What stands out?
The drawcard for the Honda Jazz city car has always been its ability to swallow luggage, courtesy of its box-shaped body and clever flip-folding seats. It also has a very good infotainment interface (standard on even the keenly priced Jazz VTi), a surprising turn of speed, a frugal engine, and a five-year warranty.
What might bug me?
That the steering and handling falls short of the superb standard set by the Honda you owned in the 1990s (or earlier).
Driving at less than 80km/h on the space-saver spare until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.
What body styles are there?
Five-door hatchback. Though Honda does have a sedan version called the City
The Jazz drives its front wheels, and it is classed as a light car, lower priced.
What features does every Jazz have?
Air-conditioning, cruise control, and power-adjusted exterior mirrors.
A hill-start assist system, which operates the brakes automatically to make take-offs on hills easier.
A multi-information display for the driver that presents the average fuel consumption, range-to-empty and outside temperature, and a programmable speed alarm.
Steering wheel controls for the audio system, a Bluetooth phone and the cruise control. A Siri eyes-free voice command function.
A 7.0-inch colour touchscreen interface for the Bluetooth phone and the audio system - which has an AM/FM radio, and USB and HDMI sockets.
A multi-angle reversing camera that offers normal, wide and top-down views.
A space-saver spare wheel, with speed and distance restrictions.
Six airbags. Electronic stability control, which can help you control a skidding car. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Jazz safety features, please open the Safety section below.)
Every Honda Jazz carries a five-year, unlimited distance warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?
There is only one engine in the Honda Jazz, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder that uses a miserly 5.9 litres/100km with automatic transmission, on the official combined cycle test, and slightly more in manual form.
In real-world comparison testing conducted for the March 2015 issue of Wheels magazine, a Honda Jazz with this engine averaged 7.0 litres/100km, ranking with the Volkswagen Polo and Mazda2 among the most frugal of nine light cars reviewed.
The Jazz also has plenty of power for a car of its size, proving quicker than the eight alternatives driven.
The auto transmission is a continuously variable type (CVT). The manual gearbox is a five-speeder, and offered only in the least costly model, the VTi.
(Power outputs and all other Honda Jazz specifications are available from the Cars Covered menu under the main image on this page.)
What key features do I get if I spend more?
The least costly Jazz, the VTi, comes with cloth-covered seats, manually controlled air-conditioning, satellite navigation, conventional halogen headlamps, and steel wheels with plastic trim. A manual gearbox is standard, or you can pay more for an auto.
Spend more for a Jazz VTi-S and auto transmission is standard. You also get a leather-trimmed steering wheel and satellite navigation. The external mirrors can be power-folded out of harm’s way, and the headlights use long-lived LEDs for low beam. Exterior aesthetics are enhanced with side skirts, a tailgate-mounted spoiler, and foglights. Wheels are made from nicer looking aluminium alloy, dispensing with the plastic trim caps. The wheels also grow an inch in diameter to 16 inches, with the tyre sidewalls shrinking slightly to compensate – again mainly to provide a sportier look.
The most expensive Jazz, the VTi-L, has part-leather seats, with seat heaters in the front. Climate control air-conditioning maintains a set temperature. A smart key allows you to unlock the car while the key remains secure in your pocket or bag. Headlamps use very bright LEDs for both low and high beam, and there are LED daytime running lights. Paddle-shifters on the steering wheel give you some manual control of the CVT auto. You also get rear parking sensors – which help you judge how close you are to an obstacle behind.
Does any upgrade have a down side?
No item of extra equipment has a drawback in itself, but the Jazz VTi’s excellent value dissipates as you progress to the VTi-S and VTi-L.
Of seven paint colours offered for the Jazz, just one – Rallye Red – is standard. All others cost an extra $500.
How comfortable is the Honda Jazz?
The Jazz is quite comfortable to drive and ride in, although how comfortable depends on where you drive it.
The suspension is good at dealing with urban speed humps and smoothing out patchy arterial roads. However, over the different kinds of bumps and surfaces encountered on country trips, it struggles to isolate occupants from the road and is relatively noisy.
From a seating and ergonomic viewpoint, the Jazz has much more going for it. A tilt and reach adjustable steering column and simple yet supportive front seats, with height adjustment for the driver, promote a comfortable position for the driver and front passenger. Vision out for the driver is very good.
The Jazz’s cabin materials are of good quality, including the dash plastics, fabric or leather seat trim, and carpet. The design of the dash itself is quite neat, headlined by the appealingly crisp colour touchscreen. On the more expensive Jazz VTi-S and VTi-L, built-in satellite navigation (introduced about September 2017) helps you find your way around town without relying on a smartphone.
What about safety in a Jazz?
Every Honda Jazz has anti-lock brakes, stability control, six airbags, hill-start assist, a comprehensive reversing camera, and fast-responding LED taillights.
