Original high-rise supermini is an Auto Express favourite and still hard to fault.
On the road price: £11,990 - £15,770
For: Build, great practicality, fine engines, superb on-road manners
Against: Pricey servicing, dull looks of the base car, no diesel
Both 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre engines have the same refined and pleasant nature, and feature identical i-DSI (Dual-Sequential Ignition system) technology, offering excellent economy and emissions. Throttle response is sharp yet they're refined units mated to precise controls. The clutch is well — weighted and the five-speed gearbox so slick, you can do it with two fingers. Direct steering and keen turn-in are betrayed by a ride that can become choppy on bumpy roads; but generally, the Jazz is a joy to drive. It's one of the sharpest cars in the supermini sector, up there with the Ford Fiesta.
It's easy to find the Jazz for you — the range consists of only three cars! All petrol-engined motors, the 1.2 S is the budget entry-level model, which is great value but lacks remote locking, curtain and side airbags, while air con is a pricy £1,500 option. It also misses out on the reworked headlights and minor trim changes of 1.4-litre SE and Sport models (which are available with optional CVT automatic transmission). These variants cost more but come with more as standard, though their performance advantage isn't huge — there's only 5bhp difference between the two engines. All models enjoy a high-quality cabin with dimpled plastics and spot-on layout, along with a very good driving position and visibility spoiled only by steeply—raked A—pillars. The single five-door bodystyle is one of the biggest superminis you can buy, but Honda has no plans to mate this practicality to diesel power. Such choice restrictions haven't harmed sales though; the Jazz is a strong selling supermini in the UK.
The Jazz sells on flexibility — enhanced by its 'Magic' rear seat. By relocating the fuel tank to beneath the front seats, engineers have freed up room beneath the back chairs. Pull a single lever and they fold flat, or you can lift the base up, cinema-style, for extra space accessed via the rear doors. The boot itself is a huge 353 litres, bigger than a Vauxhall Astra. Fuel economy is excellent, with the 1.4-litre approaching and the 1.2-litre exceeding 50mpg, and service intervals are 12,500 miles. Be warned though — the high-tech engine makes pitstops expensive. But insurance ratings are low and retained values among the highest of any small car you can buy. A four-star Euro-NCAP result and meagre airbag count isn't up with the best, though."