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Honda Jazz Test Drive Review

Date: 03 August 2015   |   Author: John Mahoney

Category: Supermini
P11D price: £15,660
Key rival: Ford Fiesta
On sale: September 2015
Equipment: Six airbags, cruise control, climate control, keyless go, reversing camera, front foglights, autonomous braking (including city brake), 16in alloys, parking sensors, satnav, Bluetooth, electric folding mirrors
Engines: 102hp 1.3 petrol
Trims: S, SE, SE Navi, EX, EX Navi
Transmissions: Six-speed manual, CVT automatic

For two generations stretching back to 2002, the Honda Jazz has proved to be an excellent left-field alternative to the Ford Fiesta.

Offering unrivalled space and unbeatable practicality, thanks to those rear 'Magic Seats' that drop into the floor, the versatile Jazz has gone on to sell 300,000 cars in the UK.

Helping it succeed has been a loyal fan base who love the little Honda's ultra-low running costs and the fact that it's Britain's most reliable car, according to Warranty Direct.

It's strange, therefore, that a car that sounds like a fleet manager's dream has, since birth, been largely ignored by business. That doesn't change with the arrival of the new, third-generation Jazz. Just 25% will go to fleet, mainly the public sector.

Measuring 95mm longer than the model it replaces, the Jazz builds on the strengths that made its predecessor popular. Stretching the wheelbase by 30mm means that rear passengers now have levels of legroom similar to those enjoyed by Mercedes S-Class passengers.

There's also more shoulder space, despite the new Jazz being no wider than before. With boot space being similar to the, far bigger, Golf's, the Jazz continues its tradition of being the automotive equivalent of a Tardis.

Honda has acted on criticisms of the old Jazz's cabin quality. Things have certainly improved but, alas, so has the competition. The Volkswagen Polo still feels a cut above. Meanwhile, the new 7.0-inch infotainment system that Honda has introduced to the Jazz isn't the best. It feels like it needs updating, despite being all-new.

What is good news is the excellent 102hp 1.3-litre petrol engine Honda now offers. It is more efficient than the outgoing 1.2 but provides more performance than the 1.4.

It's still not fast, though, with the 0-62mph sprint taking a leisurely 11.2 seconds. Both the Fiesta and Polo are quicker, although the Honda's motor makes up the deficit by feeling willing and enthusiastic.

Avoid the CVT auto if you're used to a conventional automatic. It's fine around town but feels artificial when stretched, despite featuring a host of improvements. The new six-speed manual, on the other hand, is slick enough to make gear changing fun.

Reducing cabin noise was a priority for the new model, and things have calmed down. Handling-wise, the Fiesta remains our class champ.

The Ford is both more involving to drive and rides better than the Jazz, but Honda has at least narrowed the gap significantly.

Where the case for the Jazz falls apart is over its emissions. Averaging 55.4mpg and emitting 120g/km of CO2 is simply not good enough. All of the car's rivals produce less than 100g/km, while squeezing more miles from every gallon.

Its lower efficiency means the Jazz's extra space carries a premium, but if you're downsizing or need the room, it still makes good business sense.

Honda Jazz 1.3 EX Navi

Model price range £13,495-17,425
Fuel consumption 55.4mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 120g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month £50/£99
Warranty 3yrs/90,000 miles
Boot space (min/max) 354/884 litres
Engine size/power 1318cc/102hp


If you value space over running costs in a small car, the Jazz rules supreme
  • Even more spacious
  • Great engine, better to drive
  • Extremely reliable
  • Rivals more efficient
  • Cabin still feels dated
  • Others offer a smoother ride