The six airbags are in the usual places: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant at chest level to protect you from side impacts; and a curtain airbag on each side at head level, protecting occupants front and rear from side impacts.
The forward location of the Jazz’s A-pillars (those either side of the windscreen) and large, downward tapering front side windows allow good vision for tight corners and roundabouts, increasing primary safety. Door-mounted exterior mirrors aid vision in the same driving conditions.
The Jazz VTi-L has LED daytime running lights, which make it easier for other drivers to see you.
Automatic emergency braking is not available on a Honda Jazz.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Honda Jazz its maximum five-star rating for safety, in January 2015.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?
You will enjoy the Honda Jazz on a practical level, because it is so light and easy to drive. It makes an effortless city car.
However, if you like driving in the sense that most car enthusiasts do, that will be the limit of the enjoyment you get from the Jazz.
The Jazz’s steering stands out as the weak point. It is too light, and lacks both precision and a strong sense of connection with the road.
The suspension feels composed on smooth roads, but on lumpier surfaces it loses its balance – especially if the Jazz encounters bumps in the middle of a corner.
The engine offers very good power and performance for a light car, but can’t make up for the fact that the Jazz is not a sporty steer.
On the Jazz VTi-L, the CVT auto can be manually operated using gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel, which makes it more fun than some conventional automatics.
How is life in the rear seats?
The Jazz’s rear seat accommodation is good to great by comparison with other light cars. In its favour are decent legroom and generous headroom.
The Jazz’s rear floor tapers upwards, which provides a comfortably angled surface for rear occupants to place their feet on. The slope accommodates the Jazz’s fuel tank, which is in the centre of the car under the floor.
The Jazz has a two-setting adjustment for the rear backrest angle, though the more upright setting is the more comfortable of the two. The rear seat base offers good under-thigh support.
The seat can carry three passengers, with lap and sash belts for all.
How is it for carrying stuff?
The Jazz is excellent at carrying stuff – Honda built the model’s reputation on capacious flexibility, and that reputation lives on in the current, third-generation car.
The Jazz’s rear cargo area is quite big, at 350 litres, and Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’ mean you can expand the total luggage area to an enormous 1492 litres. Yes, it can swallow a bicycle easily.
In addition to folding away to create a flat cargo floor, the rear seats can be flipped up to liberate tall space for luggage in the area usually occupied by rear passengers.
There’s more space available behind the Jazz’s back seats – and more options for reconfiguring the seats – than in any alternative.
Where is the Honda Jazz made?
The Honda Jazz is manufactured in Thailand.
What might I miss that similar cars have?
Possibly the effortless low-speed accelerator pedal response of turbocharged light cars, such as the Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo. But the Jazz goes just as hard if you work the engine.
An extra gear in the five-speed manual VTi. Many light car rivals offer six-speed manual gearboxes, improving responsiveness and fuel economy and reducing noise when cruising.
The latest active safety features, such as automatic emergency braking. This is standard on every Mazda2, for example, and optional on every Toyota Yaris.
The ability to show apps from your smartphone on the touchscreen and control them from there, via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Polo, Suzuki Swift and Kia Rio support this, for example.
The Rio has an even longer warranty, at seven years.
Other light cars worth considering include the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent. You might also look at the Suzuki Ignis micro-SUV.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?
Yes – the Jazz VTi is our pick of the line-up. It is well equipped for the money. The VTi-S and VTi-L, although they offer appealing equipment, cost too much to be obviously worth the jump.
Are there plans to update the Jazz soon?
The current Honda Jazz arrived in the middle of 2014. Towards the end of 2016 the standard 7.0-inch touchscreen was replaced with a slightly smaller 6.1-inch unit, and in February 2017 alloy wheels were extended to the Jazz VTi.
From July 2017, Honda extended its warranty period to five years.
About September 2017 the Jazz received a light mid-life facelift, for the 2018 model year. A 7.0-inch central touchscreen was reinstated on all models, with USB and HDMI ports. The more expensive Jazz VTi-S and VTi-L gained built-in satellite navigation, and headlights on the VTi-L gained long-lived and very bright LEDs for both high and low beam. To keep costs down, the Jazz VTi-S lost its climate control, relying instead on manual air-conditioning. The least costly Jazz, the VTi, lost its alloy wheels, reverting to steel wheels with plastic covers and all-halogen headlights. Both the VTi-S and the VTi-L lost their gearshift paddles. Cosmetic changes inside and out extended to new bumpers front and rear on all cars, and revised alloy wheel designs.
Since then Honda has released special editions of the Jazz including +Sport and 50 Years Edition, celebrating Honda's half-century.
A new-generation 2021 Honda Jazz was revealed late in 2019 at the Tokyo Motor Show, there are doubts about if it will be sold in Australia.