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Honda Jazz 2018 review

Tardis on wheels: The Honda Jazz is far bigger inside than seems plausible
EXPERT RATING
7.1
Honda gave its Jazz range a little tweak in late 2017 to hand us the MY18 Honda Jazz. Some features were lost, and a few gained in an effort to keep up with the very fine Mazda2.

Honda's Jazz is like the little engine that could.

It occupies a shrinking part of the market but has seen off a bevy of once-were competitors (most notably the Hyundai i20) and continues to battle gamely with the Mazda2.

Honda gave the range a little tweak in late 2017 to hand us the MY18 Honda Jazz. Some features were lost, and a few gained in an effort to keep up with Mazda's finest.

Honda Jazz 2018: VTi
Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.8L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$14,950

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The Jazz range is made up of three models. As with any car, how much you get is dependent on how far up the price list you go. Honda occasionaly offers drive-away deals, but we're using RRP as a guide. We've done an exhaustive model comparison as well as snapshots to help you decide between the three trim levels - VTi, VTi-S and VTi-L.

Our American cousins score a Sport edition, but sadly we miss out on that one.

The VTi opens the price range at $14,990 for the five-speed manual, rising to $16,990 for the CVT auto. Standard features include a four-speaker stereo, air-conditioning, reverse camera, remote central locking, projector style halogen headlights, 15-inch steel wheels, cruise control power windows and mirrors, black cloth trim, trip computer and hill-start assist. 

The VTi-S and above score 16-inch alloys. The VTi-S and above score 16-inch alloys.

The inclusion of the reversing camera is good but the lack of rear parking sensors is mystifying, a problem shared with the VTi-S, although they are optional on both specifications.

While the spare tyre is a space-saver, it's better than a tyre-repair kit, should trouble strike. A small tool kit is also supplied for just such an occasion.

Even with the 2018 update, there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, although you can plug in your iPhone or Android device via the USB port. Irritatingly, the USB port is under a cover next to the 7.0-inch touchscreen itself, so you have a cable poking out of the dashboard. You might prefer Bluetooth in that case. 

Even with the 2018 update, there is no Apple CarPlay / Android Auto. Even with the 2018 update, there is no Apple CarPlay / Android Auto.

Step up to the CVT-only VTi-S ($19,990) and you pick up foglights, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, 'premium' cloth trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a centre console with storage box and GPS sat nav. 

There is no improvement to the multimedia system.

The VTi-L ($22,990) adds LED daytime running lights, climate control, navigation system (hooray!), smart key keyless entry, push-button start, leather seats, paddle shift for the CVT gearbox, an alarm, bi-LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, heated front seats and two extra speakers, 

Missing from the accessories list are a CD changer, DVD player, DAB or MP3, panoramic sunroof, sport pack, black pack, city pack, subwoofer, improved sound system, HID headlights, tonneau cover, roof rack, different rims and even  floor mats. 

You're stuck with the same infotainment head unit right across the range - its not even a radio/CD player arrangement, just radio and your phone. At least the VTi-L has more speakers for its sound system.

Dealers will no doubt sell you darker tinted windows and an extended warranty.

The Jazz is available in seven colours, with Rally Red the only freebie. For $495 you can have one of six shades of mettallic paint - Crystal Black, Brilliant Sporty Blue, Modern steel (gunmetal grey), Phoenix Orange, Lunar Silver and White Orchid. If you're after pink or yellow, you're out of luck. Not very Jazzy.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   6/10

The Jazz's exterior design is instantly recognisable. The shape has been roughly the same since the car's 2002 debut, with the mildest evolution over the years. The 2018 Jazz leads with the chin a bit, with a pronounced underbite and when fitted with a chrome grille, it looks a bit like the giant Jaws from James Bond after whacking his head.

The shape has been roughly the same since the car's 2002 debut, with the mildest evolution over the years. The shape has been roughly the same since the car's 2002 debut, with the mildest evolution over the years.

Apart from that, the slimmed headlights and one-box body shape are almost entirely inoffensive, save for the chunky, stacked rear lights.

When you head inside it's a simple, basic interior. Well put together, it's easy to find your way around and, because there isn't much happening in here, it's unlikely you'll need the owner's manual, unless you want to identify and use every single deployment of the excellent Magic Seats in the back.

The interior is simple, basic, and well put together. The interior is simple, basic, and well put together.

As you climb the range, you'll start to see body-kit additions like a rear spoiler and side skirts, but nothing particularly racy.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

The interior is full of cleverness packed into a small space. The centre console has two cup holders, a space for your phone and a compartmentalised open tray reachable by both front and rear-seat passengers. A third cupholder folds out of the dash on the driver's side. The back seat doesn't have any cupholders, unfortunately, and nor is there a centre armrest.

Legroom is impressive for a car this size. Legroom is impressive for a car this size.

Rear legroom is impressive for such a small car - it's no wonder the HR-V compact SUV was spun off the Jazz platform. Added to that are the excellent 'Magic Seats', which fold in a variety of ways to increase the boot space dimensions from 354 litres to 1314 litres.

The capacity can expand all the way from 354 litres to 1314 litres. The capacity can expand all the way from 354 litres to 1314 litres.

Luggage capacity is not bad for such a small car and with the flexible interior, the boot size goes up by four times in volume. This is one area in which it really does outdo the  Mazda2. The removable cargo cover means you can get a decent chest of drawers in, however there's a bit of a drop once you get things over the loading lip.

The 'magic seats' can also fold out of the way to turn the back seating area into a luggage area. The 'magic seats' can also fold out of the way to turn the back seating area into a luggage area.

You can also fold the seat bases up and out of the way to provide space for shrubbery, or a dog, or an awkward flat pack. 

