Used Honda Jazz (Mk3, 2015-2020) review - What’s it like to drive?

Keen drivers won’t find many thrills here, but the Honda is easy to drive and comfortable. The engine choice is very limited

The Jazz has never been particularly exciting to drive, and this version is no exception. Yet with light controls, compact dimensions and excellent visibility the Honda is a doddle to place on the road and inspires confidence on crowded city streets. The engine choice is limited, but the two petrol units are smooth and relatively efficient.

Engines and performance

The 1.3-litre i-VTEC petrol engine delivers its maximum power output at higher revs than rival cars with turbocharged engines. It provides 101bhp at 6,000rpm, but just 123Nm at 5,000rpm.

Performance is therefore leisurely, with the quickest 1.3-litre Jazz – the manual S model – taking 11.2 seconds to do 0-62mph before going on to a 118mph maximum. All manual Jazz models with this engine have the same top speed, but when dealing with low horsepower, every added gram of weight affects acceleration. As a result, stepping up from S to SE specification with its 15-inch alloy wheels adds a tenth to the 0-62mph time (11.3 seconds), while the EX takes 11.5 seconds to do the same sprint.

The CVT, which has an eco focus, slows the Jazz even further. All automatic models can only hit 113mph flat out and the 0-62mph times for the S, SE and EX models are 12.0, 12.2 and 12.3 seconds respectively.

We haven't been bowled over by the CVT auto gearbox, so we’d avoid it unless you absolutely have to have an automatic, because it’s an unpleasant operator; the six-speed manual is much better. Honda knows how to do manual transmissions, and the Jazz's change is light, engaging and sweet.

If you want a quicker Jazz, you have to go for the 128bhp 1.5-litre engine and Sport trim. This is enough to get the car from 0-62mph in just under nine seconds, but it has much the same character as the 1.3, in that its peak power and torque only arrive pretty high in the rev range, so you need to work the engine hard to ensure that it's always working at its best.

On the road

Road and wind noise are well suppressed on the third-generation Jazz thanks to extra sound deadening in the wheelarches and behind the dash, and the revised suspension means there’s less body roll in the corners. However, the engines are noisy when they're worked hard – which they need to be a lot of the time.

The Jazz’s steering is light but doesn’t offer much feel or feedback, while the suspension filters out poor road surfaces admirably, although the Sport certainly has a firmer feel to it. As a result, the chassis is relatively stable – but only up to a point. The Honda is more at home cruising at a relaxed gait or nipping in and out of city streets, where the light steering helps manoeuvring in tight spots. There are plenty of rivals, such as the SEAT Ibiza and Ford Fiesta, that are more involving and rewarding to drive.

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