We Review the Honda Jazz

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The Car.co.uk verdict:

4.0

Honda made a radical change with its latest Jazz but it seems to be paying off with good sales and a few awards to place on its dashboard. It’s a more youthful looking thing than before, trying very hard to ditch the retirement home or school run image and take on big rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. It’s also a hybrid with a bit of electric running and good fuel consumption plus it has all the latest tech, even more so in this EX Style version.

Pros

  • Very well equipped with all the good tech
  • Really practical and versatile interior
  • Modern styling gives it wider appeal

Cons

  • Expensive compared to rivals
  • Some hard interior plastics
  • Gearbox can make engine noisy under acceleration

At a glance

  • Looks
  • Practicality
  • Interior
  • Equipment and options
  • Engine and power
  • The drive
  • Safety
  • Reliability
  • Cost
  • Why buy

Looks

4 out of 5

More upbeat Jazz

The design of the latest generation, introduced in 2020, is very different to the Jazz model that we've been used to. It has a happy beluga whale face to it, which has certainly given it a bit more appeal in terms of being youthful and funky. It looks more fun to try and get away from the days of it being a bit of a mummies taxi and it’s definitely a far cry from the last generation which was a little bit humdrum in design, materials and the way it drove. There are elements which still mark it out as a Jazz though, particularly the large glass area and the way the glass tapers on the rear window, which is the only are which really appears to continue a design theme. The EX Style gets some unique features, such as plastic side mouldings to give it a sort of pseudo crossover look. Overall, it’s an attractive thing and even has a few design awards to its name. 

Practicality

5 out of 5

Difficult to beat the Jazz on practicality

If you’re a Honda person then you’ll know that practicality is always a given in its regular line-up and the Jazz is no exception. Everything is well laid out, the materials feel good and able to withstand everything kids can throw at them and there are some unique Honda features. These include the Magic Seats which can be folded upwards if you want to put in a bike or that tall plant you bought in the garden centre. You can also fold the front passenger seat flat, not so much for allowing a rear passenger to put their legs up business class style, but more for accommodating longer loads such as the Saturday morning DIY project. 

This flexibility is useful because the boot space is more about everyday use. At 298 litres it will take the shopping, sports club stuff and so on, plus there’s an easily cleaned plastic tray and a hidden compartment beneath it. Fold one or both of the split-folder rear seats and you have something the size of a small van. I once got everything I owned in a Jazz and moved house, although granted that didn’t include any furniture.

Interior

4 out of 5

Spacious, practical and well designed

The interior is very nicely designed with a good driving position and fantastic visibility thanks to the very thin pillars either side of the windscreen. It has pretty much everything you need including lots of storage space, although here’s no central armrest with cupholders for kids sat in the back. There is great leg and head room if you are in the back seats though, even for taller adults and of course you have those great Magic Seats for versatility. 

Materials are all reasonably good, although there are some hard plastics that are disguised as something a bit more premium than they really are. The cloth seats are comfortable and should wear well and that infotainment system is reasonably easy to use, especially if you make use of its Apple CarPlay connectivity.

Equipment and options

4.5 out of 5

Loads of equipment and most of it useful

It is a very well-equipped car. EX Style gets side mouldings, rear spoiler and door mirrors all in black, as well as a contrast colour roof and 16-inch wheels. It has a decent touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, easy to use controls on the steering wheel, which by the way is heated and there are numerous storage places. The Magic Seats are a winner and it has all the basics like keyless start, remote central locking, electric windows and the list goes on. It even as an app which you can use to check on your car, lock or unlock it and summon roadside assistance. 

Options include packs that give you different colour trim bits, such as the Orange one, or Finesse which adds a slightly premium look. You can add more interior lighting, boot accessories, a roof rack or simply opt for different wheels. It’s not Bentley levels of options, but there’s a few things you can do. 

Engine and power

3 out of 5

Just one powertrain and it’s a fuel conscious hybrid

Then there’s the engine, Honda’s 1.5-litre hybrid. Generally we suspect Jazz buyers aren’t that interested in the numbers, but for reference, the maximum power is 98hp and torque is 131Nm. What that means is reasonable pep around town, an ability to cruise at motorway speeds without much effort and a bit of silent electric running. Generally the car will decide when it can run in electric mode, which is mainly going to be around town where it will always start with the electric motor. There’s also an Econ button if you want to use less fuel.

It's no spring chicken this one, taking 9.5 seconds to reach 62 mph but no Jazz owner is going to be fussed. They might have more of an issue though with the CVT auto gearbox, which is quite a noisy thing if you push down hard on the accelerator. 

The drive

3.5 out of 5

Great daily runner that has a hint of fun about it

The CVT gearbox makes its voice known if you choose to drive it a little bit more enthusiastically, but otherwise it’s a very happy and pleasant thing on a daily drive. It’s also a good runner on the motorway where you can switch on the active cruise control and happily sail along with very little external noise coming into the car. The suspension deals with most bumps in the road and there’s good grip from the 16-inch wheels and tyres. While dynamics are not likely to be a key factor, it can be surprisingly fun to drive, although it does occasionally feel a little bit bouncy.

Safety

5 out of 5

As safe as it gets

Euro NCAP gave the new Jazz a full five stars and this EX spec really does have everything, from fundamentals like multiple airbags and Isofix to a really good radar cruise control. Its lane departure system is not so good though, regularly picking out lane markings which aren’t there and often being a bit over-sensitive, but as with many of these systems, you can switch it off. The Jazz even has a very useful rear cross traffic monitor, so if you are reversing out of your driveway or a space in the supermarket car park, it will alert you that another car or a pedestrian is about to come past you. Safety gets a definite tick.

Reliability

4.5 out of 5

It’s a Honda, need we say more?

Honda prides itself on reliability and this is borne out in most of the reliability surveys around the world, with the Jazz often topping the small car lists, although it’s slipped behind some key rivals in recent years. The Jazz gets a three-year warranty for piece of mind and there’s the option of a five-year maintenance package.

Cost

3 out of 5

Pricey but good

The Jazz starts at £20,330 but this EX Style costs £25,940. It’s quite a bit more pricey than some of its rivals, for that money you can be in a high-spec Fiesta, but you really do get a lot of kit for that money. You also get good fuel consumption; after over 250 miles we were sitting just north of 49mpg. Plus you’re unlikely to need to spend much on maintenance, so while there are cheaper alternatives, the Jazz has a lot in its favour.

Why buy

4 out of 5

It’s the Jazz, jazzed up

First and foremost you buy it because it’s a Honda, which means practicality, reliability and safety. Now though, you can add style and tech into the mix, certainly more so than you could with previous generations. It’s a good looking car, very well equipped and good to drive on an everyday basis. It is more expensive than some rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo, but its interior space and versatility are real stand-out areas for the Jazz and help to make it a superb all-round choice in the small car segment.