The challenge of designing and building a small hatchback certainly is no easy task. To start with, you’ve only a shoebox sized interior to stuff some measure of practicality into, then you have to sculpt what little panel work you have to work with into an appealing design and finally, keep the price no higher than your ankles. Honda’s Jazz has somehow managed to pull off this magic trick yet again and will continue to be a mainstay in this category for years to come.
The current design styling from Honda really seems to polarise opinion, it’s all a bit too busy and chaotic for some. For those that enjoy some excitement and modernity to their designs, you’ll find the Jazz VTi-L a handsome little hatchback. From the right angles it almost resembles a miniaturised Honda Odyssey. Comfortably modern in styling, the Jazz retains it’s signature shape that maximises interior space.
There’s no lack of room inside for the driver and passengers alike, the tall roof line gives ample headroom. Passengers in the rear have a mile of leg room and things only get cramped once all the seats are spoken for. We’re testing the top of the line VTi-L which comes with lashings of leather throughout to spruce up the joint.
The Jazz’s party trick falls to those rear seats that Honda dubbed “Magic Seats”. At a moments notice, they’ll fold completely flat to bring up the already capable 354 litres of boot space to 1,314 litres. When in their usual position, you’ll have room under the seat to tuck things in but pull them back and they’ll fold upright out of the way so you can stuff whatever you want into the rear section.
Visibility in the Jazz is excellent all round, thanks to large windows and the A-pillar cut-outs that remove the usual blind spot. Making things even easier is the included rear vision camera and rear proximity sensors.
The dashboard layout both looks and feels well built thanks to many soft touch and piano black materials used. The 7″ touchscreen display is easy enough to use but lacks the clarity and brightness needed to fight off a strong sunny day. In the dark of night you’d be better off twisting your neck in order to back out rather than rely on the reversing camera as the image comes through as quite noisy without adequate lighting.
When it comes to build quality, the Jazz is well put together in most areas but there’s certainly still room for improvement. For one, the engine bay comes only half painted and there’s no inner guard liners to be found inside the wheel arches. There’s also a few things missing from the interior, too, like no mute button for the wheel, no auto headlights or wipers and the folding mirrors won’t contract once parked.
- READ MORE: Honda Jazz full specification
Given that the VTi-L is the top spec Jazz, we’d also like to see digital radio included which is missing from the fairly decent sound system. Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are absent, though you can rely on the built in satellite navigation and the usual audio input methods. Some of these features come standard in rivals of equal trim level and we know Honda can easily include them as seen by the Civic so why does the Jazz get the short end of the stick here?
On the plus side, you get padded arm rests and heated front seats, Bi-LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, cruise control (not speed limited), paddle shifters, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry with push start and a security alarm.
A punchy little 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engine resides in the Jazz’s engine bay with the easy job of moving things around. There’s 88kW of power available at 6,600rpm and a useful 145Nm of torque maxing out at 4,800rpm. That’s more than enough to get you up and moving and never did it feel lacking for power even with 4 drunken mates weighing it down on a kebab run.
The engine is only a single cam unit but that cam does enjoy the added benefits of i-VTEC to make it a fairly economical unit. We managed 6.5L/100km with the usual heavy footed driving dished out to all our review cars, not far off of the 5.9L/100km Honda claims can be achieved.
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The CVT fitted to the engine keeps a low profile and gets the job done with no fuss. Gear shifts are neither rapid or sluggish and the whole driveline is quite smooth.
Through the bends, the Jazz maintains its composure with some body roll and a soft comfortable ride. Push it hard and you’ll get safe predictable understeer. Its steering is light and responsive with a reasonably small turning circle to squeeze through the tightest of multilevel car parks unscratched.
More often than not we’ll see small cars that don’t undergo the strenuous testing process to check their safety and we’re happy to announce that the Jazz has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating. Full length curtain airbags bring added safety to the rear passengers while the front occupants can rest easy with both load limited and pretensioner equipped front seatbelts.
Design and Comfort: 8.5/10
Performance and Handling: 6.5/10
Equipment and Features: 7.0/10
Honda has risen to the small car challenge yet again and the Jazz will no doubt sell strongly, backed up by their confidence inspiring 5-year warranty and bulletproof reliability. It’s a very strong contender.
At top spec and coming in at $22,990, the Jazz VTi-L is within striking distance of the entry level Civic which will be tempting for many. Personally I’d grab the entry level Jazz VTi manual and pocket a very sizable chunk of change while saving for something with a Type R badge.
- Stylish design
- Great visibility
- Small yet practical and safe
- Lacking some automatic features
- Infotainment screen difficult to view in sunlight
- No digital radio
2018 Honda Jazz VTi-L Price and Specification
|Price (Excl. on-road costs):||From: $22,990
As tested: $23,485
|Country of Origin:||Japan. Manufactured in Thailand|
|Service Intervals:||6 months/10,000km|
|Engine:||1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol i-VTEC
88kW @ 6,600rpm, 145Nm @ 4,800rpm
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):||79.8|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 5.9 / Tested: 6.5|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||40|
|Body:||5-door hatchback, 5 seats|
|Safety:||6 Airbags, ABS, BA, ESC, TCS, EBD, Brake Emergency Display, Front seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4028/1694/1524/2530|
|Tare Mass (kg):||1,103|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 450kg / Unbraked: 800kg|
|Entertainment:||7 inch touchscreen, 6 Speakers, Bluetooth/USB/Aux input, GPS Satellite navigation|
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