Honda Jazz – Review
by Liam Bird
“Ooh, this is nice,” says my mother as she climbs aboard the Jazz that Honda have kindly lent me for the week. “Isn’t it spacious; and airy too? I like the colour (mica red). Look at the size of the windscreen.” Once aboard she’s equally impressed with the seats: “Aren’t these comfy?” she says to my dad as he gets in. Dad’s more impressed with the legroom and the way the Jazz’s doors open nice and wide, meaning access is easy. Once inside he’s also surprised how spacious the Jazz is. He remarks that the seats aren’t as low as he was expecting them to be. He’s also impressed with how big the windscreen seems to be too.
My parents have always viewed cars in a different way to me. Whereas I’ve always been more interested in how a car looks, how it sounds, how it’s put together and, most importantly for me, how it drives, for my folks – especially now they’re getting, hmm… how shall I put this…? More mature – practicality is key. Show up in a Bentley an Aston, or an F-Type and neither of them really bothers to bat an eyelid; a Skoda Yeti or a Seat Alhambra on the other hand… This is the first time either of them has been in a Jazz. We’re not even off the drive yet and I’m beginning to think they’ve discovered their automotive utopia.
“A simple system with endless uses”
They’re right, of course – If ever there was a small car that offered almost unrivalled levels of practicality and space in such a compact package the Honda Jazz is it. The rear seats for instance fold flat in just one movement to create a completely flat load space. Or, alternatively, their bases can be lifted up cinema-seat style in order to create a space behind the front seats that will accommodate tall loads such as bicycles or your latest lofty purchase from the garden centre.
There’s a multitude of cup-holders and cubbies too, to stop things such as your gloves, your glasses, your bottles and your Werther’s Original rattling around. Then there are other clever touches such as the multi-position parcel shelf and what Honda calls the double trunk; effectively a way of dividing the boot to suit your every need with a neatly integrated folding floor and cargo nets. Like all good ideas it’s a simple system and proves itself to have endless uses.
Simple, in fact, is the word you could use to describe the entire Jazz interior. Large round chunky buttons control everything from the radio to the air-con, and everything bar the switch to adjust the electric mirrors is exactly where you’d expect it to be and within easy reach. The three dial dash, although very clear, does feel rather dated though, especially when lit by its orange back-lighting, and some of the plastics used lower down on the doors and for the glove-box lids – there are two – feel hard and brittle.
“Subdued driving experience”
It is deceptively spacious however, a feeling enhanced by that cinema-scope windscreen my folks seem so impressed with. And it goes almost without saying: hugely versatile. But ultimately the Jazz’s interior is one that majors on usability rather than luxury, and niceties that we’ve begun to expect these days even in super-minis, such as automatic lights and wipers, a sixth gear and perhaps even a DAB, seem all the more conspicuous by their absence. Even the spare wheel is an option.
None of that doesn’t seem to matter to the Jazz’s core – dare I say sliver-haired – audience however. And neither does the Jazz’s somewhat subdued driving experience. A 0-62 mph time of 11.8 seconds matters not a jot when compared to just how light, easy and precise the Jazz’s steering, pedals and gear-change are. 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 is a doddle to park.
“Easy to live with”
It’s probably for those reasons, the Jazz’s easily attainable 50+ mpg (combined), and for Honda’s enviable reputation of near indestructible engineering and reliability, that the Jazz has been the winner of eight Super-mini Class JD Power Survey awards on the trot. And probably goes some way to explaining perhaps why your parents take to it almost instantly too. The truth is I rather liked how easy the Jazz was to live with, and I’m looking forward to sampling the all-new one that’s been promised will be with us early next year.
Honda will collect the Jazz tomorrow and a Porsche is being delivered to take its place. My parents would have kept the Jazz if they could, but a few more years at least; they know that the Porsche is altogether a little more me.
Honda Jazz 1.4 i-VTEC ES Plus
Engine: 1,339cc, 4Cyl, 16V Petrol
Transmission: 5 speed. Front Wheel Drive
Power: 98 bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque: 94 lbft @ 4800 rpm
0-62mph: 11.8 sec
Max Speed: 113 mph
MPG: 50.4 combined
VED Band: D