Say what you will about it, the Jazz is the
unsung hero of Honda’s entire range. No, won’t set your pulse racing, and while it’s
your Type Rs and your NSXs and what have you that steal all the attention, the Jazz is
just here, quietly doing what it does. And it does what it does very well indeed.
For example, did you know it’s won all kinds of awards for things like its reliability,
it’s been named the most reliable car in Britain for more than a decade and a couple
of years ago, it was even named the car you’re most likely to lust after on Valentine’s
Day. Not sure about that one, not in that yellow
anyway, but… Yeah… See part of the reason for the Jazz’s evergreen
success, apart from the fact that it’s inexpensive, unintimidating and reliable is that it’s
just so flippin’ useable. This latest version’s longer than any other Jazz previously and
has also had its wheelbase stretched so it’s even more cavernous and practical inside.
TARDIS-like then, but we’ll get to that later on. Up here in the front, things are
comfortable, there’s good visibility out the windscreen and it’s an easy car to get
to grips with as well thanks to simple, well-laid out controls and this decluttered dash that’s
a big improvement on the last model. Sure, it’s plasticky and not really much
to look at, but then it’s all about value for money and not exemplary German-grade fit
and finish. Our test model, the range-topping EX Navi trim, comes with plenty of goodies
too like a Garmin sat-nav, all-round parking sensors and automatic lights, plus DAB radio
and a reversing camera. If you’d like to know more about the interior
of the Jazz, it’s different trim options and whatnot, you can click on the link to
see our earlier review, but in the meantime let’s get into the back and crack on with
the Jazz’s real party piece: practicality. Like many new Hondas the Jazz comes with those
brilliant Magic Seats, which flip upwards to unveil storage room for luggage down here.
Fold them down and sit in the back and there’s enough room back here to genuinely make you
question the liveability of many larger crossover/SUV-type cars, with plenty of leg and headroom, comfy
seats and doors that open wide to make getting in and out a breeze.
With 354 litres it’s got more boot space than many small people carriers too, and trumps
most hatchbacks by around 70 litres. The boot lip is low, the opening is well proportioned
and so it should take even awkward and heavy items with ease. Fold them Magic Seats flat
and there’s 1,314 litres of space, plus handy things like anchor points and a luggage
net for securing loose bits and bobs. Simple enough engine lineup to choose from
too, given that there’s only, err, one engine. It’s a 1.3-litre naturally aspirated petrol,
which makes exactly 100bhp. No Honda VTEC YO shenanigans here, as you might expect,
but it’s very very smooth and very refined around town particularly, which is really
what you’ll want. We’ve previously tested it with the standard
manual gearbox, but this one comes with the optional CVT auto and, man oh man, this CVT.
I’m not usually one for ragging too hard on CVTs and there are a few I actually quite
like, but the droning, power-sapping qualities of this one… It’s like a Dementor’s
Kiss… I have to be fair though, it’s quite easy
to drive – the Jazz is an easy-going car anyway, usefully agile when it needs to be
as the steering’s quite quick and it can be quite sharp, but it’ll spend most of
its lifetime just moseying on up and down the road at no particularly great speeds.
In that respect the CVT is probably the gearbox of choice for those who want to just get on
with minimal fuss, and it’s more economical than the manual too. Honda says this one can
return up to 57.6mpg with 114g/km of CO2, about two mpg higher than the manual and 6g/km
less. If there’s one big niggle about the Jazz,
it’s that it’s quite expensive for what it is. Prices start from £13,500, which mightn’t
sound like a huge amount in the grand scheme of things, but consider that it’s £3.5k
more expensive than its main rival, the Nissan Note.
This test car? £17,855 as standard, plus the yellow paint which is £500, so a total
of £18,355. Worth the extra cash though? Well if you’re
on the look for a compact but hugely practical and reliable hatchback that’s modern but
not too complicated, then yeah. It’s excellently fit for purpose, and while
it’s not one to fall in love with necessarily, it’s one very usable, very clever car.
But what do you think of the new Jazz? Let us know in the comments section below and
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