Even with the inclusion of torque vectoring by braking, and the improvements that Honda has made to the new Jazz’s chassis and structural rigidity, this is still no athlete. Unlike a Ford Fiesta or, to a lesser extent, the new Yaris, it offers little in the way of driver engagement or satisfaction, placing simplicity of operation, ease of use and outright handling security at the forefront of its dynamic repertoire.
There’s plenty of room for small cars with those dynamic priorities in today’s car market, of course, and this one does at least change direction in an accurate but laid-back fashion, with steering that’s medium-paced and reassuringly hefty feeling. Any heavier and it would detract from the Jazz’s easy-going nature; any lighter and it might not instil quite the same levels of assured-feeling solidity.
The car’s chassis balance at speed is neutral enough and it deals with faster corners without much in the way of fuss, although this is a softly sprung car for the supermini class, and one given to a bit of lateral body roll when leant on. The Yokohama tyres conjure a grip level that’s adequate but doesn’t advance much further than that. Even allowing for the underlying sense of predictability that its steering instils, the Jazz clearly isn’t a car intended to be thrown down a road with any feeling, but rather to reassure its driver at all speeds and in all environments with its pervasive sense of calm.
Such a mature, reserved philosophy does complement the car’s wider pragmatic streak rather nicely. It might not do much to win over the enthusiast, but for those buyers who don’t place an alert, engaging driving experience at the top of their priority list – nor indeed even at the bottom of it – such a positioning should serve the car well.
The Jazz is one of those rare cars that allows you to effectively drive the entire length of Millbrook’s challenging Hill Route with the throttle pinned to the floor. Its incredibly modest power reserves become readily apparent over the course’s various elevation changes, but that’s not entirely a bad thing.
In fact, it serves to showcase just how stable and sure-footed the Jazz remains even when it’s being thrashed. Through tighter bends, it usually seems to generate more than enough grip to stay on track, and when understeer does arrive, it’s very easily corrected with a brief lift of your right foot.