Honda Jazz review
Practical, efficient and highly-specced, the hybrid Jazz supermini is an attractive if relatively pricey package
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
The Honda Jazz has been around since 2002 in the UK, and over the intervening years its mix of practicality, reliability and low running costs has won a loyal band of repeat customers, who will swear by all of the unassuming supermini’s aforementioned characteristics. All well and good, but the Jazz’s unassuming nature has made it hard to reach customers outside the group of buyers of a certain age and outlook who have traditionally homed in on the little Honda’s common-sense qualities.
The latest model introduced in 2020 is the fourth generation, and whereas in Japan it’s available with 1.3-litre petrol or 1.5-litre petrol-hybrid power, here in Europe we’ve so far been offered only the 1.5-litre e:HEV variant. That decision is in line with Honda’s stated intention to eliminate conventional powertrains from its European line-up by 2022, so don’t hold your breath for a cheaper petrol version here.
Car group tests
Used car tests
Honda’s i-MMD (Intelligent Multi Mode Drive) hybrid set-up is similar to that employed by Toyota in its rival Yaris supermini, consisting of a four-cylinder petrol engine and a pair of electric motors all linked to a CVT auto transmission. Like the Toyota, and in contrast to the Ford Fiesta mild-hybrid, the Honda system does allow for brief periods of electric-only driving - up to a mile, in fact.
While clever hybrid tech means it’s clearly more interesting from an environmental perspective, the Jazz still has its work cut out to catch the attention of those supermini buyers who want to drive something a little more fun or funky. The Jazz’s roster of rivals is an impressively long list of high quality competitors that includes big names such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Renault Clio, a trio of VW Group stablemates in the VW Polo, SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia, and a far from motley assortment of others - the Peugeot 208, Mazda 2 and Hyundai i20 to name a few.
The Jazz comes to the fight with relatively snazzy - for a Jazz - styling, and attractive equipment levels across three model grades starting with the 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 readingPractical, efficient and highly-specced, the hybrid Jazz supermini is an attractive if relatively pricey package
- 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.