First DriveThe new Honda Jazz is bigger than ever thanks to a new chassis and longer wheelbase. We test it on UK roads to see if it's better to drive, too
First DriveThird-generation Jazz benefits from a new, lighter chassis, tweaked steering, improved interior quality and the firm's latest infotainment system
What is it?
It’s a Jazz, the latest version of Honda’s versatile and extremely practical hatchback. Behind its familiar looks this is an almost entirely new car, although there are a few non-crucial carry-over components.
The original Jazz had an older buyer demographic than most superminis, with buyers drawn to its combination of versatility and reliability. Honda hopes that the new car will have broader appeal.
What’s it like?
It’s very good, but there’s little to see that will suck a younger generation of buyers in, because largely it’s more of the same.
The new Jazz does what the old Jazz does, only better. Dimensionally it’s similar to before: the same height, just 55mm longer, and 20mm wider.
Better packaging, however, means the doors open wider and rear passenger space has increased (the wheelbase is 50mm longer and the windscreen is further forward). There’s plenty of room for four normal-sized adults; five at a push.
There's also loads of storage space, including 10 cupholders. Interior feel isn’t up to the best European standards, with more hard plastics than soft ones in the cabin. But there are some neat design touches and the innovation and practicality are second-to-none in the supermini class.
You can fold the rear seats down, or the seat bases up, and there’s a fabulously clever boot floor that can be removed and stowed, adjusted to become a partition, an extra luggage net, an extra shelf… Or just be a boot floor. At 399 litres, no other B-sector’s boot is as big.
And to drive? We tested the 1.4-litre petrol which proved that the new Jazz is fine, little more, no less. All the major controls are light and progressive and the ride is more compliant than the original car’s slightly bouncy springing.
There isn’t the sort of dynamism that will necessarily attract younger buyers either, but it steers, grips and stops adequately enough. Honda’s Japanese engineers say they’d like to make a fast one; though whether the marketing bods will let them is another matter.
With a useful 99bhp and 93lb ft of torque, the 1.4 is sprightly enough, refined and smooth, and the manual gearbox has a lovely shift too.
Should I buy one?
If you’re tempted by it, you’ll probably like it a lot. The latest Jazz still isn’t the most dynamic or exciting supermini, but to the sort of people drawn to its all-round talents, that won’t matter a jot.
It’s not the sort of car you might necessarily want, but could well be precisely the car you need, and exactly the sort you end up buying and recommending to other people.