AS the global car market shifts its focus to fuel efficiency, we are now seeing bigger cars with engines that produce fuel consumption figures similar to that of light city vehicles, such as the 2017 Honda Jazz VTi.
Improvements in vehicle performance and petrol consumption means buyers are steering away from light passenger vehicles and into the small car and baby SUV market. But what does that mean for the all-new Honda Jazz?
The Thai-built 2017 Honda Jazz still comes with the same three grades as it did in the past; the VTi, VTi-S, and the range-topping VTi-L – with the manual transmission option only available in the VTi (our Brilliant Sporty Blue test vehicle).
So if you’re happy to change gears yourself, you can get your backside into a Jazz for just $14,990. There aren’t many cars cheaper than that, and there are fewer still that are worth buying, and none that come with the solid engineering the Honda has.
All models come with the same 88kW, 145Nm 1.5-litre petrol engine with 0-100km/h numbers coming in just shy of 9 seconds. Honda claims a figure of of 5.3L/100km, however we got an indicated 8.0L/100km.
This shouldn’t bother you as we really gave it some stick because the manual was just so much fun to drive, and some more responsible and careful driving will see better results.
Incidentally, 8.0L/100km is very close to the claimed urban figure, which is where this car spent most of its time. It’s here though that we see the first downside to the sporty little Jazz.
Due to the short ratio gearbox and only five gears, the little engine screams at around 3,500rpm at 110km/h, which will see the fuel consumption start to climb dramatically, and means the Jazz is not ideal for long haul highway driving at high speeds.
We’re really surprised Honda hasn’t gone down a 6-speed manual path or adopted a turbo, which is now seen as standard fare in many competitors within this market space.
Inside the 2017 Honda Jazz VTi, the view outside is great – does that make sense? The fact is the view from inside the Jazz, looking out to everywhere is terrific. It almost feels like it’s more glass than metal, but not in a way that makes you feel unsafe.
Like its HR-V twin under the skin, the windscreen is gigantic, but the Jazz also has those little three quarter windows over the front wheels.
Allied with its size, it’s an absurdly easy car to manoeuvre. The ride is quite impressive, at least for front seat passengers. Rear passengers won’t be so happy with the torsion beams banging over speed humps.
Body roll isn’t a concern, but nor is it flat through the turns. It’s the sort of car you lean into, and it’s a noisy thing, too. The engine is quite gravelly and there’s a fair bit of road noise in the cabin.
On smooth surfaces there’s also a bit of wind noise, so a long trip may become annoying for you, as we were definitely bothered by it.
That said, even though the engine is pretty vocal, the controls are light, from clutch to gear throw, with steering that’s just right to keep up with the limited grip from the front wheels.
The line up is fairly straight forward, with just the one five door hatch configuration available. The outside of the package struts a quirky and active design. The roof line is quite high to make for some brilliant space and practicality inside.
We know it’s difficult to make a car of these proportions look sporty, but Honda has done a decent job at keeping the almost van like boxy shape modern and relevant. The 15-inch alloy wheels help here too. The spare is a space saver though.
Inside, things are fairly tame, with dark grey plastics that are lifted by brushed aluminium look trim around the dashboard-mounted air vents. It’s not bang up to date like the other Honda variants, but it’s perfectly inoffensive.
In fact, it feels like a more expensive car, although that is getting harder to say these days, with other manufacturers opting for plush interiors for similar money.
The modest interior includes cruise control, a four speaker stereo with Bluetooth and USB, air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, reversing camera, remote central locking, LED headlights, and rear parking sensors with dash display.
The four speaker stereo is tinny but otherwise fine. The small touchscreen is reasonably snappy but the underlying software looks really old. Much like its compatriots, Honda’s head unit looks like an off the shelf job, with the USB port hidden under an ugly cover. It’s a bit low rent in an otherwise excellent cabin.
The space inside the Jazz is extraordinary for such a small car. Back seat passengers in its immediate competition, the Mazda2 and Hyundai Accent, could only dream of the kind of leg room enjoyed in the Honda.
The interior is full of clever details, packed into a small space. The centre console holds two cup holders, a tray for your phone and an open tray reachable by both front and rear seat passengers.
A third cup holder folds out of the dash on the driver’s side, but unfortunately the back seats don’t have any cup holders, which is a bit odd.
The rear seats split 60/40, and collapse to a completely flat state. But you can also flip the bottom of the seats upwards to make a huge amount of low loading space on the back seat floor.
This is a brilliant and unique idea that adds a huge level of practicality and versatility not seen among any of the competition. You’d be surprised how much you can now fit in on those essential weekend hiking trips.
So if you’re in the market for one of the cheapest run about cars you can buy, we think the 2017 Honda Jazz VTi is up there as one of the best options on offer.
In our opinion, the Jazz is best suited to customers who aren’t too worried about style and sportiness, or market leading technologies. It’s best suited to someone looking for something user friendly and practical for a busy city lifestyle.
The Honda Jazz is available in Phoenix Orange (Pearlescent), Rally Red, Brilliant Sporty Blue (Metallic), Modern Steel (Metallic), Silver (Metallic), White Orchid (Pearlescent) and Crystal Black (Pearlescent).
It’s worth noting that if you want any exterior colour other than red, you need to pay an additional $495, as all other colours use metallic or pearl paint.
Our 2017 Honda Jazz VTi was provided by Honda Australia. To find out more, visit your local Honda dealer.
Road Test: 2017 Honda Jazz VTi
Pros – great interior space for a small car; perfect for city lifestyle; standard features for base model.
Cons – wind noise; no sixth gear; tacky infotainment system.