What is it?
Such is the esteem in which the European market is held that this Honda Jazz won’t find its way into a UK showroom until some unspecified time in 2015 despite already being unveiled out here in its native Japan, albeit badged as ever in this part of the world as a Honda Fit.
Yet if you liked the old Jazz you may consider waiting because you’re going to love this new one. And if it wasn’t your slice of cake then, it’s unlikely its replacement is going to do much to sway your opinion.
For although it’s an entirely new car with a new platform some 50mm longer in the wheelbase and new powertrains, the philosophy behind it is entirely unchanged, and with almost five million cars sold in its last dozen years in the market, you can appreciate why Honda is loathe to vary the formula. This is a car for practically minded people who want a car of Fiesta dimensions on the outside and better than Focus space within. If you’re looking to make a style statement, you’ve banged on the wrong door.
What's it like?
As ever, what you notice first inside is the space.
If anything, thanks to that extra length between the wheels, there seems to be even more room in here, especially in the back where a six foot passenger can sit behind a six foot driver and still have space to sprawl.
Obviously it lacks the cabin width to work as anything other than a quite cramped five seater, but if there’s only ever going to be four of you travelling, you may well question the point of spending more money on a car that’s larger only on the outside.
Frustratingly Honda Europe says it has not yet begun to think about which engines it will take so while Honda R&D boss Yoshiharu Yamamoto told me a diesel Jazz would be “a very attractive specification” in Europe, those who have seen the long-term product plan insist there’s no diesel involved.
Far more likely is a new 1.0-litre, three-pot turbo motor generating 105bhp. Irritatingly I was allowed only to drive it in a Civic but despite the extra weight it gave an excellent account of itself and subjectively seemed at least a match for Ford’s groundbreaking and similarly specified rival motor.
The Fit/Jazz I did drive had a new 1.5-litre hybrid engine offering a combined 133bhp and a seven-speed double clutch transmission in place of the old CVT from the current Jazz hybrid.
That power might imply junior hot hatch performance, but that’s not how it feels: it steps off smartly on electric power alone (and will do up to 50mph or around two miles – but not both – before the engine cuts in) but the petrol engine is noisy when extended and the double clutch transmission is sometimes slow to execute your instructions. It rides and handles well enough from what could be told from a featureless test track, but is unlikely to challenge for class best.
Should I buy one?
With the 1.0-litre turbo motor however I can see it as a highly credible next step in the Jazz story. It’s such a shame we have to wait so long for it to be told.