By Mike Torpey on 2021-05-23 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Honda Jazz 1.5
Crosstar EX CVT
HONDA may not have been aware of it at the time its trendy Jazz supermini was launched in 2001, but the car's name means far more than just a popular music genre.
The word jazz is believed to be derived from the slang term 'jasm' which dates back to the 19 century and references energy, drive and a zest for accomplishment.
These same three qualities have contributed to the Jazz scooping multiple awards over the past couple of decades - and the model line's avalanche of success shows no sign of slowing down.
The latest fourth generation Jazz, which includes a beefed up Crosstar variant at the top of the range, not only has a fresh design and powertrain but is also the first of six electrified Honda models due to be introduced in Europe by 2022.
Engineered to deliver a blend of strong performance with impressive efficiency, it is available exclusively with what Honda calls e:HEV two-motor technology. In other words it's a hybrid.
In this case it means a 1.5-litre petrol engine working with a pair of electric motors and lithium-ion battery in a self-charging set-up, so you don't need to mess around with cables.
The resulting efficiency is remarkable, a rare treat in fact to potter around for a week and barely see the fuel gauge needle (or little white squares) move.
Officially the automatic Jazz can return an average 58.9 miles per gallon - pretty impressive in anybody's book and even better with manual gearbox - but you can actually outperform that figure, particularly in and around the suburbs.
That's because the hybrid system will switch between petrol and electric power, using the electric motor as much as possible round town.
But economy apart, the Jazz is just a lovely car to drive. It's smooth, balanced, has nicely weighted steering and adequate punch of 0-62mph in a fraction under 10 seconds.
Buyers favouring the five-door Crosstar EX variant get a car that's slightly wider, taller with a 30mm raised ride height and longer than the standard Jazz, moving it almost into mini-SUV territory.
The large glasshouse flooding the cabin with light is no optical illusion either - there's plenty of passenger room front and back, made all the more accommodating thanks to Honda's ‘magic seats' which allow you to fold the rear seats completely flat or lift up the squabs cinema-style for more load space.
Four adults can travel in space and comfort, though a centre rear occupant has to make do with a narrow raised perch, and there's also the benefit of water repellent fabric upholstery.
Some may find the dash area a bit fussy but there's no doubting its effectiveness - intuitive and packed with useful tech including the ability to monitor your driving efficiency.
The Crosstar EX demands a premium as a flagship model, the likes of pearl paint (£650) and a CVT transmission bumping up the price to a princely £22,035.
That said, it feels a top quality piece of machinery and has lots of safety kit like a front centre airbag which expands into the space between the driver and front passenger in the event of a collision, and a collision mitigating brake system which automatically applies the brakes if necessary.
Honda Jazz 1.5 Crosstar EX CVT hybrid
Mechanical: 97PS, 1,498cc 4-cyl petrol engine and two electric motors driving front wheels via CVT auto transmission
Max Speed: 107mph
0-62mph: 9.9 secs
Combined MPG: 58.9
Insurance Group: 19
C02 emissions: 110g/km
Bik rating: 26%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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