Used Honda Jazz review: 2002-2014
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Jazz is the smallest Honda model sold in Australia. Launched here in October 2002, the latest edition Jazz was introduced in 2014. It has caused quite a few of the older models to be traded in, so there may be some bargains as dealers work to shift the trade-ins from their yards.
To keep the price down the Jazz is built in Thailand. We have visited Honda's Thai plant and can attest to Honda's emphasis on quality control.
Honda Jazz has a high roofline to maximise interior space in what is a relatively small body
Handling of the little Honda is good if roads are reasonably smooth, but it can be bounced about on bumps. On surfaces that suit it, the Jazz turns in easily, is happy to change direction in corners and is generally well set up for everyday driving. Enthusiastic drivers may find it a little lacking in steering precision.
Honda Jazz has a high roofline to maximise interior space in what is a relatively small body. It can seat four adults without too much compromising on legroom. In Australia it's more likely to carry one or two people, but we've spoken to families with young children, who say their Jazz meets their needs and are more than impressed with the car.
The Jazz has one of the best folding rear seat designs of them all
There's reasonably easy entry to the back seat, but some may find the rear door opening is a little tight in the original 2002 model. Those sold from the new model of August 2008 are much better.
The Jazz, indeed many Hondas, has one of the best folding rear seat designs of them all. The seat slides backwards and forwards to let you juggle between people and/or luggage. Even better, it can be folded in a few seconds to create a very large luggage area. The front passenger seat backrest can be reclined all the way down to let you carry long loads extending from the dashboard to the rear window.
August 2008 saw the introduction of the second generation Jazz. It kept the same general styling theme as the gen-one, but is larger overall and sits on a longer wheelbase. The result is significantly more room inside, particularly in the rear area of the cabin. Boot space increased and the 60/40 split rear seats can be folded flat without having to slide the front seats a few notches forward as in the original model.
At the same time the body was more rigid to improve NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) entry into the cabin.
Honda Jazz comes with a 1.3- or 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine. Though the engine sizes remained in the second-generation Jazz, they were an all-new design. Power and torque were increased, yet fuel consumption and exhaust emissions came down. The torque graph was stretched to give more grunt at the bottom end of the rev range.
The gen-one Jazz has a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The 1.5 CVT comes with a sports mode offering seven preset gear ratios, it's controlled though steering wheel paddles. The 1.3-litre engine runs purely as an automatic.
Controversially, Honda decided to go back to a conventional torque-converter automatic transmission in the gen-two Jazz, saying some drivers didn't like the characteristics of the CVT.
While the Jazz is reasonably easy for the amateur mechanic to work on, there is some under-bonnet crowding that's inevitable on a car of this size. Keep a workshop manual at your side and don't attempt any safety related work unless you're qualified to do so.
If you want a Honda Jazz with a larger boot you can choose the Honda City
The Honda Australia dealer network is widespread in the heavily populated areas, but isn't all that established in remote areas. We seldom hear of any real hassles with getting hold of spare parts, but if you are concerned about this it may be smart to make local enquiries before falling too deeply in love with one of these cute little models. Spare parts prices for Hondas are more reasonable now than they have been in the past.
Insurance costs for Honda Jazz generally sit in the mid-range of the field. There doesn't appear to be any real differentiation between companies on premium charges. It's always wise to spend some time shopping around for the best deal, though.
If you want a Honda Jazz with a larger boot you can choose the Honda City, a Jazz with a four-door sedan rear end.
What to look for
Check that the engine starts easily and responds quickly and positively to the throttle, even when it's completely cold.
A continuously variable transmission should react quickly to changes in throttle position and road conditions. As a CVT sounds and feels different to conventional automatics, have an expert drive it if you are not confident it's working correctly.
Make sure the brakes stop the car without any pulling to one side and that no one wheel locks while the others are still turning.
It makes a lot of sense to get a professional inspection after carrying out initial checks
Look over the interior to make sure it hasn't suffered at the hands of uncaring owners, especially bored young kids.
Bodywork should be undamaged and free from rust. Corrosion is not common unless the car has been poorly repaired after a smash.
As always, it makes a lot of sense to get a professional inspection after carrying out initial checks to the best of your ability.
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