The basic VTi misses out on a bit of storage, namely the centre console storage box and driver's side seatback pocket, but the rest of the range has them both.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

All Jazzes are powered by Honda's 1.5-litre single-cam four-cylinder. The engine specs don't make for inspiring reading, with just 88kW and 145Nm. That's not a lot of horsepower, but when you consider the weight of the car, the figures don't look so weedy.

The only engine on offer is a 1.5-litre producing 88kW/145Nm. The only engine on offer is a 1.5-litre producing 88kW/145Nm.

Power goes to the front wheels, so the Jazz is definitely not an off-road proposition.

Only the base model VTi has a choice of manual vs automatic, with a five-speed manual transmission and a CVT auto to choose from.

As to the question of timing belt or chain, the Jazz has the latter, so you don't have to worry about a belt change. The oil type is 5W-30

There is no diesel option, so there'll be no diesel vs petrol argument. Nor is there an EV or plug-in hybrid - with a battery, it's unlikely you'd have much boot space left. There isn't an LPG, 4x4, or AWD version either.

If you can be bothered fitting a towbar, the manual's towing capacity is 1000kg braked while the CVT's load capacity drops to 850kg. Both transmissions will haul 450kg unbraked.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Fuel figures are slightly different, depending on the gearbox you've chosen. Honda claims you'll get 6.5L/100km on the combined cycle in a manual while the CVT uses a bit less, coming in at 5.9L/100km. So fuel consumption km/L works out at about 15km/L for the five speed and 17.km/L in the CVT.

Real-world consumption is a little different, however. Our most recent test with the manual yielded 8.0L/100km while the CVT chugged down 8.2L/100km. Having said that, you'll see better fuel economy figures in the manual if, as I admitted in my VTi review, you don't drive it enthusiastically. The CVT was a bit disappointing because I was a lot more sedate in that one and it didn't deliver better mileage than the manual.

Fuel-tank capacity is 40 litres.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The Jazz has always been a comfortable, easygoing car with performance figures to match. Its 0-100km/h acceleration is best described as leisurely, so if it's speed your after, this car isn't for you.

That said, the manual VTi is terrific fun to drive. Switch to the CVT, however, and the Jazz's reputation is restored. A good ride for front-seat passengers comes from McPherson struts up front while the rear suspension is by torsion beams, meaning rear-seat occupants can get a few shocks over bumps.

Road noise is a little higher than you might expect, but that's probably a combination of tyres and a commitment to lightness.

Obviously, being such a small car, manouverability is a key advantage. The turning radius is 5.2m, which is good but not super tight and the light, electric power steering makes dodging about easy. It certainly doesn't feel like it's on rails, but that's hardly what a car with a such a small engine size is about.

Ground clearance is 137mm, which is reasonable but jumping gutters is not advised.

In the base manual, you have a five-speed with a light clutch and an easy shift. For a motor missing out on a second cam, let alone a turbo, progress is swift rather than exciting, the engine droning away with a relaxed air. The CVT has an eco mode, which further blunts performance, but a ring of light around speedo glows green if you're behaving yourself.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The safety specifications include six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, brake assist and brake-force distribution. The Jazz was awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating in January 2015.

Baby car seat security is offered with either three top-tether anchors but there are no ISOFIX points.

Missing is the more comprehensive safety equipment of its key rival, the Mazda2, which has forward AEB as standard, and its mid-range adds reverse AEB and at the top of the range scores reverse cross traffic alert and blind -spot monitoring. The airbag count is competitive, however.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Honda's standard five year/unlimited kilometre warranty also comes with capped-price servicing for the first five years or 10 services, whichever comes first. Service intervals are every 10,000km or six months. 

Up to 30,000km you won't have any extras but once you hit 40,000km you'll have to do the brake fluid, which is a reaonable $144 extra. Your service cost structure is otherwise simple - $259 for odd numbers and $297 for even.

Many people ask where the Honda Jazz is built, and the answer to that is "not Japan", or in Honda's Thailand plant.

Second-hand values appear strong, with around 60 percent of value retained after three years. Resale value is something of a Honda strength, which is probably to do with a lack of high-profile reliability issues.

A dip into the usual internet forums yields little in the way of common faults, problems, complaints or issues for the Jazz. Some look for automatic transmission problems, others for manual gearbox problems, but the current Jazz seems quite clear of defects in Australian-delivered cars.

Verdict

The Honda Jazz is an extremely capable small car, with an ace card of virtually unbeatable interior space. While it's hardly an excitement machine, or the best looking or equipped in its class (it is missing out on some useful safety gear), the Jazz deserves its status as a well-loved hatchback.

The best in the range is probably the VTi. There isn't anything compelling further up the variants unless you're keen on bigger wheels or leather trim. Its entry-level offering is a good-value, sturdy car that is packed with its best qualities, no matter which one you buy.

Does the Honda Jazz stack up for you? Or do offerings from Hyundai, Mazda and Kia get your bargain-hunting senses tingling?

Pricing Guides

$16,990
Based on 63 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$14,490
Highest Price
$22,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
+SPORT (2WD) 1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $19,490 – 19,990 2018 HONDA JAZZ 2018 +SPORT (2WD) Pricing and Specs
VTi 1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $14,950 – 17,990 2018 HONDA JAZZ 2018 VTi Pricing and Specs
VTi-L 1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $21,888 – 22,990 2018 HONDA JAZZ 2018 VTi-L Pricing and Specs
VTi-S 1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $17,980 – 19,987 2018 HONDA JAZZ 2018 VTi-S Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.1
Price and features7
Design6
Practicality9
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving7
Safety7
Ownership7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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