Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

THE Jazz 1.3 re­ally is a sen­si­ble car. It isn’t as sporty as the Ford Fi­esta or Mazda3, but it has a lot of use­able in­te­rior space and is ef­fi­cient. In a week of driv­ing, the lit­tle Honda used 5.7 litres/100km.

Sud­denly, the price of petrol doesn’t seem so bad. The gear­box in the man­ual ver­sion is pretty good, though a lit­tle notchy.

The 1.3 is a ter­rific en­gine and a good ex­am­ple of tra­di­tional petrol en­gines re­turn­ing re­spectable power and ef­fi­ciency fig­ures.

It revs harder and more smoothly than the last-gen­er­a­tion en­gine as well.

The en­gine does buzz at 100km/h as it does 3000 revs. It would be great if there was an ex­tra gear to lower that cruis­ing rev rate, but this car is built to a price.

The Jazz steers and han­dles rea­son­ably well for its class, though not as well as the Ford and Mazda ri­vals, which are sporty.

It doesn’t han­dle bumpy coun­try roads all that well and tends to bop around a bit over ruts in the city. It is more at home nav­i­gat­ing tight park­ing spa­ces and the com­bi­na­tion of its light steer­ing and com­pact di­men­sions means the Jazz is great for ur­ban du­ties.

Driv­ers and pas­sen­gers should ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity. This is due to the tall win­dows, but also the large win­dow sec­tion at the base of the A-pil­lars that helps you see what is go­ing on at ei­ther side of the ve­hi­cle.

Honda has hit the sweet spot with the ex­te­rior styling, which was given the thumbs up by a fo­cus group of young women.

Some of the in­te­rior styling looks a bit strange, in­clud­ing the three knobs for the cli­mate con­trol that are dif­fer­ent sizes.

The qual­ity of the sound sys­tem is crit­i­cal in this class and the one in the Jazz sounds great for a base model, con­sid­er­ably bet­ter than other sim­i­lar mod­els.

In­te­rior qual­ity is pretty good. The new Jazz is slightly larger than the pre­vi­ous one, but there was never any prob­lem with in­te­rior space. There is enough head­room for a Marge Simp­son hair-do.

The rear seats can be folded down to cre­ate a huge cargo area, which can carry a moun­tain bike or other large items.

Our test car was fit­ted with the $1000 safety pack, which is a wise in­vest­ment. It’s a shame about no elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, which should at least be an op­tion.

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