What is it?
Here’s an oxymoron if ever there was one: a Sport badge on a Honda Jazz. Yet, that moment has arrived as part of a series of revisions to your nan’s favourite supermini with the space of a mini-MPV.
The Sport badge refers more to exterior tweaks than dynamic ones (think the usual sporty bodykit and alloy treatment), but there’s a mild whiff of sport about the new 1.5-litre engine and its 128bhp and 114lb ft.
Those figures are no hot hatch – and not even warm hatch – but the experience of our first drive on UK roads shows they at least provide something other than pure visual trickery to justify that Sport badge.
What's it like?
While most of the Jazz’s supermini rivals do a fine impression of a car from the family hatchback class above in the way they drive, the Jazz instead opts to imitate cars from the city car class below.
The whole driving experience is dominated by its new four-cylinder engine. And not in a good way – it makes an absolute racket. Not an endearing, rorty noise like a Ford 1.0 Ecboost or Mini’s charming, flexible 1.5 triple, but a high-pitched scream from under the bonnet. Perhaps Honda’s automotive R&D team paid a visit to its lawnmower department for advice on how to tune an engine.
You can forget about taking it on the motorway if you’re planning a relaxing drive, and you can also forget about driving it in a smooth way around town, as the throttle simply acts as an on-off switch to the din, particularly when there’s some clutch involved. Some delicacy is needed with the use of your feet to try to keep things hush.
Shame, because all that racket detracts from the fact that it’s actually got a fair bit of grunt when you get the revs up. If your earplugs are in, it’s an amusing thing to propel out of a roundabout if you’ve carried a bit of speed into it. And it turns in to a corner keenly enough, if never with involvement. The manual gearbox is also a slick thing.
But Jazzes aren’t driven that way and nor are they bought for that reason. They’re bought for all that space – which is where the Jazz’s impression of a car from the class above comes in. It’s a spacious, airy interior in which to sit, with lots of leg room for rear passengers and boot space to eclipse a Seat Ibiza or Volkswagen Polo. The flexible folding magic seats, of course, make an appearance here.