It’s fair to say that the Honda Jazz in its previous form has had its fair share of negative publicity over the years. The age old jokes about Hondas, the Jazz itself and even its drivers are easy to come by, but in its new guise, Honda have embarked on a mission to upgrade and modernise the ageing small runabout – and perhaps liven its target audience up a bit too.
First impressions suggest that Honda have done well to give the Jazz a kind and relatively effortless upgrade in the looks department. In line with a slightly bolder design, the Jazz outsmarts competitors in this area by being more modern, striking, brave and dare I say it classy. Unlike the old Jazz, which felt staid, cumbersome and almost ancient when it first arrived, the new Jazz feels like it’s looking to the future, with bold bright colours, a good amount of higher spec options that wouldn’t look out of place on a more expensive car and a solid, sturdy general feel all round.Inside, it’s the same game. The interior has had an injection of youth, with splashes of colour, a well laid out, minimal centre console and a huge sense of space
Indeed the interior of the Jazz, with its high roof and big, raked windscreen is an appealing place to be. For a small car it isn’t short on space at all and the light and airiness of the cabin complements the bright colours and glow of the gauges and screen. I really liked it, and the stripped back approach combined with both leg and headroom in the front and back is impressive.
So what’s it like to drive? Well, the very simple answer is slow. However, that’s obviously not what this car it about, and the good news is that the only engine that the new Jazz comes with is a typically good VTEC unit that produces about 101bhp at 6,000rpm without the turbo that many of the car’s competitors come with. The leisurely performance of the car however means you’re unlikely to have to worry about economy – this is an affordable car to run and I averaged nearly 55mpg on a motorway run, thanks to the excellent gearbox and well placed 6th gear that adds a degree of refinement to the engine. The automatic gearbox that’s available promises an average of 60mpg or more, but is more expensive and adds quite a bit of weight. It would be nice to see a hybrid version of the car, as in the last incarnation, but we may be waiting a while for this.
The new Jazz is without doubt one of the best cars in its sector for practicality and the ingenious solutions Honda have come up with in terms of storage space and cubby holes. There’s drink holders aplenty – I particularly liked the ones at steering wheel level by the windows. The door bins will hold a large bottle of water, which is pretty useful, too. Boot space is excellent – all the extra space has been created without it being made too big and it still is a very compact and easy to negotiate little car.
If you want the optional Sat Nav, it’ll cost you a little more than £600, but it makes the kit on the car pretty appealing and sets it apart from the budget supermini crowd. It feels grown up, and the price tag is quite grown up, too. In fact, it is perhaps a little expensive with everything bolted on, starting at nearly £18,000, but I would argue there’s a lot more car for your money here than in some other cases.
The new Honda Jazz feels more confident and alive than in previous years. In a way, it feels like it has just got its legs and found its feet – being able to grow up and attract younger buyers in a way that doesn’t feel contrived or too try-hard. I see no reason why younger buyers wouldn’t be attracted to the style and design of the new Jazz, and despite its slightly expensive outright price tag, the economy and excellent running costs of the car make up for it in my opinion.
The practicality of the car is its most outstanding thing. That, combined with its new ‘jazzier’ (couldn’t resist) styling and younger appeal make it a very appealing prospect in this sector. Yes, it is slightly pricy, and it will take a little while to shed the image, but this is a huge step in the right direction.