Review: Honda Jazz (2015)
Unrivalled practicality and versatility. Plenty of room for four adults to travel in comfort. Surprisingly fun to drive, especially 1.5iVTEC Sport model.
Only two engine choices: both naturally-aspirated petrol. Irritating infotainment system with no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Production of 1.5iVTEC Sport ended in May 2019.
Honda Jazz (2015): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 91% of the official MPG figure
The Honda Jazz is something of an unsung hero among small hatches. Unfairly derided for its sensible image and traditionally more 'mature' owner - the average buyer age is over 60 - the Jazz has never quite had the appeal of the likes of the Volkswagen Polo or Ford Fiesta. But maybe this third generation Jazz - complete with a Sport model - is finally changing that.
This Jazz takes all the strengths of its predecessor - namely clever packing, an incredibly practical interior and Tardis-like amounts of space - and builds on them to create one of the best small hatches on sale.
It does of course retain Honda's ingenious 'magic seats' that fold and flip in various configurations to allow you to carry surprisingly large items - like plants, upright vacuum cleaners and bikes. Yet there's even more interior room, a larger boot and plenty of clever little touches to make everyday life easier. In fact, it has the room and versatility to shame much larger cars.
It has the feel of a much bigger car on the motorway too, with high comfort levels and a relaxed nature. Honda has managed to make the Jazz much better in corners too, with lots of grip and nicely weighted steering. There have also been big improvements to the interior quality and finish, while this Jazz is also one of the most refined small cars around with little road noise and a superbly forgiving ride.
Most Jazz models are powered by a 1.3-litre i-VTEC petrol engine, which does lack low down response as it's not turbocharged. But it has more than enough power for the little Jazz and is very quiet. It also works very well with both the standard six-speed manual or the optional CVT automatic.
Since 2018, Jazz buyers have also been able to opt for a 1.5-litre petrol engine in Sport trim. A clear attempt to attract younger buyers, the Sport features a red stripe on the front, sporty side skirts and a rear spoiler. Gloss black 16-inch alloys are standard, while orange stitching adds a touch of sportiness to the interior.
Like the 1.3, the 1.5 is a naturally-aspirated engine. This means it needs to be worked hard compared to turbocharged rivals, but enthusiastic drivers might enjoy building the revs. Indeed, the Jazz Sport is a surprisingly fun car to drive, as long as you're not expecting instant thrills.
The one thing the Jazz is not is cheap. New prices start north of £14,000 for the entry S model which is decently equipped, but an SE model with the CVT gearbox will set you back close to £17,000. At £17,280, the Sport model undercuts rivals like the 140PS Ford Fiesta ST-Line and 150PS Seat Ibiza FR, but we suspect the target audience would rather pay a premium for the extra performance - not to mention stronger image - of rivals.
But the Jazz is well equipped for that money and comes with pretty much all the extras you will ever need. Add in its big car feel along with a high quality finish and the Honda starts to justify its higher price tag. Plus of course no other small car offers as much interior space and practicality as the Jazz - helped by its clever 'magic seats'. It's simply the most versatile small car on sale and one that's easy to recommend.
What does a Honda Jazz (2015) cost?
Honda Jazz (2015): What's It Like Inside?
The Jazz may be a small car but it's amazingly versatile and practical - more so than many larger cars. Thanks to its clever design there's an abundance of space inside, with lots of head room and plenty of leg room.
In fact Honda says there's as much knee room in the back as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Indeed even with both front seats pushed all the way back, you can still happily carry four adults in comfort.
Taller drivers may find the driving position a touch cramped. It feels like the seat could do with going back another couple of inches, but the seats themselves are comfortable enough with decent support. You can happily cover long distances in the Jazz in comfort. Other features like the wide-opening doors make getting in the back - or fitting child seats - a painless process.
But what really makes the Honda so practical is the ingenious 'magic seats' which made their debut in the 2001 Honda Jazz. These fold forward in one clever movement to create a flat load floor. But their real party trick is that they flip up and lock on place, allowing you to carry tall items like plants on the rear floor. No other small car can match the clever practicality of the Jazz.
The latest Jazz is more spacious than before and that means a bigger boot - up by 17 litre to a maximum 354 litres of load space. It's a very useful space too with a wide opening and low load lip making lifting things like pushchairs in a doddle.
If you need to carry larger objects than the rear seats can be folded, giving a flat load deck with 1314 litres to the roof. It’s also possible to fold the front passenger seat, meaning items like planks or a surfboard will fit - you can even fold the seats to form two beds.
