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Jazzed-up Honda – driving verve and versatility

16:35 15 November 2015

Honda's Jazz boasts some clever features as bright as the new model's burnt orange exterior colour.

Honda's Jazz boasts some clever features as bright as the new model's burnt orange exterior colour.

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Honda’s Jazz supermini is famed for its space and versatility and the new model is even better to drive, says Matt Kimberley.

What’s new?

Welcome to a new take on a hugely-successful idea. Honda has shifted more than 300,000 Jazz superminis in the UK since 2001 and it’s a firm favourite with older buyers. This one, with more aggressive styling, faster steering and more direct chassis set-up, improves its trademark incredibly clever interior space but adds more verve from behind the wheel.

Looks and image

Honda Jazz

Price: £13,495 to £16,815

Engine: 1.3-litre, 101bhp, four-cylinder petrol

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 11.2 seconds; top speed 118mph

MPG: 56.5 combined

C02 emissions: 116g/km

You’ll notice the familiar silhouette even though the new Jazz is longer, with a longer wheelbase and more interior space.

You could argue it has a humble readiness about it, especially on 15in wheels – the smaller of the two sizes. It’s like a little robot friend who’s always ready to help, and it comes in some interesting colours like this burnt orange and a flattering metallic blue.

Space and practicality

The real reason to buy a Jazz is an improbable amount of space inside the car. Honda claims more rear knee room than in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, improved shoulder room for everyone, a boot that’s larger than that of a Ford Focus – and almost as large as a Volkswagen Golf’s – and the so-called Magic Seats.

The bases lift in a jiffy to leave a yawning space behind the front seats, or pull a lever to fold them flat in one motion. Fold the front passenger seat down as well and you can fit loads of almost 2.5m long.

Honda UK thinks 48% of Jazz sales will be automatics, and the newly-tuned CVT does bring tangible advantages for practicality. Sometimes simulating a seven-speed conventional automatic and, at other times, completely variable, it makes life easier in traffic.

Behind the wheel

The Jazz is not a fast car. Fitted with the CVT gearbox it’s a struggle to get up to A-road speeds, which defies its fuel-saving point. The manual gearbox makes better use of the new 1.3-litre engine and benefits from a 10% shorter throw and a 25% lighter action than the old one. The steering ratio is now faster, which transforms the directness of the front end.

Drive incredibly gently at urban speeds and the CVT shines, keeping fuel consumption low – I achieved 62.8mpg on a quiet run.

It rides very well for a car on such small wheels, absorbing lumps and bumps with impressive composure. It’s comfortable, with seats that find a nice balance between the supportive and the soft.

Value for money

Top-spec EX models’ keyless start and digitised air conditioning control panel give a sense of premium quality and solidity, but without them there are ugly switch blanks and dated-looking rotary dials. The CVT gearbox add £1,100 but, as a manual, the Jazz offers seriously impressive usability and everyday practicality for a very reasonable price.

Who would buy one?

The average age of a new Jazz buyer is 61, but Honda hopes the new connectivity features will help bring that down. Impressive safety features are a selling point for everyone, and people in need of maximum load space in a sub-four-metre car should walk this way.

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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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