It's a jungle out there. Anyone who regularly commutes into a major city will know all too well what horrors await the unsuspecting motorist. Negotiating the speed bumps, width restrictions and potholes that cover our urban highways is one thing. Surviving the suicidal minicabs, kamikaze pizza delivery mopeds and fellow commuters in the rush to find that elusive parking space are another altogether. Fun, it isn't.
However, while driving conditions verge on the impossible at times, none of it seems to matter when you're in a Honda Jazz. I've been running our long-termer for more than six months and it's tailor-made for the job. From the perfectly weighted controls to the relaxing interior design, driving this car is about as stress-free as you can get. It's also a brilliant piece of packaging. Big on the inside, small on the outside, it can park in gaps most other 'family-sized' cars have to pass over.
Although the odometer reads less than 10,000 miles, I've spent more than my fair share of time behind the wheel of our Jazz. My daily commute regularly exceeds the three-hour mark - yet the distance there and back is less than 20 miles. How depressing is that? Thankfully, I managed to give the car a much needed long-distance run over the Christmas period, transporting the family to various relatives on the annual festive road trip without any problems.
Although the engine noise on the motorway was a bit louder than we would have liked, the average fuel economy figure rose from 38.7 to 39.9mpg. The trip also gave me a good chance to seek out other opinions on the Jazz. Most relatives were fooled, as I was at first, by the proportions, questioning the car's ability to fit four adults and a child seat. But once they stuck their heads inside, they were amazed by the space... and how comfortable the seats are.
The Honda is what marketing types like to call an 80/20 car. That is, 80 per cent of owners will only use 20 per cent of its functions. I can't recall seeing many Jazz owners carrying more than a couple of passengers, and I don't think I've ever seen one at the local dump or DIY centre.
Personally, I couldn't really manage without the versatile seating design, which has been put to good use on many an occasion. For a supermini, the Jazz is amazingly adaptable - press a couple of buttons, swing the seats into position and hey presto - a load area that puts full-size hatchbacks to shame. To date, I've carried a Christmas tree plus a selection of other post-Yuletide waste to the local recycling centre.
In fact the only downside which I have become aware of regarding the car's design is its strange ability to collect more rubbish than cinema seating. Papers, sweet wrappers and crisps seem to get everywhere beneath the flexible fitting - and all of it ends up just out of reach. However, that is a small point and more of a gripe about children than a serious design flaw.
So is the Jazz untouchable in the city streets? Sadly not. It hardly ever snows in central London, so few Londoners have any idea how to drive in such conditions. On the first night of frozen snow for years, four cars were damaged in my street alone - among them the Jazz, which collected its first war wound. The foot-long scratch in the passenger door seemed a result of someone sliding into the parked car. As with the other casualties, there were no details or apologies tucked under the windscreen wiper. Great. I'll let you know what the financial damage is in the next report.