Honda Jazz Hatchback review
Clever packaging and spacious interior make the Honda Jazz a versatile supermini contender.
With its incredibly clever folding rear seats and spacious cabin, the Honda Jazz offers the kind of functionality rarely found in conventional small cars. A 2010 mid-life update has further boosted the car’s appeal, while a new hybrid model adds eco-friendly credentials.
Our Choice: 1.4 i-VTEC ES
Styling The Honda Jazz is boxy but well proportioned. Swept back headlights, a slim grille and discreet bonnet lines give the front-end a strong Honda family face. At the back the large tailgate is sandwiched between angular taillights. Hybrid models get a unique grille, while from ES trim onwards you get body coloured door mirrors. Step up to EX and you’ll benefit from alloy wheels and tinted glass.
Interior The Honda Jazz has cab forward and thick A-Pillars, which can cause nasty blind spots, while the driver’s seat is mounted a little high. However, build quality is hard to fault and there’s a reassuring solidity to the cabin. The dash design is well thought out and the chunky audio controls are simple to use, while the straightforward switchgear operates with precision. From ES trim upwards Bluetooth and cruise control are standard, while the range topping EXL-T model has leather and heated seats.
Driving and performance With light controls and reassuring handling the Jazz is a breeze to drive both around town and on the open road. There is some body roll and the steering is over assisted, but in the corners there’s plenty of grip action. The 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrol engines are smooth and wiling, and the manual gearbox has a lovely snappy shift. In contrast the CVT transmission is an acquired taste, as under acceleration it holds the revs intrusively high until you release the throttle. Unlike rival hybrid systems, the Honda IMA set-up doesn’t run in electric mode at low speeds, although it does help boost mid range urge. The combination of a firm ride and average refinement mean the Jazz is a tiring long distance companion.
MPG and running costs With no diesel engine available, the most fuel-efficient model in the range is the new IMA Hybrid. With emissions of 104g/km and claimed economy of 62.8mpg it’s also the cleanest offering. But it isn’t as frugal as leading diesel supermini rivals. The conventional 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol models have a combined economy of 53.3 and 50.4mpg respectively, while 1.4-litre CVT versions are a fraction cleaner than its manual equivalent. Finally, above average residuals will be welcomed by private buyers.
Practicality Practicality is the Honda Jazz’s trump card. By moving the fuel tank from its usual spot in the rear to under the front seats, Honda created space for its award winning Magic Seats. These can be folded flat into the floor in one movement to create a 1,320-litre luggage space. Alternatively the bases fold upwards cinema style to allow tall items to stand upright. Thanks to tilting seat backs and a flat floor passenger space is good.
Reliability and safety The Honda Jazz has a strong reputation for reliability, earning it an excellent 12th place finish in our 2011 Driver Power survey. You can also expect a high level of customer service, with dealers earning praise for their technical knowledge and willingness to help. When it comes to safety even the entry-level S model gets curtain airbags, stability control and a trio of rear headrests. As a result the Jazz secured a five star rating in the EuroNCAP assessment.