Since the Honda Jazz was launched way back in 2001, the automaker has sold more than 7 million models worldwide. Despite its popularity, it is not until you drive one that you begin to notice them everywhere, driven mainly by an older generation. It does not – and must not – set pulses racing. It's a safe, no-nonsense choice. Continuing just-auto/QUBE's review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside this B-segment hatchback.
Cavernous interior with a touch of 'magic'
The third generation of Jazz, also known as the 'Fit' in some markets, has more space and technology than its predecessor. The four-metre long model incorporates a centre-mounted fuel tank to allow for some clever seat packaging solutions. Honda's so-called 'magic' seats fold and collapse into a range of configurations for carrying passengers and stuff. We have seen this same arrangement on other Honda models for quite a while but it's still impressive.
The 60/40 split rear seats can adopt configurations across four modes, namely:
- Utility mode – the rear seat back folds forward as the seat base itself lowers into the rear passenger footwell, creating a 1,505 mm-long flat floor (80 mm longer than in the previous generation Jazz).
- Tall mode – the front of the rear seat base rises up and back and is locked in a vertical position to leave a cargo height of 1,280 mm from floor to ceiling, allowing tall objects to be placed behind the front seats.
- Long mode – the front passenger seat back folds back to a horizontal position, while the rear seat back folds forward, forming a 'tunnel' to accommodate items up to 2,480 mm long (+80 mm).
- Refresh mode – the front seat back reclines to a flat position meeting the rear seat base to create a 1,580 mm-long 'couch' (+80 mm), enabling occupants to sit in the rear and literally put their feet up after a long journey.
Overall, Jazz is a spot longer than its predecessor by 95 mm on the outside and with a 30 mm longer wheelbase. Compared to Mk2, the current model gives front occupants an extra 30 mm of shoulder room, while moving them 20 mm further apart. Rear passengers can enjoy 115 mm more leg room, 65 mm more knee room and 20 mm additional shoulder room. In other words, it seats four tall adults comfortably. We seldom come across a more specious supermini.
The steering wheel has an additional 10 mm of reach adjustment, while the driver's seat travel is increased by 36.4 mm. Further back, boot space has been increased by 17 litres to 354 litres with the rear seats in use and by 14 litres to 897 litres with the rear seats down.
Storage-wise, there are plenty of cubby holes dotted around the cabin with two cup holders in the front centre console ahead of the gear lever and a third on the dash beside the steering wheel. The centre box beneath the front arm rest is large enough to accommodate a tablet device.
The top-half of the cabin is swathed in soft-touch materials and interior design detail to provide an upmarket ambience and je ne sais quoi. The bottom half (down at leg and knee height) has the usual scratchy yet durable plastics. The dash itself is wrapped in black soft-touch material with detailing, contrasting the upholstery materials and polished chrome trim accents.
The instrument cluster incorporates three dials, each of which is encircled with 'floating' illumination rings. A neat feature is Honda's ECO Assist function that changes the backlight colour of the speedometer from white to green during fuel-efficient driving.
Steering wheel mounted controls enable the driver to switch between various information views on an LCD display on the instrument cluster. Here, the usual trip data is displayed such as fuel economy, range and journey time. Interruption alerts are displayed when some of the advanced active safety systems have been triggered.
Base models are equipped with air-con as standard. The centre stack features a five-inch LCD audio display to help control the audio system piped through the 180-watt four-speakers. Mid-grade models are fitted with a seven-inch Honda Connect infotainment touchscreen and steering wheel mounted audio controls. Upper grade models get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and push-button engine start/stop, and touchpanel controls for the automatic air-con. The top-spec grade is distinguished by a premium seat fabrics pattern, lashings of extra applications of soft-touch materials hither and thither and touches of chrome accents dotted around the cabin.
Positioned centre stage of the dash is a seven-inch touchscreen, incorporating the automaker's infotainment system, known as Honda Connect. This has an app-based user interface with the usual pinch, swipe and tap functionality. Running on Android, it gives access to internet-based services such as web browsing, real-time traffic information, news and weather, social media, and internet music stations.
A number of pre-installed apps are also available, including the 'Aha' app that allows access to thousands of audio stations – spanning music, news, podcasts and audio books –along with social media feeds and location-based services.
The touchscreen displays all the usual vehicle information – such as trip information, fuel economy and journey time. It allows synchronisation with your smartphone and other personal multimedia devices: wifi, bluetooth, HDMI, and MirrorLink – which 'mirrors' the screen of a connected device, allowing operation through the touchscreen.
Available as standard on upper grade models is a Garmin sat-nav which works a treat.
The system also features real-time traffic avoidance, speed limit warnings, lane guidance, sign-view, 3D building and terrain views, and Eco Routing.
The upper grade models of the new Jazz boast a rear-view safety camera, offering three modes: Normal view, Wide view and Top down view, with the image shown on the dash centre screen.
Advanced driver assistance systems
Every Jazz comes with a number of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), including city-brake active (to help avoid low-speed accidents), forward collision warning (detects the risk of collision by recognising the vehicle ahead, using a camera), traffic sign recognition system (does what it says on the tin), intelligent speed limiter (combines two otherwise independent safety systems – adjustable speed limiter and traffic sign recognition system), lane departure warning (increasingly common across the segment) and high-beam support system (which is surprisingly quick at adjusting the headlight beam).
On the road
There are four trim levels: S, SE, EX and Sport. Our press review facelifted Sport model was finished in a dazzling 'skyride' blue with red accents on the bumpers inspired by the Civic Type-R and glossy black 16-inch wheels. It is powered by a 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine added to the range last year as part of the facelift. Although there is no turbocharger like on some of its rivals, it still feels nippy on the open road and nimble about town. On the flipside, the Honda Jazz Sport, despite its name is not a hot hatch and quite noisy on an open stretch. While our road test didn't match Honda's headline fuel economy of 47.9 mpg, we weren't far off (45.4 mpg to be precise). All in all, it felt spacious, practical and comfortable, even on long journeys once you get into it. So its redeeming features are therefore a perfect match for Honda's loyal customer base. Time will tell if this facelifted sporty Jazz with a more powerful engine will appeal to a younger audience.