I’ll readily admit, I was a little sceptical of the new Jazz. After a week of living with it, however, I have a new understanding of why customers buy them in their droves.
That’s not to say the Jazz is without its faults, however, though in reality, the benefits far outweigh the pitfalls.
Whilst I had the Jazz, I was booked to go and see my in-laws in deepest North Devon. That’s a 2.5-hour, near 170-mile journey each way for me. Mixing motorways, dual carriageways and narrow country roads, it would be a truly thorough test of the Jazz’s mettle.
Immediately the Jazz put itself firmly in my ‘good books.’ One of my greatest bugbears is badly- designed cupholders. While it’s a trivial issue, the Jazz’s were well-designer and situated in front of the air vents, meaning your beverage can be kept warm or cool to a certain degree with the A/C. Whether this was a deliberate feature or a happy accident, it was well-received nonetheless.
On the seemingly endless M4/M5 stint of the journey, the Jazz was comfortable and surprisingly competent as a motorway cruiser. It handled bumps in the road well and testing the advanced lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control systems showed good results, though I did find the Jazz moved around in the lane more under lane-keeping assist than the recently tested Honda CR-V.
Class-leading space has been put to good use in the Jazz, offering far more of an ‘airy’ cabin feel than expected from a car in its class. The seats in the cabin were impressively comfortable, offering plenty of support and comfort on long journeys, but taller occupants may find the back of their legs catch on the seat bases when fully pushed back. Rear seat room was impressive, but this did come at the expense of boot space.
Thankfully, the Jazz has smart design on its side here the boot is impressively large at 304 litres, trumping both the Yaris and the Fiesta, while the shape of it is impressively square which makes it far more versatile and usable than you may expect from a car in this class. I managed to fit several suitcases, an overnight bag and a set of bedding in the boot without any drama.
Elsewhere in the cabin, the Jazz implements a lot of styling cues from the Honda E, most notably the two-spoke steering wheel. The digital display is a nice touch, but feels cramped – the setup from the CR-V would do better here, or a one-piece digital dash.
Thankfully, all controls for the A/C are still physical buttons and switches, while the infotainment system is easy to use. Sadly, I did find the touchscreen a little laggy, and CarPlay was frustratingly slow to respond, especially when controlling music via the multifunction steering wheel.
Once off the motorway and A-roads however, the Jazz driving dynamics disappoint a little. Whilst never pitched as a sporty car in any way, the level of body roll and vague-ness of the steering was a problem on the twisting roads of North Devon. Even travelling under the limit, I found myself becoming car sick – and that’s only ever happened one other time in my entire life while driving. Changing direction is vague, while the lane-keeping assist fought constantly against my steering input, meaning I switched it off immediately after getting in the car for all further journeys.
As expected around town is where the Jazz shines the most. If your throttle inputs are gentle enough, the Jazz will happily glide around town in EV mode which is wonderfully serene. Once warmed up, the switch over to ICE goes almost unnoticed, but unfortunately, the CVT transmission was incredibly invasive and noisy under heavy acceleration, promptly ruining the peace and tranquillity.
It’s not all bad, however – on lower-speed roads, the Jazz was composed, and even approved by the rear-seat occupants for doing make-up on the go, making this an ideal family car. Fantastic visibility is a Jazz hallmark, and I’m pleased to report the latest model has some of the best visibility of any new car I’ve driven, period.
If great visibility isn’t enough for you, then the top-spec EX model also benefits from front and rear parking sensors, as well as a reversing camera. Heated front seats and steering wheel also feature on the EX, which are a welcome feature as we start to creep into the throes of autumn.
Having lived with the Jazz for a week, I can fully understand why they are so popular; Around town it’s fantastic, driving it is a piece of cake and there’s more than enough space and practicality for any small family. To top it all off, I never once saw less than 61 mpg – astonishing!
The EX trim version is well kitted-out, and clever design makes the Jazz a wonderfully easy car to live with. If you mostly drive in urban areas, low-speed roads or motorways, then the Jazz is great. If you have plenty of winding, high-speed or technical roads on your daily commute, however, the CVT transmission and vague handling spoil an otherwise very capable car.
Car reviewed: Honda Jazz 1.3 i-VTEC EX CVT, on the road price £18,860 0-62mph 12.3secs Top speed 113mph Engine 1318cc 4 cylinder unleaded Euro 6 Fuel Economy Combined 46mpg CO2 emissions 111g/km Max Power [email protected] Torque [email protected] Transmission CVT continuously variable with manual mode
Kieran Bicknell offers his fresh take on car reviews by making the most of his dynamic, yet detailed approach to writing. Having graduated from university with a BA (Hons) in Photography and spending a number of years as a freelance automotive photographer. Kieran is now putting his knowledge and writing skills to use, with the ability to supply both written articles and imagery. Kieran feels at home in anything from small superminis to the latest SUVs, and relishes the opportunity to drive, photograph and write about anything with four wheels.