Honda Jazz review
The Honda Jazz supermini delivers practicality, excellent fuel economy and improved on-board tech, but cheaper rivals could prove tempting.
Honda continues to try and make the Jazz supermini relevant to younger customers. The fourth-generation car aims to attract buyers interested in better fuel economy, up-to-date connectivity and reasonable running costs. Does it succeed? In part, yes - it’s super-efficient, furnished with new infotainment tech and should hold its value well.
On the downside, the Jazz is still a boxy, uninspiring shape and lacks the fun factor other rivals offer. However, the hybrid powertrain is impressive, and if you prioritise practicality over style it could be the right choice. Just remember to drive a hard bargain at the dealership on those high list prices.
About the Honda Jazz
If you’ve heard of the Honda Jazz, you’ll probably be in one of two camps. Either a die-hard loyal customer, in awe of the genius practicality on offer, or someone who believes Honda’s supermini is most definitely for someone of a certain age. Whichever side you’re on, what's clear is that the Jazz has certainly suffered from a long-lasting image problem.
Shortly after the Jazz’s UK launch in 2002, the Japanese manufacturer released its now famous television advert declaring ‘Isn’t it nice when things just... work’. Well, never a truer word spoken - the Jazz has fulfilled the practicality brief with reassuring ease, whether operating as a traditional small five-door family hatch, or showing off its versatile load-carrying capability.
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It’s dependable, too. The Jazz was voted Most Reliable Car in our 2014 Driver Power customer survey, and the model consistently features highly in the annual customer satisfaction poll.
In today’s fast-moving, connected world, where image is so often everything, customers demand good looks, the latest tech and have at least one eye on fuel economy and emissions. Improvement in these areas is the focus of the latest Jazz.
In truth, the Honda Jazz has never really been able to compete in terms of sales with the vastly more popular Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Renault Clio. Throw in competition from the Volkswagen Group in the shape of the capable VW Polo, SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia, and it’s easy to see why the Jazz finds it hard to stand out among the huge number of accomplished superminis. To compound the issue there are also other rivals for potential customers to consider - Peugeot’s desirable 208 is a standout choice, while there’s also the Mazda 2, Kia Rio and Hyundai i20 waiting in the wings.
With the fourth-generation Jazz, Honda has decided on a single hybrid engine option, using a 1.5-litre petrol unit and two electric motors to deliver a total output of 108bhp and a useful 253Nm of torque. As ever, the bits you don’t see are particularly well engineered, and Honda has fitted its latest e-CVT transmission to the Jazz. The engine sends drive through a fixed-gear set-up, which Honda claims is smoother and more efficient than a conventional CVT automatic gearbox.
Trim options are equally easy to get to grips with. There are three in total, starting with entry-level SE, moving on to the mid-spec SR and then top-of-the-range EX. The base SE car is a curious choice, as it offers kit like adaptive cruise control and automatic air-con, but forgoes items such as alloy wheels, parking sensors and smartphone connectivity. With the range starting from almost £19,000, it’s an odd specification. The SR trim is the sweet-spot of the range, including all of the above and a larger 9-inch infotainment screen.
Top-spec EX cars come with luxuries such as heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and sat-nav, as well as rear privacy glass and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Honda has also introduced the Jazz Crosstar model to sit alongside the regular five-door hatchback. It features a raised ride height, body cladding and roof rails to give it a pseudo-4x4 look, although don’t expect any off-road ability. Only available in top EX trim, it’s more expensive than the regular car, less efficient and the luggage capacity is also reduced by six litres. In our opinion, it’s out of step with the overall ethos of the Jazz and won’t do much to drive much needed sales.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Honda Jazz supermini delivers practicality, excellent fuel economy and improved on-board tech, but cheaper rivals could prove tempting.
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Jazz is available with a single hybrid engine option, offering solid performance and superb fuel economy.
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsHigh list prices for the Jazz are offset by excellent economy and low emissions, while residual values should hold up well.
- 4Interior, design and technologyWith a fresh interior design and new on-board tech, Honda will be hoping to attract younger customers to the Jazz.
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Jazz still holds the ace card for practicality; nothing in the supermini class comes close to the versatile ‘Magic Seat’ system.
- 6Reliability and safetyCustomers rate the Jazz’s reliability, while Honda continues to offer impressive levels of safety.