The first Honda Jazz was one of those cars that was easy to recommend to people who - and if this sounds damning, it isn’t meant to - didn’t care much for driving. “I just want a reliable, practical car to get me from A to B,” they might say. “Buy a Honda Jazz then,” you might reply.

Although Honda is targeting, somewhat inevitably, a more dynamic audience this time, and while the firm’s senior engineers would like to do a hot version, the Jazz remains one of the more staid cars in this market to drive.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Editor-at-large
Don’t expect driver thrills; Jazz buyers want peace and comfort

Where a Ford Fiesta gives an incisive turn-in and athletic poise, the Jazz gives light, slow-geared steering and an excellent 9.48m turning circle.

Being enthusiasts, we like a little more fizz and pizzazz from our superminis, but it would be churlish to overly criticise Honda for making a car that will match most of its customers’ dynamic needs to the letter.

The Jazz’s secondary ride is compliant, at the inevitable expense of some softness and loss of body control. And although slow-geared and light, its steering is accurate enough. There’s an underlying soundness to the chassis balance, too.

But there is a dearth of excitement when piloting a Jazz. Moreover, despite changes to its suspension and more aggressive appearance, the Jazz Si - the closest Jazz does to a hot version - is no Fiesta Zetec S. Yes, it gains a little composure in the bends, but consequently loses some compliance. Similarly, while bigger wheels and tyres lend the Jazz Si greater grip thresholds, they do thump over broken surfaces more noticeably.

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Ultimately, the limited scope of the Si modifications are manifested in the driving experience; it simply isn't that different to a standard Jazz.

The Jazz’s tendency is to understeer at its limit - exactly as it should - which is kept soundly in check by the stability control system (VSA) that’s standard on all models. However, VSA can still be switched out completely, and in the wet the Jazz displays a wider dynamic range.

The Jazz is a fine car but we’d hoped it would display a little more vim and if Honda really is serious about attracting a more youthful buyer, we have a nagging feeling it needs to.

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