The HondaJazz is one of the Japanese marque’s consistent successes, with millions of the compact hatchbacks being sold the world over, making pensioners, students, and everyone in between a little happier in their daily lives. It’s a very middle-of-the-road offering, the little Jazz, and yet somehow it always finds a way to carve itself neatly into your life. Unobtrusive and dependable, that’s what it is.
Despite having been around since 2014, the Jazz is still as desirable as ever. With competition like the Mazda 2, Toyota Yaris, and Suzuki Swift consistently updating to keep them on their A-game, the Jazz remains largely the same as when it was first brought to market. They must’ve really gotten it right then, because the compact Honda continues to sell strongly almost three years on. But is the new Jazz befitting of a name that won hearts and minds over the two previous generations? Or is this new Jazz lacking a little soul?
"The Mk3 has been designed to tempt younger buyers into the Honda fold and has edgier styling, with more defined styling creases." - AutoExpress
The third generation Jazz now has a more athletic look to it, with lines and creases in places you certainly wouldn’t have expected them on the previous generation. Rather than being edgy and daring, it aspires to be edgy and daring; In doing so, its design is palatable and serviceable without dividing opinion too much. It’s like the mildest, meekest curry you can find: It doesn’t have any sort of a kick, but it’s still curry.
The base VTi gets plastic wheel covers and little else, so our recommendation is to only consider the mid-spec VTi-S and top-drawer VTi-L. The VTi-S gains things like climate control, a leather steering wheel and gear lever, was well as exterior embellishments like side skirts, fog lights, and 16-inch alloy wheels. The premium VTi-L adds on to these, with heated leather seats, keyless entry and go, rear parking sensors, and a spoiler for the rear.
Engine & Drivetrain
"There is only one engine in the Honda Jazz…" - Which Car?
No range of engines to choose from, here. Prospective Jazz owners won’t have to fret about the right engine and gearbox combo, as there’s only one 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol on offer, combined with a continuously variable (CVT) automatic, and a five-speed manual. Important to note is that the manual is only available for entry-level VTi models.
Fuel consumption is rated at a decent 5.8-litres/100km for the CVT automatic, while the manual cars consume a small amount more.
"As far as city cars are concerned, the Jazz has set the pace for maximising a lot from a little when it comes to the functionality and flexibility of its cabin. And the bigger body of the latest model manages to extract even more, offering as much room as some rivals in the next segment up." - Drive
This is the most practical Jazz yet. Firstly, the boot space on offer is comparable to cars from a class above, at 350l of space. Then, with some clever fiddling of the proprietary ‘Magic Seats,’ the space can expand to as much as 1,492l. Those Magic Seats we mentioned can be configured in no less than 18 different ways, and when you match those to a cleverly-packaged little car, it can redefine the capabilities of a compact hatch.
The design of the interior is pretty snazzy, too. It’s all well presented and well screwed together, with clear instruments and modern design touches. All Jazz variants get a 7-inch touchscreen as standard, and while it doesn’t offer GPS navigation, smartphone mirroring is standard across the range. The seats are great and supremely comfortable, with mid- and top-spec cars benefitting from air conditioning vents for the second row. Oh, and there are cubbies everywhere, to store your everyday clutter.
Behind the Wheel
"It’s just usefully nimble, not that many owners will ever notice…" - TopGear
The Jazz isn’t a hot hatch. It’s not even a warm hatch. It’s geared toward being the most user-friendly compact hatch you’ll find out there, and that’s what it is. The steering is light, and it makes threading through traffic a dawdle. Visibility is great too, making this an excellent city car. The CVT gearbox is slightly slow to respond (compared to a conventional automatic, at least), but it’s something that one can adjust to fairly quickly.
On the open road, the Jazz begins to falter. At motorway speeds, the steering is light and doesn’t inspire confidence. The bluff sides of the car also make it very susceptible to crosswinds, and makes passing lorries a particularly nervous affair. But again, the CVT is of note here, keeping the engine speed exactly where it needs to be, never subjecting the cabin to more noise intrusion than is strictly necessary. Stomping on the pedal will reveal the uncouth nature of the engine when it’s thrashed. So don’t do that.
"In terms of safety, the Jazz aced the Euro NCAP crash tests, coming home with a full five-star rating in 2015." - AutoExpress
The Honda Jazz, when first introduced, netted a full 5-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). All Jazz hatchbacks get six-airbags as standard, as well as electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, hill-start assist, and LED projector headlights.
Visibility deserves a special mention here, with things like the angle of the windows, the tapering window lines, and the placement of the door mirrors all contributing to truly remarkable all-round views.
Better looking, better packaged, and better put together, the new Jazz is a marked improvement over the last car in almost every way. The interior packaging is nothing short of incredible, no matter how you look at it. And that level of practicality forgives the relatively bland exterior, though that’s just a relative comparison (the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta are great examples).
It’ll be as tough as nails, and is likely to last as long as a car would reasonably be expected to. Our recommendation lies with the mid-spec VTi-S, for its respectable level of creature comforts that will be sure to keep drivers and passengers happy. It’s a great car for the young and old, for small families and empty nesters alike, and we suspect that’s exactly what Honda was aiming for at the outset.
TopGear - 70/100 - “Not sexy, not fun, not a heartstring-tugger, but by gum is this a clever car. Brilliantly fit for purpose.”
CarAdvice - 75/100 - “Overall, the new Honda Jazz is a very competent package that offers best in class interior versatility and practicality. The drivetrain and on-road dynamics are also commendable for its purpose, though Honda’s reliance on connectivity features to help push Jazz ahead of the pack is hindered by its cumbersome infotainment system.”
WhichCar - 80/100 - “The drawcard for the Honda Jazz city car has always been its ability to swallow luggage, courtesy of its box-shaped body and clever flip-folding seats. It also has an impressive infotainment interface, standard on even the keenly priced Jazz VTi, and a frugal engine with plenty of power.”
Drive - 60/100 - “The Jazz is one of the smartest city cars when it comes to utilising its interior space and can be genuinely used as a small family runabout. It might not be the sharpest to drive, or the most efficient, but Honda’s revised pricing and added equipment certainly makes it even more attractive.”
WhatCar? - 60/100 - “The Jazz boasts lots of equipment, and is roomy and practical, but it feels dated to drive and is expensive compared with the best small cars.”
AutoExpress - 80/100 - “The Honda Jazz has grown over the years, and the latest version is more practical and well equipped than ever.”
AutoCar - 70/100 - “The decision to buy a Honda Jazz comes down to simple choices, really. If you want a car to entertain you on a B-road blast, buy a [Ford] Fiesta. If you want the most grown-up cabin in this class, buy a [Volkswagen] Polo. And, if you want the best value allied to a thoroughly charming little car, buy a [Skoda] Fabia. However, if you want a Tardis, buy a Honda Jazz. It really is so ridiculously practical that if your situation dictates the need for small on the outside and big on the inside, there’s little else to touch it.”