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Jazz 1.4 ES i-Shift
4/10

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Road Test

Honda Jazz ES i-Shift

Driven August 2009

Additional Info

I-Shift, they call the Honda Jazz's ‘automatic' transmission. This is a misnomer. It doesn't. Shift, that is. Not very often, anyhow. And not very well at all.

It is, in short, utter pants. You're at the traffic lights. Light goes green. Pin the throttle. The little Jazz revs sweetly, up and into the VTEC. I-Shift decides to change up, because that's what automatic gearboxes do.

Accelerate, accelerate, and then... nothing. Complete loss of power. Your head jolts forwards towards the windscreen. Seemingly seconds and seconds of interminable nothingness as the i-Shift searches for the next gear - confound it, I'm sure I left it here somewhere - and then... clunk. Awkwardly, abruptly into gear, head thumped back into the headrest, up through the revs to do it all over again. Oh dear.

You learn to drive round it a bit, easing off the accelerator on changes, helping i-Shift as much as you can. You will feel sorry for i-Shift. But even if you take manual control of the shifts from the flappy paddles, it's still awful: too slow to change, useless at matching the revs, jerky to the point of nausea, despite being a clutchless manual rather than a full automatic. It's a similar set-up to the equally ponderous Smart ForTwo. Maybe a normal auto would work better.

The Honda Jazz is a great car, a 16-out-of-20 car. But look at the score above. That is how rubbish i-Shift is. Avoid.

Sam Philip

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