Meet the new Jazz. Same as the old Jazz, but better

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.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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julianphillips 1 September 2008

Re: Honda Jazz 1.4

I don't mind the Caliber. The spec list is fantastic on the SXT and the top end audio system comes with a drop-down speaker system in the tailgate! Used prices are unbelievable - I've seen excellent looking petrol engined versions on Autotrader for £6k.

Horatio Q Birdbath 1 September 2008

Re: Honda Jazz 1.4

IWhilst I have complete respect for the design, practicality, efficency and build quality for the Jazz, if I should ever have the misfortune to be seen in one, hopefully someone will shoot me!

I am the perfect "Target Age Group"..retired, grey haired, 61 year old retired man but this car is just the most perfect example of dull thinking, sheep like inspiration, total dislike of motoring and of being mean, self satisfied and smug.....add in that deeply awful metallic pink paint job, quite the most tasteless and inept "Sport" bodykit and those dreadful seats and there are few cars as unattractive...even a City Rover has rariety in it's favour. The Jazz is the car you buy just before you die or maybe even after you already have!

This week I was given a service loan car for a few days..a Dodge Caliber SXT Sport. The interior plastics are dreadful and has comfortable seats, a stunning sound system, a truly beautiful set of instrument lights (no..go on,have a look and see what I mean!), it is spacious, practical, loaded in clever touches, looks very edgy, ride far better than the Jazz can dream of, handles far better and does 45/55 mpg (town/motorway) from it's 2.0 litre VW diesel engine..and is yours for less than £12000 brand new or more like £10000 on a "57/08" plate. It may be challenging to the blue rinsed, Bowling Club, Investment Plan IHT brigade but at least it's not deathly dull!

FinFerNan 26 August 2008

Re: Honda Jazz 1.4

My partner has a current model Jazz, she's owned it from new ie nearly four years now.

I drive it fairly regualrly and can't agree that the seats are uncomfortable. In fact for a small car they are quite unusually comfortable in my opinion. We tend to use her car for shared trips, including 250 mile trips down to Cornwall etc. The ride is a little choppy/firm at lower speeds and compared to my car it lacks a bit of go on the motorway.

The main problem with the Jazz is it's blue rinse image. Whilst I assure you that neither I nor my partner are that old ie we have no grey hairs or false teeth just yet! However, I do acknowledge that the Jazz is not a chav wagon :)

It is what it is, a very reliable little workhorse and no more. View it as such and it hits the spot nicely.

I will reserve judgement on the new one until I see it in the flesh.