Honda Jazz.


   Jazz: a type of music, black American in origin which emerged at the beginning of the 20th century, characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm.

Or automotively speaking…

   Honda Jazz: A small hatchback sub-compact type car Japanese in origin which was first seen in Europe in 2002, characterized by its MPV type styling, legendary reliability and hugely versatile and capacious interior.

   It’s a generalisation perhaps, even a stereotype (and a lazy one at that) that both are more regularly enjoyed by, now, how shall I put this? A more mature audience.

   If ever there was a small car that offered almost unrivalled levels of practicality and space in such compact package the Honda Jazz was it. No wonder those with the silver hair, or in some cases no hair at all, love it. It incorporates what Honda call Magic Seats; the rears fold flat in just one movement to create a completely flat load space, or, alternatively, because the fuel tank sits further forward and thus frees up space, the seat bases can be lifted up cinema-seat style in order to create a taller space behind the front seats that will accommodate loads such as bicycles or your latest lofty purchase from the garden centre. There’s more room inside a Jazz (354 litres with the rear seats up and 897 litres with them folded) than there is in a Ford Focus, and yet the Jazz is the smaller car.

    Up front too there’s a multitude of cup-holders and cubbies to stop things such as your gloves, your glasses, your bottles, or your Werther’s Original rattling around. Sorry, that’s enough of the old references for now.

   There is in fact a new Jazz. For 2016 it’s been given a thorough makeover that sees it gain a far more modern “flowing wing” face, some very stylish creases in its bodywork – what those in the know call character lines – and even a funky new colour palette with which to show them off, chosen to help make the Jazz appeal to a younger market. Our car came in a very funky shade Honda call Attract Yellow, finding it in a carpark was easy.

  Regardless of your preferred new hue, whichever spec Jazz your budget allows standard equipment is generous. Entry level S models get air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter and dusk sensing auto lights – their auto-dipping function is superb. Go up a level to SE spec (as tested and priced from £14,595) and you’ll benefit from the addition of front and rear parking sensors, electric and heated mirrors, and 15" alloys. You’ll also get Honda's Driver Assistance Safety Pack plus the extra reassurance of five advanced active safety aids,  whilst even deeper pockets bag the EX model with keyless entry and start, automatic climate control, a six-speaker audio upgrade, 16-inch alloy wheels and front fog lamps. Whatever the spec every Jazz gets Honda's City-Brake Active to help avoid low-speed bumps and an all-important Euro NCAP 5 star safety rating.

     It is perhaps worth spending the extra for either the SE or an EX however as both come with Honda’s Connect in-car infotainment system as standard. It’s an app-based 'pinch, swipe and tap' interface accessed via a seven-inch touchscreen that sits in the centre of the Jazz’s dash. There’s an Integrated Garmin navigation available as an option on SE and EX models too. Having used it I can say it’s actually pretty good, once you’re used to it that is. The touchscreen’s volume control for the radio take some practice too. The chunky heater controls on the other hand are a paragon of simplicity.

  As too is the way the Jazz drives.  You do have to stir it along a little with its six-speed gearbox – maximum torque doesn’t arrive until a heady 5000rpm – but like the rest of the controls the shift does have a light and accurate action. Visibility is near goldfish bowl standards, and despite evidence to the contrary being played out in every supermarket car-park you can think of, the Jazz has a black-cab rivalling turning circle. Honestly it’s a doddle to park. 

   Don’t however expect to feel too involved. As happy as the 1,318cc motor (the only choice of engine in fact) is to rev its little heart out all day long, its performance is best described as adequate as opposed to abundant. There’s not a lot of feedback through the Jazz’s thin-rimmed steering wheel either. Also, the ride’s pretty choppy too.

    All-in-all the Jazz majors on being easy to live with, rather than being exciting to drive. Driven carefully (how may Jazzs do you know that aren’t?) it’ll easily top 50mpg on the combined cycle, plus it’s Tardis like packaging means it’ll happily double as the family van when the need arises. It could be argued it’s expensive for what it is: the doors shut with hollow sounding clang rather than a reassuring sounding solid clunk and the front seats feel flat and offer little in the way of support. But, it is hugely practical, brilliantly reliable, and incredibly easy to live with.

   That’s why the Jazz has such a loyal following. And, if this new Jazz is anything to go by, it’s one that’s set to continue.



Honda Jazz 1.3 i-VTEC SE Navi Manual

Engine: 1,318cc, 4Cyl, 16V Petrol

Transmission: 6 speed manual. Front Wheel Drive

Power: 100 bhp @ 6000rpm

Torque: 90 lbft @ 5000 rpm

0-62mph: 11.3 sec

Max Speed: 113 mph

MPG: 56.5 combined.

CO2: 116 g/km

VED Band: C

Price: £15,605 (car driven £16,105)

Many thanks to Honda’s UK press office for the loan of the Jazz


Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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