Honda Jazz hatchback
Price: £11,695 - £20,245
- Very practical
- Superbly reliable
- Efficient hybrid model
- No diesel engine
- Expensive to buy
- Noisy engines and uncomfortable ride
"The Honda Jazz offers unbeatable practicality in the supermini class, and is as reliable as they come."
The Honda Jazz is a supermini like the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai i20, but is very different to most rivals. That's because when designing the Jazz, Honda kept its focus on maximising its practicality. The result is a car that offers class-leading space thanks to an extremely innovative use of space. The interior is spacious, smartly laid out, and endlessly flexible – in fact it challenges some small MPVs for practicality and versatility, despite its tiny supermini dimensions.
The Jazz also benefits from decent equipment levels and a reputation for reliability that's tough to beat. This successful formula has led to Honda selling more than a quarter of a million Jazz models since it went on sale in 2002.
It comes with a choice of two petrol engines – a 1.2-litre or a 1.4-litre – plus a hybrid version. The standard cars come in a choice of five specification levels: S, SE, ES Plus, Si and EX. While hybrid models come in either HE, HS or top-spec HX. The downside to the Jazz is the fact that there is no diesel engine, plus it is quite expensive. A new model of the Jazz is due to launch in the spring of 2014.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Jazz’s running costs are some way behind rivals
Sadly, the Jazz is not a particularly efficient car. Diesel engines are usually the star performers when it comes to economy in the supermini sector, but Honda does not offer one with the Jazz. The two petrol engines perform reasonably well managing 50 to 54mpg and emitting less than 130g/km CO2 – but while these stats aren’t bad for petrol engines, they still fall well short of rivals fitted with more efficient diesel engines. Surprisingly, the Honda Jazz hybrid will only return 63mpg and it emits more than 100g/km CO2, which means there isn’t a version of the Jazz exempt from road tax. Those figures are particularly disappointing given that the Hyundai i20 manages 88mpg with just a diesel engine.
Interior & comfort
The ride is a little uncomfortable but there’s plenty of space
The Jazz has been criticised for its hard ride since it first launched. This model is a little better in this respect than the previous generation car, but bumpy roads and potholes will still send a noticeable jolt through the cabin. Still, on smooth roads and motorways the Jazz is comfortable enough, and you get excellent visibility from behind the wheel because it's a tall car with a higher driving position than most superminis. There's plenty of space, so passengers won’t feel cramped – in fact, the rear sears even recline for extra comfort. The controls are well laid out and easy to use, and it feels well put together, too.
Practicality & boot space
Practicality is Jazz’s major strength thanks to plenty of space and a flexible seating layout
The Honda Jazz has an incredible amount of space for a supermini-sized car – only the Nissan Note and Toyota Verso come close to matching it. – giving bigger cars a decent run for their money when it comes to practicality.
The boot offers 379 litres of space, which is substantially bigger than the load areas found in some family hatchbacks like the Ford Focus. And there's a clever boot divider with a net for storing loose items. Fold the seats down – which can be done quickly and easily at the press of a button – and the space expands to 883 litres. The seat bases can also be flipped up like cinema seats, to help fit tall items in the back.
There are plenty of useful storage cubbyholes as well. And because it's a tall car it has high roofline, which provides plenty of headroom for all passengers.
Reliability & safety
The Jazz is one of the most reliable cars in the supermini class
Both Honda as a brand and the Jazz as a car have a superb reputation for reliability. In the 2013 Driver Power satisfaction survey, Honda came sixth out of 32 in the manufacturer rankings. While the Jazz finished at 23rd in the top 100 cars list – coming third overall for reliability, so customers are clearly thrilled by its dependability.
It also comes with a three year/90,000-mile warranty, so if anything does go wrong in the early part of ownership, you’ll be covered. The Jazz was also awarded the maximum five-star safety rating the Euro NCAP crash tests. It has an array of airbags and ISOFIX points for fitting child seats, but electronic stability control doesn’t come as standard.
Engines, drive & performance
Hybrid version is the star, but it’s a shame there is no diesel option
There are two petrol engines and a hybrid version to choose from and amazingly, the hybrid Jazz is the best to drive. It offers faster acceleration than either of the petrol engines, though unfortunately, it's fitted with a CVT automatic gearbox, which is a little on the noisy side.
Both the 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrol engines feel underpowered. As a result, they have to be driven hard to get them moving, which makes them a bit noisy and tiresome – and the problem only gets worse if the Jazz is loaded down with passengers or luggage.
Still, the Jazz's tall stance and high driving position gives a fantastic view of the road, and all-round visibility is good. The steering is responsive and the handling is sharp, too. It's not a sporty car, but it performs well.
Price, value for money & options
The Jazz is expensive but it holds on to its value well
The Jazz may offer excellent practicality, but it's not cheap and there are plenty of rivals that offer better value for money. Entry-level S cars aren’t particularly well equipped, while SE models get stop-start and automatic climate control. ES Plus spec models get 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and a leather steering wheel. Si models benefit from uprated sports suspension and front fog lights, while top spec EX cars get a panoramic glass roof and cruise control. Hybrid models are better equipped, with HX models also getting heated front seats and Bluetooth connectivity.
All in, the Jazz holds on to its value very well, so your wallet won’t be hit so hard by depreciation as it would with many rival models.
What the others say
"If you put space and versatility ahead of styling and driving pleasure, the Honda Jazz is in a different league to its supermini rivals. From the outside, its neat lines and boxy profile owe more to a small MPV than a compact hatchback, but the rewards are obvious on the inside."
"There are two petrol engines on offer (but no diesel) which are peppy around town plus offer decent performance on the motorway - plus the Jazz is comfortable and easy to drive. But the Honda's biggest strength is it's interior which is hugely practical and impressively spacious, making it one of the most family-friendly small cars around."
"The Jazz's engines are smooth, but if you’re after the quiet life, the car is best avoided. Far too much wind noise and road noise make their way into the cabin, and this gets worse the faster you go. CVT versions (including the hybrid) make an almighty racket when you accelerate quickly."
Last updated: 21 Jan 2014