The Honda Jazz has traditionally appealed to drivers for whom reliability and interior space are the priority.
Sure, it’s a good-looking thing too but its strengths are ultimately practical rather than aspirational.
Reliable and comfortable
Honda’s reliability is legendary, and I came across nothing that made me reconsider that might be the case here. The Jazz took 12th place in the Auto Express 2016 Driver Power Survey (the Honda Civic came 7th) and the fit ‘n’ finish of my test car were well up there with the best in its class.
It also comes with a three year, 90,000 mile warranty, 30,000 more than almost all of its competitors bar Hyundai (five years and unlimited mileage) and Kia (seven and 100,000), which demonstrates that Honda is prepared to put its money where its mouth is.
A spacious interior
The interior space the Jazz offers is, if anything, even more incredible than its reliability.
For a car that is slightly narrower, and only an inch longer, than a Ford Fiesta, the Jazz’s ability to seat four full-size adults (five at a pinch) plus their luggage is complete comfort is otherworldly.
The old sitting-behind-yourself test beloved of motoring journalists normally only works if you are a regular height; at 6’ 3” even the largest cars struggle to seat me behind my notional self. Not the Jazz. I’d happily sit back there behind myself for hours if necessary.
Part of this engineering sleight of hand is due to the high roof and upright seating position, a configuration that makes it considerably easier to fit four tall people in such a tiny wheelbase.
This does make the driving position is a bit upright, something that isn’t helped by a lack of under-thigh support, but it is still quite comfortable, even for longer periods.
Lets the side down on long motorway trips
Having said that, the car itself is better suited to short, city-style journeys rather than epic road-trips; I did a couple of longish motorway miles and found it to be a much nicer car at 60mph than 70.
This wasn’t a reflection on the excellent 1.3-litre engine or chassis, but was almost entirely due to the dreadful CVT automatic gearbox, which is utterly unresponsive and makes an otherwise very pleasant car pretty awful to drive.
Moving the selector back into ‘sport’ helps a lot (in that it does actually create extra forward momentum and noise instead of just noise) but even driven in this way it isn’t a great option. My advice is to stick with the six-speed manual, which is far, far nicer to use and turns a near miss into a sure-fire winner.
A few little niggles
The car’s handling is wieldy rather than satisfying. Large potholes can be heard as well as felt and the damping sometimes struggles to catch up with the suspension movement when you’re hustling along a bumpy country lane.
The ride is a bit on the stiff side, which is the trade-off for decent body control. On the whole, however, it does what it needs to do very competently and I’m sure that few owners would find much to complain about.
Safety is another priority
Safety is another Jazz strength and even the cheapest models having low-speed autonomous braking as standard in addition to a full suite of airbags, and hill start assist. If you move even one step up from the basic ‘S’ trim level then you’ll be able to count on forward collision warning, an intelligent speed limiter, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, and automatic headlights too.
My top-of-the-range EX Navi featured everything a sybaritic driver could possibly ask for, including a very good sat-nav, reversing cameras, keyless entry, and Honda’s CONNECT infotainment system, which works very well despite looking a bit old-fashioned.
The pricing isn’t outrageous but Honda isn’t known for giving huge discounts, which might hurt when you buy one but their rock-solid residuals will help lessen the pain when the time comes to sell.
Having said that, carwow claims that savings of up to £1,500 are possible: A manual SE is probably the sweet-spot of the range, and it will cost you £15,145 before negotiations and at that price it makes an awful lot of sense for anyone who regularly potters about with a car full of people.
Power – 100bhp
Torque – 91 lb ft
0-62mph – 12 seconds
Top speed – 113mph
Kerb weight – 1,132kgs
Official average fuel consumption – 57.6mpg
Honest John real world fuel consumption – 49.6mpg
CO2 emissions – 114g/km
VED class – Band C
Towing capacity (braked) – 1,000kgs
Towing capacity (unbraked) – 450kgs
Warranty – 3 yrs/90,000 miles
Price – £17,705
Price as tested - £18,205
The Ford B-Max isn’t quite as ingenious as the Jazz at conjuring space out of nowhere but it’s nicer to drive and probably easier to live with.
The best of the rest
The Nissan Note is roomy and cheap to both buy and run.
If reliability and interior space are priorities for you then nothing beats the Jazz. Just make sure you get the manual gearbox if you enjoy driving…
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