A long-standing favourite of pragmatic drivers looking for a practical and reliable small car, the Honda Jazz continues the traditions of its predecessors in fine style. It’s not the last word in dynamic flair, cabin quality or ergonomics, but if those aren’t your priorities, you could do much worse than the Jazz.
Hondas are never the cheapest cars in their class but many consider that a premium worth paying for the peace of mind that comes from the stellar reputation for reliability. In terms of running costs your options are simplified by there being just one petrol engine and the option of a regular manual or Honda’s preferred ‘continuously variable transmission’ style automatic. On paper the latter is marginally better on fuel and CO2 but costs a chunk more to buy and is a lot less pleasant to live with so, unless you need an automatic, we’d stick with the manual. Looking ahead a new Jazz is coming in the not too distant future, the all-hybrid line-up promising improved running costs with further electrification to come.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Honda Jazz
If reliability is your priority the Jazz should be top of your supermini shopping list. The generation previous to this car has been on – or near – the top of a number of reliability surveys for a number of years, the Warranty Direct Reliability Index being just one example. What’s more, Honda sits on top of the same study’s manufacturer rankings.
Expert rating: 5/5
Safety for a Honda Jazz
Honda places a big emphasis on safety and driver assistance systems so it’s a shame that the most basic trim level does without the forward collision warning, lane departure alerts, intelligent speed limiter and road sign recognition you get as standard on the rest of the range. Pays your money and takes your choice on that but, either way, the Jazz is a safe little car with the automatic ‘city brake’ function, plenty of airbags, anti-whiplash front headrests, hill-start assist and Isofix childseat mounts.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the Honda Jazz
Driving the Jazz is a mixed bag, the high seating position and excellent visibility giving you plenty of confidence around town. It’s a pity the steering feels a bit heavy for low-speed manoeuvring though, this likely to be an issue for the older drivers the Jazz has traditionally appealed to. It’s also a bit twitchy as speeds increase, this combined with noticeable body lean meaning the handling can’t match the best in class. You’d hope the trade-off for that would be greater ride comfort but, sadly, the Jazz doesn’t deliver here either.
The Jazz’s trump card remains, however, its incredible practicality and roominess. The boxy shape may not look sexy but it means the boot is huge and usefully shaped while the rear bench can realistically seat three in relative comfort. For tip runs or trips to the garden centre Honda’s clever Magic Seat system offers huge flexibility too – lift the bases up for a tall space in the rear cabin or fold them flat for van-like carrying capacity as required. It’s a pity this usefulness isn’t matched by funkier design and nicer materials but you can’t have everything, it seems.
Expert rating: 3/5
Features of the Honda Jazz
As discussed in the safety section the basic trim level does without some of the driver aids but you still get DAB, automatic lights and wipers, Bluetooth, cruise control and air conditioning. The next level up gets Honda’s touchscreen infotainment system but you have to pay extra for navigation functionality and there’s no option to use your phone’s apps via CarPlay or Android Auto. This leaves you fighting the fiddly interface and confusing menus and may not be worth the extra cash. If you want to jazz up your Jazz further there are various options and accessories packs, whether that be for some chrome exterior trim or – more usefully – boot liners and dividers to protect the interior against muddy boots or paws.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Honda Jazz
There’s just one engine option for the Jazz and the best you can say about it is that it gets the job done. Honda’s tradition of making high-revving engines is admirable in its more sporting products but, here in the Jazz, it’s a little more frustrating and the 1.3-litre petrol feels less flexible and punchy than the smaller turbocharged engines used by many rivals. Unless you need a two-pedal car the automatic is best avoided too, given it feels even slower and less refined.