Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz: What is it?

The Honda Jazz has always been more mini-MPV than traditional supermini. This third-generation car, launched in 2015, doesn’t mess with a highly successful formula. Its ‘one-box’ shape equates to class-leading interior space and versatility. And you can expect outstanding reliability, too – past versions are among the most dependable cars on the road.

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Honda Jazz: What are its rivals?

The bestselling car in this class (and, indeed, the UK’s bestseller overall) is the Ford Fiesta. It’s more fun to drive than the Jazz, but nowhere near as practical. The Skoda Fabia and Toyota Yaris are perhaps a better fit for buyers interested in sensible, value-for-money motoring. Unlike the Honda, the Toyota is available as a petrol/electric hybrid (the Jazz Hybrid has been discontinued).

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Honda Jazz: Which engines does it use?

The Hybrid is no more and Honda has never offered a Jazz with a diesel engine. So your choice is limited to a 102hp 1.3-litre petrol engine. Yep, just the one. It propels the Jazz to 62mph in 11.2 seconds, or 12.0 seconds if you opt for the CVT automatic gearbox (more on that shortly). Honda’s i-VTEC variable valve timing boosts performance higher up the rev range, without the pronounced ‘step’ in power delivery that characterised VTEC engines of old.

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Honda Jazz: What’s it like to drive?

The Jazz isn’t a particularly fun car to drive, but it’s far from unpleasant. The controls are light and the boxy shape offers good visibility for parking. Ride comfort is noticeably better than the old Jazz, too. Its 1.3-litre engine is adequate around town, but feels a bit breathless on the open road. That feeling is exacerbated by the CVT auto gearbox fitted to our test car, which holds the engine at constant revs when you accelerate. It make for rather noisy and lethargic progress – opt for the six-speed manual if you can.

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Honda Jazz: Fuel economy and running costs

The CVT gearbox may blunt performance, but it has a positive effect on fuel economy. The basic S model returns 56.5mpg with a manual ’box and 61.4mpg with the CVT. Likewise, CO2 emissions are 116g/km or 106g/km, which equates to annual car tax (VED) of £30 and £20 respectively. The Jazz is cheap to insure and its famed reliability should mean low maintenance bills.

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Honda Jazz: Is it practical?

Oh yes. It’s apt that the photo above looks like a huge black hole, because this car will swallow almost anything. With the rear seats in place, boot capacity is 354 litres – about the same as a Volkswagen Golf (a car from the class above). Fold the seats flat and that expands to a whopping 1,314 litres. A Ford Fiesta manages just 914 litres. The Jazz also has Honda’s brilliant ‘Magic’ rear seats, with flip-up bases that create a floor-to-ceiling loadspace.

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Honda Jazz: What about safety?

The latest Jazz hasn’t been subjected to Euro NCAP’s crash tests yet, although the old car scored a maximum five stars. An automatic emergency braking system is now standard, and all cars apart from the entry-level S come with the Driver Assist Safety Pack. This includes a lane-departure warning system, traffic-sign recognition and automatic high-beam headlights. The latter were quick to react and very effective on dark country lanes. However, we’d put a black mark against the new touchscreen media system; its clunky menus force you to take your eyes off the road.

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Honda Jazz: Which version should I go for?

There’s no choice of engines, but we’d avoid the sluggish (and £1,100 extra) CVT gearbox – especially if you drive mostly outside urban areas. Trim levels start at S (£13,495 with a manual gearbox), then rise through SE (£14,595), SE Navi (£15,205), EX (£15,715) and EX Navi (£16,325). We’d opt for the well-equipped SE and spend £100 on a portable sat nav, rather than forking out a hefty £510 for Honda’s built-in nav.

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Honda Jazz: Should I buy one?

Fans of the old Honda Jazz (and there are many) will find much to love in this practical package. And if reliability matches the two previous models, it should be utterly painless to live with. Is that enough? It depends what your priorities are. If you crave driving enjoyment, the Fiesta remain the obvious choice. Equally, the Skoda Fabia offers a better all-round blend of quality and refinement. However, the Jazz is still the most sensible supermini you can buy.

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Honda Jazz: Pub fact

The Jazz is Honda’s bestselling car worldwide. The original (above) was launched in 2001 and immediately won the Car Of The Year award in Japan, where it’s known as the Honda Fit. A stretched version of the car, called the Fit Shuttle, was also sold in Japan.