The Honda Jazz gets a fresh face and a more powerful engine for 2018
For some, the only small car that gets a look-in is the Honda Jazz. Its exceptional interior space lifts it well clear of almost any rival, and this practicality has led more than seven million people to hand over their hard-earned for one since the original Jazz was launched in 2001.
Itâ€™s particularly popular amongst older drivers; perhaps to broaden its appeal with those of a younger demographic, Honda is introducing a sportier-looking car as part of the 2018 mid-life facelift, which gets gloss-black 16-inch alloys and a more aggressive bodykit. Itâ€™s not all show, either, for thereâ€™s a more powerful 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine under the bonnet.
Honda Jazz 1.5 i-VTEC Sport
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Torque: 114lb ft
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
Kerb weight: 1116kg
Top speed: 118mph
Fuel economy: 47.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 133g/km
With 128bhp, itâ€™s appreciably more powerful than the regular 1.3-litre. It doesnâ€™t deliver this until 6600rpm though, and peak pulling power is also only found at more than 4500rpm. So although it can be quick, with 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds, you have to work the six-speed gearbox hard to release it.
Which uncovers a major flaw of this new engine: its lack of refinement. This is a very loud engine, becoming almost unpleasantly unrefined when you work it hard. Itâ€™s far from underpowered but the racket it makes means youâ€™ll be reluctant to utilise this.
Itâ€™s not much fun to drive either, due to a lack of feel through the steering and too much body roll. The ride is decent, but itâ€™s not as well-rounded as something like a Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza.
Those rivals are more nicely finished inside as well. The plastics are scratchy and hard, although it is well-assembled and feels built to last. The new Sport trim has details such as contrast stitching and a sporty steering wheel to spice things up; what a pity Honda hasnâ€™t updated its old-fashioned Connect infotainment system to suit. This is now well off the pace of rivals.
Where the Jazz still has a clear lead is in terms of interior practicality. At less than four metres long, itâ€™s similar in exterior dimensions to others in the class, but itâ€™s way roomier than them inside, with space for drivers of all shapes and sizes and almost unbelievable levels of space in the back. Even adults will be fine sitting behind drivers of a similar shape and size, and the boot is bigger than any rival as well â€“ itâ€™s as big as some from the family hatchback class above.
This is what will sell the Jazz to some â€“ well, that, and its peerless dependability. Itâ€™s without rival here. Itâ€™s just a pity even this new Sport variant canâ€™t deliver the on-road driving performance to match more able rivals. Factor in the lack of engine refinement and, for all its strengths, itâ€™s still no more than an average overall rating for Hondaâ€™s spacious supermini.