The Jazz (which is known as the Fit in other global markets) has a keen following with younger buyers in Honda’s home market of Japan. In Europe, though – and the UK in particular – it has always had something of an image problem.
Try as Honda might, the Jazz’s supermini-cum-MPV profile has never really caught on with the younger, more image-conscious members of the car-buying public, having instead earned itself the reputation of a car for the retired garden centre set.
Looking at this latest version, you might conclude that Honda has come to accept that fact. In its design, the new car seems to have much more in common with the relatively plain second-generation version than its showier third-generation predecessor. Its surface treatments are cleaner and simpler, its grille design isn’t as fussy.
Generally, there just seems to be less going on – and also less to catch the eye. This is likely the result of Honda’s new ‘Yoo no bi’ design philosophy, which supposedly focuses on the beauty of everyday usability. But while the car might not pack the same level of visual punch as the latest Yaris or Clio, most testers agreed that calling the Jazz unattractive would be unjust. It’s a relatively handsome car, but it certainly isn’t one that will turn many heads on the high street.
In as much as it champions function over form, the Jazz is as impressive as ever. From a packaging perspective, it’s quite the engineering showcase. The fuel tank is housed beneath the front seats to maximise second-row load space and to allow Honda to equip its versatile upwards-folding ‘Magic’ rear seat cushions.
The car prioritises space efficiency elsewhere, too. In the engine bay, the air intake system for the Jazz’s four-cylinder motor is mounted on top of the block, which frees up room for the electric drive motor and the integrated starter-generator that make up the hybrid system. Honda’s engineers have therefore been able to squeeze the car’s 12V auxiliary battery in under the bonnet, too, which frees up boot space.
The hybrid system itself develops an effective total output of 107bhp, which is directed to the front wheels via an innovative fixed-gear e-CVT. The motor/generators, meanwhile, draw their energy from a lithium ion drive battery carried under the boot floor and, when working in tandem with the combustion engine, can provide as much as 187lb ft of torque.