2011 HONDA JAZZ REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Light hatchback
Price: $16,990 ($17,385 as-tested)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 5.8 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 6.2 l/100km
Thanks to a range of specification upgrades - most notably the addition of critical safety features - the 2011 Honda Jazz now has the right stuff to compete on even terms in the light car market.
The Jazz GLi we tested is the entry point into the range. With just 1.3 litres underfoot, and modest torque, it is no powerhouse.
But, with Honda’s typically sharp on-road dynamics, a versatile and spacious interior and excellent build quality to balance the equation, it has a lot of appeal.
Quality: General fit and finish is good, and the cloth trim on the door cards make the hard plastics easier to live with. All switchgear felt solid and we heard no creaks nor rattles from the Jazz’s interior while in our care.
Comfort: The cloth-upholstered front seats are comfortable and give good upper body support, but the squabs are a little flat.
Despite the Jazz’s small size, the upright seating position in the back creates an abundance of legroom. The high roof means headroom is rarely an issue, but squeezing three people across the rear bench may be a challenge.
Equipment: The GLi is the base model in the Jazz range, and is equipped with air conditioning, a trip computer, an MP3-compatible stereo with USB input, Bluetooth phone integration and front and rear power windows.
Steering wheel mounted audio controls are notably absent - a feature that is fast becoming standard on many other light cars around this price point.
Storage: It might be pint-sized, but the Jazz excels as a load carrier. The rear seat articulates down when the backrest is folded, resulting in a flat and low boot floor that can accommodate everything from surfboards (with the front seat backrest folded) to a small washing machine.
Seats up, there’s 337 litres of space. Seats folded, theres 848 litres up to the window line, and plenty more above.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The Jazz GLi’s main weakness is its 1.3 litre in-line four, which, with 73kW and just 127Nm of torque, feels a bit overwhelmed by the task.
It needs plenty of revs to keep up with fast-moving traffic and highway overtaking requires planning and a good run-up.
The more powerful 88kW/145Nm 1.5 litre four in the Jazz VTi is considerably more lively.
The five-speed manual transmission has a light clutch and slick shifter. While it is adequate, we feel it would be helped by an extra ratio to keep the engine in its sweet spot.
Refinement: Despite the relative lack of sound deadening (a common feature of most light cars), the Jazz is reasonably quiet. The engine however does sound rather buzzy when worked hard and harsh bumps can result in some crashing and thumping making their way into the cabin.
Suspension: The Jazz has good compliance over rough ground and decent grip. The steering is light and responsive too. Its 10.4 metre turning circle isn’t the best in the class, but still tight and handy around town.
Braking: The brake pedal can be a little sensitive, but braking performance is good in all conditions, wet or dry.
ANCAP rating: 5 stars
Safety features: Standard on the Jazz GLi are dual front and front side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, ABS with brake assist, stability control and traction control. Every seat is equipped with a three-point seatbelt.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 5 years/140,000km
Service costs: Servicing costs vary, consult your local dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Nissan Micra Ti ($16,990) - For the same money as the base-model Jazz GLi, you can get the range-topping Micra Ti.
The Micra has plenty of gadgets like a proximity key, push-button starter, climate control and reverse parking sensors, as well as a slightly torquier 75kW/136Nm 1.5 litre engine. On the downside, its interior isn’t as versatile as the Jazz. (see Micra reviews)
Hyundai i20 Active 5 door ($16,490) - The i20 delivers decent value for money, but the interior lacks the refinement of the Honda. Its 1.4 litre engine matches the power of the Honda but benefits from an extra 9Nm of torque. (see i20 reviews)
Ford Fiesta CL hatch ($16,990) - The interior of 2011 Fiesta CL falls short of the Jazz for feel (a production shift to Thailand saw soft-touch dash plastics dumped in favour of harder materials).
However, its powerful 89kW/151Nm 1.6 litre engine and excellent chassis set-up means it’s an absolute delight to drive. (see Fiesta reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The safety-spec upgrades to the Honda Jazz have made it a far more competitive offering.
It’s a nice car to drive, sips fuel like it hates the stuff, and its capacious and versatile load space is handy for the occasional trip to the hardware store.
The question though - in such a tight and competitive segment - is whether you would rather a base-grade Jazz or a fully-featured Micra for the same money. It’s a tough call.