5 Honda Jazz

6.5 /10

Even without a turbo, the Jazz is the quickest hatch here, and on fuel economy it trails only the class-leading Polo

HONDA’s third-generation Jazz carries the mantle for a nameplate with an enviable reputation for capacious flexibility.

Given that the box shape and high roof aren’t exactly a blank canvas for creative expression, we’ve been happy with the practicality-versus-aesthetics trade-off over two preceding generations. But let’s just say the design and detailing of the 2015 model leave a bit to be desired...

The flipside is the carried-over versatility centred on Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’, which afford lots of room in the back and allow the little hatch to swallow a load of 1492 litres.

When the front passenger seat hasn’t been converted into an ottoman (truly!), the legroom behind is decent – similar to that in the Barina – and the tilting rear backrest is a neat feature. Because the Jazz’s fuel tank is packaged centrally under the floor, the rear passengers’ feet are up on an angle – a bit like the passenger footbrace in a rally car – which is comfortable.

But cut to the chassis and the Jazz’s steering; it’s a weak link that is sadly evident in all kinds of driving. Alongside the Honda’s lifeless lack of weight, feel and precision, the Polo feels like a Fiesta and even the Yaris feels half decent.

The comfort and balance of the Jazz’s confines, it rides agreeably, soaks speed humps and handles acceptably. But on a bumpy backroad, or at higher velocities, its ability vaporises. The suspension is noisy and poorly controlled, the ride is lumpy and the Jazz’s dynamic repertoire proves as dismal as its packaging is brilliant.

Granted, the target buyer likely won’t venture into the backroads often. But the Jazz’s underlying lack of polish limits its breadth of ability and signposts a saddening cynicism from a brand that once bristled with innovation and built cars that sparkled.

Unexpectedly, the Jazz is the quickest hatch here, and without a turbocharger in sight. The Honda’s carryover 88kW 1.5-litre four has ‘i-VTEC’, which presumably means it can breathe like a good ’90s Honda mill even without a second camshaft.

Revving its little heart out, the Jazz’s 10.2sec 0-100km/h and 7.0sec 80-120km/h times aren’t that quick in the grand scheme of things, and its CVT does nothing to heighten the sense of speed, yet this is a highly effective drivetrain for all duties. A real-world 7.0L/100km (second-best of the group) over the mixed driving conditions of this Megatest is a level of thrift that’s found in few other classes. chassis works in urban confines where Unfortunately, recorded by our testing equipment exemplified the low priority Honda places on dynamics these days. The Jazz needed 43 metres to pull up from 100km/h, where everything else took around 40m, ranging from the Polo and Clio (38.7 and 38.8m respectively) to the Peugeot (41.8m).

Rear drum brakes aren’t uncommon in this class, but it’s a shame the Jazz has made the retrograde step from rear discs.

A car length is a lot of unnecessary extra stopping distance – far more than the margin between a bingle and a near-miss.

Equal cheapest with the Mazda 2 Neo, the only rivals close to the Jazz VTi in price fall well below it in our rankings, which makes the Honda great buying. Consider the standard equipment and the $16,990 Honda looks like a bargain. On the hit list are a rear-view camera and an attractive touchscreen (with HDMI port for videos) among all the class-staple inclusions.

Yet the Honda finishes in fifth place with the same rating as the Peugeot, though each car accrues its stars via an entirely different set of strengths. If you prioritise practicality and do all your driving in the ’burbs, then the Jazz is a decent pick. However, as a Honda, its indifference is disheartening. – JW Unfortunately the other number

HONDA JAZZ VTi

$17,485* Engine 1497cc 4cyl, sohc, 16v Power 88kW @ 6600rpm Torque 145Nm @ 4600rpm Transmission CVT automatic Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) 3996/1694/1524/2530mm Weight 1095kg Cargo capacity 350 litres Tyres Bridgestone Turanza ER370 175/65R15 84T Economy 7.0L/100km 0-60km/h 5.0sec 0-100km/h 10.2sec 0-400m 17.3sec @ 134.5km/h 80-120km/h 7.0sec 100-0km/h 43.0m 3yr resale 65% Equipment, efficiency . Dynamics, seats, styling *Includes metallic paint ($495)

Wheeler dealer

HONDA specifies a six-month service interval for the Jazz.

When you consider six of its eight rivals can happily go 12 months between trips to the service centre, it seems an unnecessary inconvenience. However, the Honda isn’t necessarily more costly to service as a result of its more frequent service requirement. For example, it’s slightly cheaper to service over the first three years than the Mazda 2, which has a 12-month interval.