Honda Jazz

By Tim Saunders 

Think of jazz and the famous musicians Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Count Basie, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington spring to mind.

My parents are fans and so were my grandparents and perhaps this is why Honda chose the name for its popular hatchback, which has been around for the past 11 years. Each one that I see on the roads seems to be driven by a more mature motorist. And so it was with some fear of prematurely ageing that I stepped inside the latest 1.2 litre Jazz complete with facelift for 2012.  Would it make me feel like I needed my own facelift by the end of our relationship?

Its strengths are immediately obvious – the interior with large dials and switches are user-friendly especially for the elderly. The compact size makes it a good city car. Its rear seats easily fold flat while the front ones can fully recline giving a massive total length of 2,400mm inside the car. The 399 litre boot beats all its rivals hands down including the Ford Focus. The Jazz’s double boot with under-floor storage combines with the regular boot space to accommodate more awkward items.

However, the Jazz’s performance is sloth-like. Although the five-speed manual box is decisive, progress through the gears is pretty painful, particularly if you’re trying to conserve fuel. A better option is the punchier 1.4-litre variant.

Passengers who like their drinks will be pleased to see an array of cup holders and there’s plenty of storage space too, thanks to door pockets and a double glove box. Rear passengers get privacy glass as well.

The fuel gauge drops too quickly for my liking but this isn’t surprising when you learn there’s only a 42-litre tank compared to the standard 60 or so. However, carrying less petrol means reduced weight and therefore greater efficiency. That fuel gauge could be more helpful though, because when the refuel light comes on at 33 miles range exactly and the driver then refills with say, six-and-a-half litres (well over one gallon), it refuses to rise back up. To make matters even worse the digital reading also insists that it needs more fuel, which is not true and very unnerving. Logic suggests that it should easily travel 50 miles as that is what it averages per gallon and my test proves that it does. Refilling with at least eight litres results in the gauge moving, I am advised.  

A light shell and aerodynamic design sees the Jazz cut through wind with minimum resistance. It reminds me of the times I’ve taken the controls of a light aircraft and the subsequent buffeting that ensues when the wind strikes.

Parkers, the car experts, write: “The Jazz offers versatility, space and equipment. It is also more economical, comfortable and quicker than before but is just as easy to drive in town with a tight turning circle and great all round visibility.” It adds that the Honda is “one of the most family-friendly small cars around”.

Few complaints will be found by those who stick to urban driving keeping it regularly topped up. After all Honda has sold over 3.5 million of them.

Honda Jazz 1.2i VTEC S (AC) 5-door

New price range: 

£11,295 - £19,305

0-60mph: 12.1secs

Top speed: 110mph

Power: 88bhp

Economy: 53 mpg


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