Honda Jazz hatchback (2008 – ) expert review
Read the Honda Jazz hatchback (2008 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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The Jazz is all about practicality and function, and that’s evident in the way the car looks. Behind the steeply raked nose, the lines are very square and very boxy. This maximises interior space, but doesn’t do much for the car’s aesthetics. It’s all rather bland compared with more conventional superminis, but to be fair, it doesn’t look any duller than the mini MPVs with which it also competes. Plus, the Hybrid models look a little more interesting, with various chrome trims and clear-lensed rear light clusters.
The simple-to-use big buttons and knobs are certainly a case of function over form, but since that’s the whole point of the Jazz, it suits the car well. The dials are clear and easy to read, and there’s a large trip computer in the centre of the speedo. You’ll like the unhampered rear visibility, and although the driving position is rather high, it’s pretty comfortable. The robustness of the interior could never be in doubt, either, but the hard plastics mean it doesn’t feel as posh as you’d like it to.
The Jazz’s 379-litre boot is a genuinely useful size. Bear in mind, though, that the Hybrid model’s boot is smaller at 303 litres. All versions give an impressive 1320 litres of cargo space when you fold the back seats down, and the way the seats work is an absolute masterpiece. They fold completely flat, leaving no step or angle to the floor, and you can also tilt the bases upwards, allowing you to carry particularly tall items in the rear passenger footwell. With the seats in place, rear legroom is adequate for tall adults, and headroom is exceptional.
Ride and handling
The Jazz is best suited to town use, where the light steering makes it easy to manoeuvre, and the ride is compliant enough to keep things reasonably comfortable. Tackle a more challenging road at higher speeds, though, and it’s not so impressive. There’s a fair amount of bounce in the suspension over undulating surfaces, and because the steering feels vague and slow to respond, you’re not given much confidence in bends. Motorways aren’t pleasant places to be in the Jazz, either, because way too much wind and road noise make their way into the cabin at 70mph.
There are two conventional petrol engines on offer in the Jazz, an 89bhp 1.2 and a 98bhp 1.3 (which is badged as a 1.4 for some reason). We haven’t tried the 1.2 yet, but the 1.3 feels lively around town, and it just about copes on the motorway. It’s also available with the option of a CVT automatic gearbox, but we haven’t yet tried that version. The Hybrid gets a CVT as standard, along with an electric motor to supplement the 1.3 petrol engine. The drivetrain is pretty smooth, but like with the other engines, performance is acceptable rather than exceptional.
The Jazz is priced as a premium supermini, costing more than many rivals. That said, its desirability on the used market keeps resale values high, so you should get much of your outlay back come sell-on time. All versions better 50mpg according to Government figures, while the Hybrid is the star performer with a figure of 62.8mpg. That said, it’s a little disappointing that a small hybrid like this doesn’t better the all-important 100g/km mark for CO2 emsissions; it delivers 104g/km.
Honda’s reputation for building solid cars is legendary, and that’s backed up by Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index. The Jazz sits at the top of the standings for the most reliable cars, and Honda is among the front-runners in the manufacturer standings. That should give you plenty of confidence that your car won’t go wrong.
The Jazz comes with all the safety kit you expect, including six airbags and electronic stability control. You also get active anti-whiplash head restraints, which help minimise neck injuries in a rear-end shunt. The car hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP since 2009, and the tests have become more stringent since then. It did, however, earn the full five-star rating.
Choose a conventionally powered Jazz, and you have the choice of six trim levels. The range kicks off with S, which has electric front windows and remote locking, while S A/C adds air-con and SE adds climate control and body-coloured door handles and mirrors. ES+ trim adds alloys, cruise control, privacy glass, powered rear windows and steering wheel audio controls, while the Si has a body kit and a sports suspension. The range-topping EX has a panoramic roof, automatic lights and wipers and Bluetooth, but you can add an optional Technology pack to all the trims to add Bluetooth and sat-nav. The Hybrid models, meanwhile, have their own trim structure. HE models have similar kit to the S A/C, HS trim is similar to EX, while HX trim gets even more luxury kit.
If you need as much practicality and versatility as a small car can give, there’s little to touch the Jazz. It’s sound in most other areas, but refinement is a weak spot and it’s not all that great to drive.