What is it?
Let’s be honest, you’re unlikely to find a souped-up Honda Jazz in a gathering of boy racers’ modified superminis at the local Morrisions car park. The Jazz is a different kind of supermini. It’s more spacious, easier-going and a bit more grown-up than its peers.
However, this new limited-edition model, the Jazz Si, is the car to challenge that stereotype. It is a car that, Honda claims, brings to the Jazz range “sporty looks and additional racy features”. Sounds intriguing.
What is it like?
It’s certainly the Jazz with the greatest visual appeal. Cosmetic additions for the Si over the Jazz ES on which it is based include new front bumpers and side skirts, and a set of 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels shod in 55-section tyres.
There’s also privacy glass, special ‘Si’ badging and a new pair of front foglights to help distinguish the Si as the Jazz with attitude. A new leather steering wheel and some new fabric trim are among the interior mods.
It’s not simply cosmetic changes for the Jazz Si, though. Honda has also given the suspension an overhaul, including new dampers and a larger front anti-roll bar, designed to improve straight-line stability and body control. The suspension is not lowered, though.
Do these dynamic changes make the Jazz a sportier proposition? Not really. The Si is just a firmer-riding and more composed version of the standard car rather than anything even approaching sporty.
In the standard Jazz, the secondary ride is compliant at the expense of some body control. Certainly, body control is improved in the Si thanks to the suspension tweaks, with a slight loss in compliance as a result. Bigger alloy wheels and lower-profile tyres inevitably provide some extra bumps and thumps over broken surfaces, but it’s never intrusive.
The suspension tweaks do make the Jazz a touch more willing when cornering. The front end hangs on for longer than you’d expect before washing into understeer, not that even the keenest of Jazz drivers is likely to push the car to that stage, despite the Si’s sporty intentions.
Where the idea of a sporty Jazz really falls down is in its powertrain. The 98bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine carries over unchanged from its application in the Jazz ES. And a sporty engine it is not. The real problem is a lack of torque, and how high into the rev range that peak torque arrives – the 94lb ft maximum doesn’t appear until 4800rpm.
Should I buy one?
It’s best, then, to think of this as a Jazz with a touch more exclusivity – just 1000 examples will be made – and sharper looks than any other model in the range.
Honda didn’t set out to make a warm hatch with the car but, in overhauling the suspension and looks, it seems a shame not to have taken the opportunity to give the engine more grunt and create a Jazz with a touch more enthusiast appeal.
Honda Jazz Si
Price: £14,550; 0-62mph: 11.9sec; Top speed: 113mph; Economy: 50.4mpg (combined); CO2: 129g/km; Kerb weight: 1112kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1339cc, petrol; Power: 98bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 94lb ft at 4800rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual