Jazz: the most under-rated car on the road?

Honda Jazz

I discovered that to be true after a week at the wheel of the Honda Jazz in which we criss-crossed a large part of Yorkshire. Whitby, Staithes, Robin Hood’s Bay, Goathland, Pickering – you name it, we visited it for the first time since lockdown.

Our wheels? A Honda Jazz, a car I always think is very much under-rated. People buying small cars tend to drift towards the various Volkswagen Group companies or the old favorites of Ford and Vauxhall.

Honda tends to be overlooked and I’m not sure why. Styling? Well, this model is as fresh and appealing as many of its rivals. Prices? Well, Jazz isn’t a bargain basement car but you get what you pay for and the quality is excellent.

I spotted no end of Jazzes. Mainly they were driven by sensible types, older motorists who have no doubt tested a few cars over the years and came to the conclusion that Honda suits them just fine. The sort of driver who leaves flashier style conscious motoring to others.

So, how does Jazz shape up? It’s mainly very good with a good ride, decent handling, easy to fathom switch gear and plenty of space thanks to a folding seat system which should be adopted across the motor industry.

Some say the boot is small. Really? It is deep and wide and flat. It also comes with a useful thick rubber mat which keeps the mud at bay. If you want more space, the seats – dubbed Magic Seats by Honda – fold down with little fuss to expand the load bay from 304 liters to 1,205 liters.

It starts at £19,910, which is competitive especially when you consider the bells and whistles which come as standard these days. Tested here is the Jazz EX Style hybrid model. It has a 1.5 liter petrol engine and an electric motor and this version costs £26,610.

It is a pretty strong package. Now, the gearbox might raise an eyebrow or two for it’s a sequential system. Essentially, it has one forward gear which does everything, plus a reverse gear obviously.

Sequential gearboxes are not everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you are one of those rare remaining beasts who enjoy driving. You have no gear changing to do, simply point and go.

Now, early sequentials were awful. They lacked power and lagged behind. No matter how hard you put your foot down, the car struggled to build up a decent speed. Today’s version, I am happy to report, is much better. Yet, occasionally if you want a turn of speed on an open road you may wish you had a manual gearbox.

Emissions are low and economy is high, and it is especially fabulous on town driving. It has a light steering system and great visibility all round, with even small windows in the A-pillars. Nice touch.

It is easy to see why Jazz has traditionally appealed to an older demographic. It is a small car with the emphasis on space and practicality. But don’t dismiss Jazz as a dull, uninteresting car.

New Jazz now introduces styling enhancements. It has connectivity features including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, satellite navigation, parking camera and Blind Spot Monitor.

All Jazz models now feature Honda’s advanced e:HEV powertrain as standard.

The new Style grade is said to bring “new levels of design sophistication and individuality to the award-winning compact city car”. Available on top-grade EX models, Style specification stands out with a range of black-themed styling enhancements and a bespoke new alloy wheel design.

On sale from £24,845 on the road and available to customers from £259 per month, the EX Style version is easily identifiable through its black body-side mouldings, mirror caps, rear spoiler and a painted two-tone roof. These are complimented by model-specific 16in alloys in black with a machined finish.

Style models retain Honda’s intuitive infotainment technology with seamless in-car connectivity provided by Android Auto and Apply CarPlay, accessed via the 9in touchscreen. As with the rest of the Jazz line-up, the Style grade also incorporates Honda’s innovative Magic Seats, which fold completely flat or flip up to offer unrivaled levels of usability.

Completing Honda’s connectivity offering, the Jazz EX Style also benefits from integrated satellite navigation, a parking camera, and Blind Spot Information, in addition to the comprehensive suite of Honda safety technologies that is included as standard on all models.

Jazz has won a number of awards from magazines including What Car? and which? It was endorsed by Which? as a ‘Best Buy’ and the ‘Most Reliable Small Car’ for 2021-2022. Latest wins follow previous success of recognition from Red Dot Design Award for both the Jazz and the Jazz Crosstar.

Editor at What Car? Magazine, Steve Huntingford said: “The Honda Jazz is a small car that feels like a big one, not only because of the sheer amount of space you get, but also because of the comfort and refinement that it offers. The interior is incredibly thoughtfully designed, too, with lots of clever touches to improve practicality. Plus, the Jazz is an easier car to see out of many rivals, and its hybrid technology allows it to sip fuel, particularly around town.”

The Which? product testing team commented, “practicality is the Jazz’s forte, with generous space for passengers, a decent-sized boot and Honda’s famous ‘Magic Seat’ system.”

The fourth generation Honda Jazz was launched solely with a hybrid powertrain in March 2020 contributing to the Japanese Manufacturer’s commitment to electrify all of its European mainstream models in 2022.

Price: £26,610. The Jazz range starts at £19,910

Engine: 1,498cc petrol engine generating 98ps plus an electric motor

Performance: Top speed 109mph and 0 to 60mph in 9.5 seconds

Economy: 61.4mpg combined

Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles

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