Car group tests

Honda Jazz vs Skoda Fabia vs Nissan Note

Honda is hoping its new Jazz is a cut above supermini rivals from Skoda and Nissan. We put it to the test...

Honda has had a bumper year in 2015, already releasing its high-performance Civic Type R model and its all-new compact crossover, the HR-V. But with more than half a million superminis sold in the UK over the first half of this year, the Japanese brand knows it can’t ignore the bulk of British buyers.

Enter the new Honda Jazz – a five-door hatchback with a focus on practicality that aims to blend the best bits of a traditional supermini with downsized MPV versatility.

Which is why we’ve lined up the Jazz next to two of the most functional five-doors on sale today: the Skoda Fabia and Nissan Note. Yet the Honda has a tough fight on its hands. With prices starting at £13,495, it’s more expensive than entry-level versions of its rivals, which cost from £10,600 and £9,995 respectively.

We’ve chosen three trim levels that offer a solid blend of performance, practicality, price and equipment to represent what real-world buyers will be looking for. So, can the Jazz slot straight in at the top, or will our contenders – previous group test winners in their own right – give the new supermini challenger a shock?

Head to head

Design

Just because you’ve plumped for a practical supermini doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. But neither the Honda and Nissan is especially exciting to look at. The Fabia is far more visually appealing with its chunky looks and squat, low stance – and that could be enough to drag customers towards Skoda’s impressive dealerships.

Clever touches

Skoda’s designers have dotted plenty of ‘Simply Clever’ touches around the latest Fabia. These include an ice scraper hidden in the petrol flap and a clip in the window for parking tickets. You also get a bottle holder in the glovebox and a phone pocket on the side of the driver’s seat.

Size

Looks and performance might be important, but practicality is just as crucial. At 4.1m long and with the longest wheelbase, the Note is roomiest with its flexible bench seat. The Jazz takes honours for boot space, but the Skoda is the best all-round combination.

Verdict

1. Skoda Fabia

Superior performance, strong practicality and affordable running costs see the Fabia finish first. It’s the most premium choice here and the cheapest. While that might mean you’ll have to add options to match rivals’ kit, it’ll still be the most cost-effective way of tapping into lots of flexibility in the best-driving chassis. Skoda’s excellent aftersales service is the icing on the cake.

2. Honda Jazz

This third-generation Jazz is a definite improvement, even though the 1.3-litre engine feels strained next to the Skoda’s 1.2. It’d be better with a manual box, but then efficiency takes a turn for the worse. The Jazz rescues things with strong safety kit and a good brand image. However, a high price, expensive running costs and a lower equipment spec see it fall short.

3. Nissan Note

It might not set pulses racing, but the Note is a solid performer. Trouble is, in this company that’s not enough. The sliding rear seat boosts usability, yet it’s expensive and feels less upmarket than the Skoda. Plus, the Note’s lower CO2 emissions are countered by poorer predicted residuals and high insurance costs. A dull powertrain and bland styling see it relegated to last place.

Options for similar money

New: Ford B-MAX 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium - Price: £16,195 Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl, 98bhp

Ford’s three-cylinder turbo has lots of torque, so the B-MAX is faster than its power output suggests. Plus, for a similar price in Titanium trim you get lots of kit. There’s also more practicality thanks to the pillarless sliding doors.

Used: MINI Cooper Clubman 1.6 - Price: £14,500 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 118bhp

This budget will buy you a well-equipped, low-mileage, used MINI Clubman. This 1.6 Cooper fits the bill thanks to its premium badge and extra practicality over a hatch. Just watch for the third door, as it opens on the road rather than pavement side.

Figures

 Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 110 SE LHonda Jazz SE Navi CVTNissan Note 1.2 n-tec
On-the-road price/total as tested£14,890/£16,005£16,305/£17,100£15,515/£16,015
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£7,150/48.0%£7,099/43.5%£6,425/41.4%
Depreciation£7,740£9,206£9,090
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£504/£1,009£553/£1,105£495/£989
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,316/£2,194£1,360/£2,267£1,256/£2,094
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost12/£339/B/£2013/£412/C/£307/£354/B/£20
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£479 (3yrs/30,000)£695 (5yrs/62,500)£159/£249/£159
    
Length/wheelbase3,992/2,470mm3,995/2,530mm4,100/2,600mm
Height/width1,467/1,732mm1,550/1,694mm1,530/1,695mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,197cc4cyl in-line/1,318cc3cyl in-line/1,198cc
Peak power 108/4,600 bhp/rpm101/6,000 bhp/rpm79/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 175/1,400 Nm/rpm123/5,000 Nm/rpm110/4,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwdCVT auto/fwd5-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel45 litres/repair kit40 litres/repair kit41 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 330/1,150 litres354/1,314 litres325-411/1,495 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,054/530/1,100kg1,098/473/1,000kg1,124/395/430kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient9.8 metres/0.33Cd10.8 metres/N/A10.7 metres/0.30Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 (1yr)/13512,500 (1yr)/19618,000 (1yr)/225
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.3rd/7th18th/4th28th/25th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars81/81/69/69/5N/A86/82/58/70/5
    
0-60/30-70mph9.4/9.0 secs11.9/10.8 secs12.1/12.5 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 4.5/6.5 secs4.0 secs (kickdown)6.6/10.1 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 10.0/14.2 secs6.7 secs (kickdown)10.7/16.4 s (4th/5th)
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 122mph/2,250rpm113mph/2,500rpm105mph/3,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 49.7/35.5/10.0m51.3/37.1/10.6m50.0/36.7/9.2m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph71/51/65/71dB65/51/65/72dB68/53/67/72dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range46.1/10.2/456 miles44.6/9.9/392 miles48.3/10.7/436 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 46.3/68.9/58.9mpg52.3/64.2/58.9mpg47.9/70.6/60.1mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 10.2/15.2/13.0mpl11.5/14.1/13.0mpl10.5/15.5/13.2mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket142/110g/km/17%146/111g/km/17%135/109g/km/16%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/yes/yes/noSix/yes/yes/noSix/yes/no/yes
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise control£1,000/yes/yesYes/yes/yesNo/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/no/£180No/no/noYes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go£535/no/no£500/no/no£500/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£500/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes

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