Honda Jazz hatchback
"The quirky Honda Jazz is even smoother and cheaper to run with a hybrid powertrain"
- Low running costs
- Smooth and easy drive
- Improved infotainment
- Unsettled ride on bigger wheels
- Only average boot space
- Hybrid tech increases price
The Honda Jazz has long been a practical, sensible supermini for drivers who want to shrink their bills without feeling like they're driving a shoebox. The latest model is all-new and comes solely with a clever hybrid powertrain that should do even more for low running costs and reliability.
Its MPV-like shape remains, and looks more palatable than ever among small crossovers and SUVs, but the Jazz is also a bit more characterful than before. New LED exterior lights and bumpers give the Honda a smiling face and the range-topping Crosstar EX trim adds an SUV aesthetic sure to broaden its appeal to a more youthful audience who may otherwise consider a Ford Fiesta Active or Citroen C3.
The interior of the Jazz isn’t groundbreaking but it's pleasant enough, and a few quirky features sneak in, like a two-spoke steering wheel and digital instruments. The nine-inch infotainment screen is a revelation too, as it’s far better than Honda's older systems, with improved graphics and the latest smartphone connectivity. For this reason, the mid-level SR trim is our pick - the entry-level SE only gets a basic radio and isn't as compelling as a result. EX adds luxuries like heated seats and a rear-view camera, but its price tag starts looking rather high for a supermini, hybrid or not.
So what of the hybrid powertrain known as ‘e:HEV’? It uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine and two electric motors connected to a battery pack and does away with a conventional gearbox altogether. In practice it feels like driving an electric car at low to medium speeds, with a petrol engine that helps out if you want maximum performance and when cruising on the motorway. It's mostly smooth and refined, but the big news is its efficiency, with up to 62.8mpg and just over 100g/km of CO2 emissions. And, unlike some claimed figures, the fuel-efficiency number appears fairly easy to hit and even surpass in the real-world, giving drivers the economy of a thrifty diesel. Just don't expect a thrilling ride, because the linear acceleration, light steering and safe but sensible chassis don't invite you to drive in anything other than a sensible manner. A Ford Fiesta EcoBoost feels like a hot hatch in comparison.
Drive in the manner the Jazz prefers and any potted plants slotted in the middle row (with the Magic Seats flipped up) will be unharmed and your passenger will be happy. Drop the seats again and four tall adults can travel in comfort, with plenty of leg and headroom and handy places to charge and stow mobile devices.
The Honda Jazz still appeals to a very different buyer than the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio or Peugeot 208, but for anyone unsure what to buy next, and willing to dip their toe into hybrid or EV ownership, the Jazz is a great choice. After all, it offers many of the benefits of an EV without a large upfront cost or any need to learn new habits, like charging. The Crosstar EX could also be a hit thanks to its desirable SUV-style looks.