Mid-life refresh for practical small car
Small hatch gains a more powerful 1.5-litre petrol engine, a new trim level and styling updates On sale Now Price from £14,115
THE HONDA JAZZ has a reputation as the favourite car of Britain’s grandparents. That may be so, but it’s a strong seller precisely because it’s easily the most spacious and practical among its peers.
For 2018, the Jazz has had a very light refresh. Honda has introduced a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that becomes the most powerful in the range, sitting above the existing 1.3.
Performance isn’t the 1.3 unit’s strong point, so the 1.5 has an extra 30bhp, cutting the Jazz’s 0-62mph time from 11.2sec to 8.7sec.
The boost in pace is noticeable. The new engine offers more flexibility, pulling harder from low revs than the 1.3. It is, however, naturally aspirated, whereas many rival units are turbocharged. This means you have to rev the engine hard if you want a real turn of speed and you’ll be shifting gears more often than in rival cars.
But the real issue is engine noise; the Jazz has the loudest petrol engines in its class. That isn’t a good thing; after all, it’s not a sporty exhaust note but something altogether more boomy and strained. So, although this 1.5 offers better performance than the 1.3, it’s noisier with it.
At least the Jazz’s handling is predictable and assured, while the light steering makes driving around town easy. Ride quality, though, is unsettled, especially at low speeds, and the Jazz doesn’t offer the polished and enjoyable drive of rivals such as the Seat Ibiza.
But the real standout for the Jazz has always been practicality, and that remains unchanged. People taller than 6ft will have no problem getting comfortable in the front or the back, and the boot is one of the biggest in its class.
A new trim level, Sport, brings sporty exterior styling, LED headlights and 16in alloys, but it’s too expensive to recommend. We’d suggest sticking to our favourite SE trim.
The latest trim may be expensive, but the new engine is not. Trim for trim, about £200 upgrades you from the lethargic 1.3 to the nippier 1.5, albeit with a penalty in CO2 emissions and fuel economy.
This new engine is the pick of the range, but we’d suggest looking at other small cars first, such as the Ibiza or Volkswagen Polo. They’re better to drive, have plusher interiors, still offer good space and cost a similar amount.
The Jazz’s light steering makes driving around town easy