More by accident than design, we Pearsons seem to have a thing for the Honda Jazz.
My father started it, years ago, when he bought a 2003 model. He liked it, kept it and eventually replaced it with the second-generation version, passing the older car on to my wife. So if you see a note of bias creeping into these reports, you now know why.
In the inevitable three-way comparison, Autocar’s yellow third-gen car is best in most departments: ride, steering, handling, economy and safety. However, while our first-gen car is outclassed in all departments, the second-gen model actually feels more refined and more solidly built than our latest iteration.
The better refinement might stem from my father’s car being a CVT version, which matches a quick stepoff with reasonably good motorway refinement, even if the transmission’s noisy revving of the engine can make the job of getting up to speed quickly a bit uncivilised. Honda says the third-generation car is 12% lighter than the second-gen, and I wonder if it has shed some sound deadening to achieve this weight loss. On motorways, it’s very disappointing, with an overly vocal engine note and an annoying dollop of road noise.
The perceived quality of our car also disappoints a little. Where the second-gen car feels like a solid, oldschool Honda inside and out, our car feels a bit lightweight. Gone is that satisfying thunk when you close a door or shut the bootlid, for example.
I can’t honestly say our newer car feels any bigger inside, either, despite Honda’s claims that it is. Add in the fact that, to my eyes, the second-gen model looks better inside and out, and what emerges is that, if you do have a thing for the Jazz, the ideal one might be a second-generation example with the steering, dampers and safety kit of the latest model.