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.