Honda Jazz 1.3

i-VTEC EX Navi

Honda Jazz, side
Honda Jazz, rear
Honda Jazz, front
Honda Jazz, interior
Honda Jazz, interior
Honda Jazz, boot
Honda Jazz, boot
Honda Jazz, interior
Honda Jazz, interior
Honda Jazz, boot
Honda Jazz, side

WITH sales of more than five million worldwide, the Honda Jazz has been striking a chord with small car buyers for 15 years.

Tardis-like interior space relative to its supermini stature and an enviable reliability record have proved a winning combination and the third generation model, launched last year, aims to extend that appeal.

Somewhat reserved styling previously has meant that most owners were older drivers - but with a sharper design and the latest technology and infotainment systems Honda hopes the Jazz can tune into a younger fan base.

Although it retains the familiar Jazz profile a new-look nose, narrower headlights, muscular bumpers and sculpted character lines along the flanks all create a more modern and dynamic look.

It's still a world away from boy-racer territory, though, and the Jazz remains more sensible than sporty. But that's not a bad thing, because for young families after compact and economical yet spacious transport it has plenty to offer.

At 95mm longer than it's predecessor there's even more room inside what remains a surprisingly diminutive frame, creating extra rear legroom. And with plenty of headroom too, four adults can travel very comfortably.

The expansive and steeply-raked windscreen helps to keep everything light and airy in the cabin while the more upright, MPV-style tailgate means that boot space, at 354 litres, is at the top of the class - and extends to 1,314 litres with the 60-40 rear seats folded flat in the conventional manner.

But the real beauty of the Jazz, as with other Hondas, is the more unconventional things you can do with the seating - which the Japanese car maker calls its Magic Seat system.

This provides the sort of versatility which many MPVs would be proud of, with an array of configurations for carrying cargo and passengers.

The most innovative aspect is the way the rear seat bases can be flipped up, cinema-style, and locked into position, leaving a large space behind the front seats capable of accommodating items much too tall for the boot.

The front seatbacks can also be folded back to a flat position - allowing longer loads to be carried on the passenger side or, in what Honda calls ‘refresh mode' both front passengers to lie back and relax, during breaks on long journeys for instance.

Add in some upgraded interior finishes, with plenty of soft-touch surfaces, and handy personal storage solutions, including a neat extra cup holder next to the steering wheel, and you have got a hugely practical space capable of meeting all your family needs.

The only engine available is a 1.3-litre petrol which was mated with a six-speed manual transmission in this car, although there's also a constantly variable automatic available.

While economical enough, with a claimed 55 miles per gallon on average, it can't match the diesel options of some rivals.

It also lacks a little punch at the low end and you generally need to pile on the revs to make rapid progress while hills will have you reaching for the gear lever to shift down for some extra oomph. It does handle town traffic with aplomb, though, and cruising at motorway speeds is relaxed and surprisingly refined.

A more rigid and lighter chassis, re-engineered suspension and light but accurate steering combine to provide good handling, stability and manoeuvrability, making the Jazz an easy rather than overly engaging car to drive.

Equipment levels are generous with entry-level models getting digital radio, aircon, Bluetooth, start-stop system, cruise control and automatic lights and wipers.

The EX Navi version I drove is the range-topper and gets all the bells and whistles including parking sensors, reversing camera, touchscreen infotainment system, sat nav, push-button start, reversing camera and a city braking system designed to help avoid or mitigate low-speed shunts.

FAST FACTS

Honda Jazz 1.3 i-VTEC EX Navi

Price: £16,605

Mechanical: 102ps, 1,318cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph:11.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 55.4

Insurance Group: 13

C02 emissions:120g/km

Bik rating:21%

Warranty: 3yrs/90,000 miles

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