bigger and more practical than ever, with plenty of kit to boot
The last-generation Honda Jazz had a bit of an image problem. It was bought almost universally by the older generation – some of which were so loyal to the brand that they are now on their fifth or sixth model. Younger buyers shunned it though, attracted by youthful rivals like the Volkswagen Polo or Ford Fiesta.
This is the third incarnation of the Jazz, and Honda reckons it has what it takes to shift the demographic and capture sales at the opposite end of the market. With fresh styling and a long list of standard kit – this might be the car to do it.
Available in S, SE and EX trims, all Jazz models get Bluetooth, DAB, cruise control and auto lights and wipers, as well as air conditioning and the brilliant ‘Magic’ rear seats.
SE cars gain alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen and parking sensors all round. It’s this model that represents the best value for money – especially as they also add the Driver Assistance Safety Pack, including traffic sign recognition, forward collision warning and a lane departure system.
Top-spec EX cars are the best equipped, with larger wheels, keyless entry, a rear view camera and climate control. Sat-nav is a £610 option on SE and EX cars.
There’s only one engine to choose from – a 1.3-litre petrol with a six-speed manual or CVT auto. It’ll return up to 61.4mpg when mated to the CVT transmission and smallest wheels, though it’s the mid-spec SE manual we’d recommend. That car gets 56.5mpg and costs an extra £10 per year to tax.
Our choice: Honda Jazz 1.3 i-VTEC SE manual
There’s no denying the new Honda Jazz is more stylish than the old one. Whether or not it can attract younger buyers remains to be seen, but it’s certainly more youthful than the two previous-generation cars.
It gets the same grille and headlights as the new Honda HR-V, as well as a similarly high window line and sharp body creases. Gone is the frumpy body and dull styling, replaced by something striking and athletic.
The interior is fresh too, with all but the basic S model getting a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Go for the top-spec EX and you’ll also get touch-sensitive climate control.
All cars come with the brilliant Magic Seats in the rear, which allow owners to fold flat the back seats in one swift movement, revealing a totally flat floor for carrying bulky items. Up front there’s plenty of support, and all the controls are within easy reach of the driver.
With a 1.3-litre naturally aspirated engine, the Honda Jazz isn’t going to win any drag races. But that isn’t what this car is about. It has a grown-up personality, and thanks to a sixth gear on manual models, feels quite at home on the motorway.
Road and wind noise is well supressed thanks to extra sound deadening in the wheel arches and behind the dash, and the revised suspension means there’s less roll in the corners. Honda has hinted at a faster and more economical turbocharged version – but it’s unlikely to arrive until later in 2016.
Around town the ride is just the right side of firm, absorbing the biggest lumps and bumps without feeling too soft and unresponsive. The steering is quicker too, and while it’s not as sharp as a Fiesta, offers enough feedback to know where the front wheels are pointing.
The 1.3-litre i-VTEC engine delivers its power steadily, and thanks to the lack of turbo is entirely predictable when you require a burst of acceleration. The 0-62mph sprint takes 11.2 seconds and it’ll top out at 118mph. An automatic CVT version is available too, but we’d avoid it unless you absolutely have to have an auto ‘box.
The Honda Jazz has been a consistent performer in the Auto Express Driver Power survey for over a decade. However, being almost eight years old, the previous generation car dropped to 84th out of 200 cars in the overall round-up.
That’s a tough fall from grace, after finishing 11th, 12th and 29rd in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. It is quite normal for older cars to slip down the tables though, and we expect the new model to rectify things at the top of the table.
An ageing product line-up hasn’t helped Honda as a brand either, with the manufacturer falling to 18th (a five place fall) in the 2015 survey. Owners complained about ride quality in particular, but praised their cars for reliability and practicality.
In terms of safety, Honda is hoping the new Jazz will score the full fives stars in Euro NCAP’s crash tests. All but the basic S model get Honda’s Driver Assistance Saftey Pack, which includes kit like lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and forward collision warning.
This is where the Jazz excels. Nothing this side of a Nissan Note has as much outright space, with the little Honda offering more room than many cars in the class above.
Seats up the Jazz boasts a generous 354 litres of bootspace, which is more than 60 litres larger than you’ll find in a Ford Fiesta (290 litres). However, the Jazz’s party trick is its brilliant ‘Magic’ rear seats, which fold completely flat in one swift single motion. With the seats down, there’s a cavernous 1,314 litres of space – more than all its main rivals and only surpassed by the Nissan Note (1,495 litres).
What’s more, the wheelbase is 30mm longer, and from bumper to bumper the car has grown by 95mm over its predecessor. That means rear seat passengers benefit from 115mm more legroom and an additional 20mm of shoulder room. Believe it or not, Honda actually claims more knee room than you’ll get in a Mercedes S-Class.
There are loads of cubbies and storage areas, too. The door bins will take a bottle of water and there are two cupholders ahead of the gearlever. There’s another by the steering wheel and another lidded bin behind the handbrake. The glovebox isn’t huge, but it’s big enough for various bits and bobs.
There’s only one engine to choose from, and due to the fact that most cars are sold to private buyers, Honda doesn’t have much interest in more frugal diesel or hybrid models. The 1.3-litre i-VTEC petrol offers up to 61.4mpg, with the basic S model emitting 106g/km of CO2.
Spec the bigger wheels on the SE or EX models and those numbers worsen to 56.5mpg and 55.4mpg respectively. The CVT gearbox improves things (58.9mpg and 57.6mpg) but we’d avoid it due to the inferior driving dynamics.
On the plus side, like most Hondas, the Jazz's residuals are excellent, and all cars come with a three-year, 90,000-mile warranty. Pre-paid service plans are available – costing £695 for five-years or 62,500 miles.