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

What Car? - - Contents - Neil Winn Neil.winn@hay­mar­ket.com

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

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