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The Top Gear car review: Honda Jazz

£11,640£20,190
6/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Bombproof and brilliantly designed inside

Against: 

It's the default for anyone over the age of 75
An absolutely peerless compact family car, but no fun if you’re after something with a bit of sporting spirit.

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Our choice

Honda

1.2 i-VTEC SE 5dr [Start Stop]

£13,340
N/A
54mpg
12.70s
90bhp
120g/km

What we say: 

Great for town driving and dirt cheap to run. No wonder it's the pensioners' car of choice

What is it?

A perennial hit with pink-rinsed pensioners, the Honda Jazz is perhaps the least exciting supermini on sale. Which is not to say it’s no good. Far from it, in fact. The Jazz is a truly inspired package, ingeniously designed, superbly made, endlessly practical and now, in its second iteration, even quite attractive to behold. It’s just not very exciting to drive, which is a fairly major Achilles heel in a segment full of nippy hatches. But if all you want is a rock-solid, reliable and flexible compact family car you’d be hard pushed to find anything better on the market.

Driving

Hmm. This really isn’t the Jazz’s strong suit. The second-generation cars have a greatly improved ride and level of general cabin refinement over the first, but it’s still a firm affair – as it is in almost all superminis, to be honest – making it not the best for the long haul. Partly this is down to the available engines in the Jazz, which tend towards small, fizzy petrols that are great around town but all too quickly run out of puff on the open road.

There’s no diesel option at all, which might be very off - putting in the UK these days, but there is at least a hybrid that’ll return 62mpg. That’s good, but not as good as the equivalent diesel Fiesta, and that’ll set you back a massive £3,500 less in the first place.

On the inside

This is where the Jazz does it different, and does it best. The interior design is clean and functional, clearly laid out to minimise fuss and impeccably screwed together. The instant impression is of a cabin built to last out a nuclear winter, or years at the sticky hands of a young family, with high-quality, hard-wearing materials everywhere and a refreshing absence of needless, gimmicky trim.

The Jazz also benefits from a clever rear seat design that folds flat in one simple motion, turning a generously proportioned passenger area into a genuinely huge, estate-rivalling loadspace. There’s nothing to knock in here. It’s truly top-notch.

Owning

It’s a point that gets laboured, but Hondas are traditionally exceptionally well made, and years of customer surveys rarely pull up any gripes. The Jazz should therefore be completely hassle free to own in that regard, and we’ve already waxed lyrical about how easy it is to live with in terms of that practical packaging.

With tiny engines and an inherent lack of sportiness, the Jazz is also cheap to insure, and the hybrid option should be a low-cost runner. Once you’ve forked out a fortune to buy it, that is.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.3 S 5dr
11.2s 116g/km 56.5 102
The cheapest
1.2 i-VTEC S 5dr [VSA]
12.5s 123g/km 53.3 90 £11,640
The greenest
1.3 IMA HE Hybrid 5dr CVT
12.1s 104g/km 62.8 102 £17,095

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

6/10

Kia Soul

£12,565£29,940
A Kia Soul is no more practical, but it does at least look a bit more interesting than the Jazz