The quality of the finish and the material used is top notch, which goes some way to justify the high list price of the Jazz. It feels a cut above your usual hatchback yet is still durable and hardwearing.
The Honda Connect infotainment system - standard on SE models and above - is one of our biggest gripes with the Jazz. It's slow and frustrating to use, and the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will no doubt put off some of the young buyers Honda's trying to attract with the Sport.
Having said that, standard equipment levels are good. All models, even the entry-level S, get Bluetooth, a USB port, air conditioning, hill start assist, front and rear curtain airbags, electric windows front and back, cruise control plus the city-brake active system.
The SE is our pick of the range adding the Honda Connect system, alloy wheels, parking sensors and heated door mirrors.
S models get air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter and dusk sensing auto lights. Every grade comes with Honda’s City-Brake Active to help avoid low-speed accidents.
SE models add front and rear parking sensors, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors and 15-inch alloy wheels. A myriad of driver assist systems are also standard, including lane departure warning, intelligent speed limiter and traffic sign recognition.
EX models come with smart entry and start, automatic air conditioning and six-speaker audio upgrade. Styling is enhanced with 16-inch alloy wheels and front fog lamps.
Sport models feature styling upgrades including a thinner front splitter with a red stripe, side skirts and a bold rear diffuser. A tailgate spoiler is standard as are 16-inch black alloy wheels. Inside, the steering wheel and gear knob are finished in leather, while orange stitching brightens up the cabin.
Child seats that fit a Honda Jazz (2015)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Honda Jazz (2015) like to drive?
Jazz buyers get a choice of two naturally-aspirated petrol in the engines in the Jazz - a 1.3-litre and a 1.5-litre. Honda has resisted following the current trend for smaller capacity turbocharged engines, but the 1.3-litre that most buyers choose still has a reasonable 102PS which is more than adequate for a car as light as the Jazz. It tips the scales at just over a tonne.
The fact it's not turbocharged means the Jazz does lack a little in low down response. It's fine around town but can be frustrating when accelerating onto a fast flowing dual carriageway from a slip road. This is down to the fact the 1.3 i-VTEC only has 123Nm of torque - in comparison the Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost produces 170Nm.
As it's an i-VTEC engine, the Jazz really comes into its own at high revs, which is somewhat at odds with the Honda's billing as a sensible small hatch. It will happily rev all the way up to a dizzy 6500rpm and isn't coarse in the process. In fact it buzzes along with real gusto, although we doubt this is what many Jazz owners will want to do.
If you're after a lazier drive, the 1.5-litre Sport isn't the Jazz for you. Just like the 1.3, the bigger engine needs to be worked hard for its performance. If you're willing to do that, however, you might be surprised at just how fun it is. This isn't a car for those who want to ride a wave of torque, but rev towards the limiter and the Sport can make surprising progress.
During more relaxed everyday driving, both Jazz engines are quiet and refined while the ride quality is phenomenally good for any car, let alone one this small. It's smooth over rough surfaces and glides over speed bumps. On the motorway the Jazz feels like a much bigger car, with a relaxed and stable feel along with little in the way of wind or road noise.
A six-speed manual comes as standard or there's the option of a CVT automatic gearbox. The manual works very well with a positive change, a light clutch and low overall gearing. But don't discount the CVT. It suits the relaxed nature of the Jazz perfectly. True it can prove noisy under acceleration, but for the most part it is smooth. Plus it benefits from European-specific software to give more predictable, manual car-like behaviour.
The Jazz is cheap to run thanks to its good economy. Go for the manual and the official figures show 56.5mpg for 1.3-litre S and SE models. Opting for the CVT automatic sees this improve to 61.4mpg for the S model. The 1.5-litre Sport returns 47.9mpg when paired with the manual gearbox, compared to 52.3mpg as an auto. Not as impressive as the 1.3, but our Real MPG data shows that naturally-aspirated engines tend to perform better than turbocharged units in the real world.
Not only is the Jazz refined, quiet and economical, it's also a revelation to drive. Honda has taken all of its handling know how and applied it to the previously ordinary Jazz. As a result, it's mighty impressive in corners with lots of front end grip and nicely weighted steering. You can happily tackle a tight bend with some gusto and the Jazz will give you plenty of confidence.
|1.3 i-VTEC||54–55 mpg||11.2–11.5 s||116–120 g/km|
|1.3 i-VTEC CVT||58–60 mpg||12.0–12.3 s||106–114 g/km|
|1.5 i-VTEC||48 mpg||8.7 s||134 g/km|
|1.5 i-VTEC CVT||52 mpg||10.1 s||125 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Honda Jazz (2015)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the Honda Jazz (2015)?
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