Vehicle Style: 5-door light hatch
Price: $22,490 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 88kW/145Nm 1.5 petrol 4cyl | CVT auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.8 l/100km | tested: 6.8 l/100km
Honda’s light Jazz is now in its third generation. And, right from the start, it has always had a particular claim to fame: a marvelously flexible interior.
That clever interior remains in this model, but isn’t the only strength the Jazz possesses.
Besides a new suit of clothes, there’s a more frugal CVT automatic, touchscreen interior interface, and handling that outperforms its tall and narrow looks.
At the top of the range, the VTi-L model we test here packs in plenty of features, but at $22,490 it is a long way from the headline-grabbing $14,990 opening price.
So, despite the pricing impost, does the upscale Jazz provide worthy motoring? TMR pressed the smart VTi-L into duty to see how well it stands on its merits.
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift with partial leather seat trim.
- Heated front seats.
- Reverse camera with parking sensors.
- ‘Magic’ flat-folding rear seats.
- Centre armrest.
- Display Audio (allowing navigation with a connected iPhone) with six speakers, plus Bluetooth.
- Proximity key and push-button start.
The Jazz features an interior designed for life. With the whole interior designed around the spectacular Magic Seat concept.
That means a rear bench that folds perfectly flat in a single action; or, for tall storage, seat squabs can be locked against the backrest for floor-to-ceiling cartage.
It’s a brilliant, truly useful interior - you can even pull the front headrests out, lay the seatbacks down and create a massive loungeroom on wheels. Perfect for the drive-in, or a night in the doghouse.
The dash features mostly hard plastics, but a soft-touch facia panel with faux stitching and silver trim highlights looks first class.
Plastics are well-finished and the whole fitout is free of squeaks and rattles. The infotainment screen is big and clear, but can be slow to react to inputs.
Below that, the touchscreen climate controls look swish but can’t be navigated by feel, making it necessary to divert your eyes from the road.
With a tall glasshouse and upright seating, the Jazz feels almost SUV-like at the helm. It offers commanding views of the road ahead and an airy and spacious feel.
Taller driver’s will find rearward seat travel limited, and the seats are firm and flat - but they’re easy to swing in and out of with a high hip point set just right for people-loading.
In the rear the backrest can be reclined a few extra degrees, but it is still fairly firm and upright.
That said, there’s more head and legroom than most will fill, making it easy to settle into.
ON THE ROAD
- 88kW/145Nm 1.5 litre petrol inline four
- CVT automatic with paddle shifters and 7 pre-set ‘gears’, front-wheel-drive
- MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear suspension..
- 16-inch alloy wheels.
- LED headlamps
The 1.5 litre petrol engine in the Jazz carries over from the previous generation. With 88kW and 145Nm the outputs fall within the class average.
There are set ratios accessible via steering-wheel-paddles if you’re feeling spirited, and they work well.
Step-off from a standing start feels strong, but in normal or eco modes things are a little duller with plenty of droning under part throttle acceleration.
Getting a sensation of speed out of the midrange means engaging in a throttle-war with the economy-focused transmission.
Ride-comfort is a great match to city bump-and-grind, easily able to iron out speed humps, train tracks, and manhole covers without nervousness or discomfort.
In a higher speed setting, the Jazz still feels secure but is a little firmer over small bumps.
Despite a relatively tall body, the Jazz maintains a level stance when cornering. There’s a little roll, but none of the roll or lurch you might expect.
Steering is light and easy to use, twirling into tight car parks presents no challenge (and is aided by a reverse camera and rear park sensors).
Head for the open road and the Jazz will demand you work it a little harder to squeeze the best from it, particularly in the hills or for overtaking. On a steady cruise it is more capable.
Road and wind noise are well managed, with just a hint of engine buzz creeping in at freeway speeds.
ANCAP rating: The 2015 Honda Jazz has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, three-point seatbelts and six airbags (front, front side, full-length curtain) are standard on every Jazz.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
When it comes to exploitation of space, the Jazz rules the roost. But there’s no shortage of choices among compact hatches at the moment. Other well-specced options might include:
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Is Honda’s newest Jazz good? Undoubtedly, yes - but where we can heartily endorse the base model VTi on the basis of its value, the much costlier VTi-L doesn’t fare quite so well.
It is nonetheless a brilliantly-conceived car. Clearly built to couple the largest interior within the smallest footprint, you can carry a load within that defies its external measurements (even if it isn’t as ‘dimensionally transcendental’ as the famed Doctor Who's police box).
Engine and drivetrain are happily matched, set up for a lifetime of commuter duty and go about things with minimal complaint.
But, although its nice to have the extra features and quality on offer in the VTI-L, you’ll have to convince yourself of the extra spend.
Ultimately the VTi and VTi-S are better buying value; nonetheless, the top-line VTi-L remains a very competent and appealing car.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- VTi manual - $14,990
- VTi CVT - $16,990
- VTi-S CVT - $19,790
- VTi-L CVT - $22,490
MORE: 2014 Honda Jazz Revealed