- We like...space, quiet at speed
- We don't...cabin plastics look cheap
Honda's new supermini star lures drivers used to bigger, more expensive cars. Watch our video review here
It may be small, but the Jazz is a big car for Honda. In the last four years it's sold strongly, sometimes chasing Ford's market leader, the Fiesta.
And this despite it costing more than most rivals, offering five doors only, and lacking a mpg-stretching diesel. And all that despite, as Honda freely admits, its typical buyer clocking in at an amazing 63 years old.
Honda knows it's on to a good thing with this car, but that it also needed to take an easy-ds-it approach when updating so as not to scare off a band of incredibly loyal buyers, some of whom dutifully trot back to their dealer for a new car every year.
So here's the new one. There's a hint of Civic around its nose, headlamps and playing across its dash. It's even longer and wider inside than its super-roomy predecessor. But not enough for you to notice as you first glimpse it. What you will catch, though, is its strong resemblance to the car it replaces.
Inside it has the clever touches that have long made the car stand out from its rivals. Chief among these are the rear chairs, which tip their bases like an old-style cinema seat and then lock in place, leaving a big upright space that is perfect for transporting, say, gardening tools or a bicycle. If that's not enough, the rear seats also split and fold flat in one action: there's no need to fiddle removing headrests before they'll go down. And, once lowered, they free up a huge amount of space.
What's more, upscale models fitted with the 1.4 petrol engine (the larger of two offered) have a two-level boot, with a shelf and net that dips and swivels to offer a broad choice of load arrangements.
The previous Jazz's main bugbear was its fidgety ride, most noticeable at low speeds in town. The new car fixes this and oaks up bumps nicely while still riding firmly.
Honda expects that a chunk of its buying audience will be trading down from cars a size bigger, maybe more. With this in mind, it has worked hard to ensure that the car rides and drives quietly, matching the levels of hush you'd expect from bigger, more costly cars.
It's also packed with kit you'd expect on bigger cars, too: air conditioning and alloy wheels are standard on all but the cheapest models, which top-line Jazzes include treats such as a panoramic roof and climate controlled air conditioning. Whichever you pick, it'll be a classy place to sit, although some of the plastics involved in the dash and switches look a touch cheap.
There's a choice of an 89bhp 1.2 petrol engine and a 99bhp 1.4. There's no diesel, nor ds Honda expect to offer one soon, if ever.
Official economy figures will be announced closer to the car's on-sale date of October 17 as will CO2 emission numbers. But Honda expects that the 1.2 will return up to 50mpg overall, with the 1.4 lagging only a few mpg behind. Of the two, the 1.2 is the pick - it's almost as strong as the 1.4 and it's as quiet and refined, even when cruising at 70mph.
Pick between manual, five-speed gearboxes that shift sweetly and with a light touch, or the i-shift six-speed automated manual. This shuttles between gears quickly when they are picked manually but it's woolly-brained when left in auto mode, hesitating between gears a moment too long, just when you need the Jazz to summon some git-go.
The Jazz offers fantastic space for small car, taking a family of four plus bags with ease, and comfortably housing a fifth passenger so long as none of the back-benchers are fatties. It may be (relatively) little, but we'd happily propose it as an only car for a family.
It really is that handy. And, if that weren’t enough, it comes in some great colours, including rose pink, a snazzy mauve and mustard yellow. For now, this is the best small car you can buy.
- Engines1.2, 1.4 petrol
- 0-60 mph12.4sec, 11.4sec
- Insurance groupsna
Motors.co.uk value verdict: