The new Honda Jazz
An astonishing number of Honda Jazz owners buy another and the third generation version we’re looking at here aims to keep them loyal.
The Jazz rides on Honda’s new global B-segment chassis and as such is both lighter and more structurally rigid than its predecessor. The suspension is also lighter, with struts up front and a torsion beam rear end combining with a longer wheelbase to better isolate road noise and surface imperfections. The revised dampers also assist in improving ride quality and a redesigned electric power-assisted steering system claims to deliver better feedback for the driver. Yes, you heard that right: feedback. In a Honda Jazz. Things have certainly changed.
Comprehensive soundproofing brings further improvements, and Honda has worked at reducing engine, road and wind noise. Noise paths over the body were forensically scrutinised and aerodynamic covers under the body reduce airflow noise. The volume Jazz engine choice is a 1.3 litre i-VTEC petrol unit with 102PS of power. It’s mated to a six-speed manual transmission which replaces the old five-speed box, and there’s also the option of a semi-automatic CVT transmission. There’s no diesel engine planned, but as before, there’s a petrol/electric hybrid option.
Honda has changed just about everything possible on the outside but it’s a Jazz and you know what? It still looks like a Jazz. Slightly bulbous and unthreatening it remains but some of the detailing is now a bit sassier. At the front, it now features the brand’s current ‘flowing wing’ theme across the grille and headlamps while at the side, there are a pair of cut-in swage lines that rise from the front wheel arch to give shape to the otherwise vertiginous flanks. At the rear, there’s a tailgate spoiler and a practical-looking near-vertical rear windscreen.
The interior has come on in leaps and bounds with a huge windscreen that imparts a genuine feel of airiness up front. It extends way overhead, meeting the roof panel a good few inches aft of where you’d normally expect that junction. This, along with the large front quarter windows, provides respectable forward visibility. Boot capacity measures 354 litres, with space extending to 884 litres with the ‘Magic Seats’ folded. The dash is dominated by either a five-inch LCD multiinformation display or a seven-inch Honda Connect infotainment touchscreen, depending on model grade. The bigger screen is driven by Android phone technology and features smartphone-style ‘pinch, swipe and tap’ operation. In addition, it offers MirrorLink functionality, which means that it’ll replicate the display and workings of your Android smartphone. Those betrothed to Apple will have to buy a clunky aftermarket case.
This smarter third generation Honda Jazz has evolved, with its ethos shifting subtly. One thing hasn’t changed though: ask almost any motoring expert to recommend the supermini they’d buy with their own money and many will still plump for this one. It isn’t the feistiest car of its kind on a twisty road, but we’d trade that for this model’s excellent ride and superb gearbox. Honda dealers will doubtless also be pleased that with optional hybrid power, this car continues to offer an important and topical selling point.
But at the end of the day, that isn’t personally why we’d choose one. For us, it’s still the cleverness of this car’s packaging that impresses most, with its neat magic seating and Tardis-like cabin. It’s true that equipment levels could be higher and cabin materials plusher but against that, build quality is excellent and residual values unrivalled. It all explains why this car has such a dedicated following. Try one and you’ll understand.
Priced from £13,495 on-the-road for the entry-level S model, rising to £17,425 for the flagship EX Navi CVT model.