Honda’s jaunty Jazz makes loads of sense

PUBLISHED: 10:50 21 January 2016

Latest Honda Jazz supermini is even more spacious and practical with ingenious stowage thanks to its Magic Seats.

Latest Honda Jazz supermini is even more spacious and practical with ingenious stowage thanks to its Magic Seats.


Age should be no barrier to the versatile appeal of Honda’s new Jazz which makes light work of travelling in space, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Age-old quandary

Why, when praising practicality, spouting about space and explaining the enjoyment of Honda’s latest Jazz supermini, did people put it down to an age thing as I have just turned 55.

Honda has done a lot to bring its customer age profile down – radical Civic and tearaway Type-R and new HR-V crossover – and the jaunty Jazz, now in its third generation, certainly looks young at heart. Finished in Attract Yellow, like egg custard on wheels, it couldn’t help but attract!

Honda Jazz

Price: Honda Jazz EX Navi 1.3i-VTEC manual £16,325 (range from £13,495, CVT automatic gearbox adds £1,100)

Engine: 1,318cc, 102PS, four-cylinder petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 11.5 seconds; top speed 118mph

MPG: Urban 45.6; extra urban 62.8; combined 55.4

CO2 emissions: 120g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 19%

Insurance group: 13 (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 90,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 3,995mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,980mm; H 1,550mm

All for one

A 1.3-litre i-VTEC petrol engine replaces the 1.2 and 1.4-litre units and 1.3-litre hybrid system – the only choice is six-speed manual or automatic CVT gearboxes.

Said to combine the performance of the 1.4 with the fuel economy of the 1.2, the new engine has two distinct characters. It will trickle along at low revs – ideal for urban driving – but, unlike other manufacturer’s small-capacity turbo petrol engines, needs 4,000rpm to feel peppy. That said, being a Honda engine it revs happily, without sounding strained or thrashy, and I still averaged 52mpg.

The manual gearbox has a precise shift, provided you don’t rush changes, while the £1,100 CVT automatic option improves economy and emissions but dents performance.

Watch this space

What really attracts me to the Jazz is Tardis-like levels of space – even more than before – and versatility of the clever seating.

Honda’s ingenious Magic Seats in the back see the cinema-style cushions flip up to accommodate awkward bulky loads like a full-size bike – I fitted in two large suitcases still in their boxes. You can also tuck small bags under the cushions for extra storage when they are in use and still have unrivalled legroom in the back more like a car a class, or even two, bigger. Add huge headroom and, when it comes to space, it’s not just seats that are magic.

More to boot

The Jazz doesn’t skimp on boot space either with a vast 354-litre load bay with low sill which made loading gifts and goodies in a chariot of Christmas cheer for one of Santa’s helpers a doddle.

The 60/40 split rear seat cushion lower and the backs drop flat to create a low, flat load floor with flaps to cover any gaps and aid sliding large items in and out. Simple but effective.

How does it drive

With a more rigid, lighter chassis, re-engineered suspension and wheels pushed well out to the corners the Jazz stays well planted on the road, confident through corners despite noticeable body roll at speed.

The suspension is geared more for ride comfort than driver entertainment – spot on for most customers – but, while generally supple, it’s a little fidgety on poor surfaces with more road noise.

At the wheel

The Jazz is easy to drive and live with, aided the clear, logical layout of the fascia dominated by the large central speedo and seven-inch touchscreen for the Honda Connect infotainment system on all but entry-level S.

While more interesting than the previous model, the interior is more functional than fun with a lot of hard plastics but they’ll also be hard wearing and build quality is first rate but the dark, sombre cabin is so at odds with some bright body colours. No complaints though about plentiful storage bins, boxes and cubbyholes.

It’s easy to get comfortable at the wheel but wide front and rear pillars hinder visibility – fortunately SE models get front and rear parking sensors and EX adds a rear-view camera.

Final say

If the Jazz has grown on me as I get older I don’t care. Age is also about life-experience and wisdom and the Jazz makes loads of sense for people who want a small car but need space and versatility.

If growing older means people accept you will like the Honda Jazz that’s your gain and their loss.

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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