It’s rare that a car can fool its occupants into thinking the engine has stalled because it’s so quiet. It’s even rarer for it to happen in the supermini class, yet we recorded the Honda Jazz 1.4 idling at just 36 decibels from inside the cabin.
This is barely louder than the ambient noise at our test track and means the Honda's engine is rendered all but inaudible in busy town streets. The other engines are similarly quiet, but we’d stick with the 1.4 for its blend of performance, economy and purchase price.
The 1.4-litre Jazz’s 99bhp is a respectable output for an engine that displaces only a little more than 1.3 litres, and although it’s a Honda unit with i-VTEC, don’t be fooled into thinking that those things make it a high-revving screamer.
If you do ask a lot of the Jazz you’ll find it reasonably brisk for its class. Any 1.4-litre supermini that ducks comfortably under 11sec for 0-62mph, but the Jazz wants 11.9 - or 12.8 with a CVT ‘box - but the Jazz’s 1.4 spins smoothly and willingly.
The hybrid takes a little over 12sec to reach 62mph and the 1.2 is only half a second slower, mainly due to its relative lack of mid-range punch. Despite the performance deficit, you’d have to drive the 1.2 and 1.4 back-to-back to spot the difference.
All major controls are easy-going, linear and predictable. Honda might say that the Jazz is targeted at a younger audience this time round but its engineers certainly haven’t neglected buyers whose joints operate with, shall we say, less fluency and precision than they once did.
The Jazz is a doddle to drive and its short, snatch-free gearshift is among the sweetest in production. As you’d imagine, the automatic versions are popular, but do put a dampener on proceedings.
It's fine at a sedate pace, but open the throttle, and the engine screams loudly. And a Sport mode in and automatic Jazz is as pointless as it is incongruous.