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UPDATE: Model-year 2017 examples of the Jazz now feature an updated infotainment system, beyond the system reviewed here. (Honda had failed to alert media, slipping the update in under the radar.) See the bottom of this review for details.
As we mentioned in our initial piece on our greenish-yellow 2016 Honda Jazz VTi-S, the little hatchback is in for a different approach for this series of long-term updates. With this one, we’re taking a deeper dive into its infotainment system.
No matter which variant of the Honda Jazz you buy – whether it’s the $14,990 (plus on-road costs) VTi manual or the high-spec VTi-L (from $22,490 plus on-roads) – there’s a 7.0-inch touchscreen with the requisite Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.
The flat panel screen is surrounded by piano black trim, and as a result it can mark quite easily from fingerprints. The screen itself isn’t as bright or crisp to look at as many competitor screens, with a bit of a sheen to it.
It is quite pixelated and doesn’t look the most modern screen, but its better than what you get in a Toyota Yaris. It isn’t as good as that in a Volkswagen Polo or Skoda Fabia, and nor does it have the latest phone connectivity – Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. If you’re a serious technophile, that omission could be enough for you to shop elsewhere.
Another thing with the Honda system is that there are no hard buttons on the sides to get between menus. That can be a bit of a pain if you’re trying to jostle between menus on the move, because as we know it’s easier to touch a physical button than it is to balance your finger to touch one on a flat, non-responsive surface.
There’s a home screen button on the right that takes you to the main menu, but getting around from there, the location of the buttons to switch between spots can be a little frustrating. The screen can get dusty, too:
The system isn't ultra quick to load, and we had some issues with the radio reception being fuzzy on the limits of the city, and finding the stations list proved a pain for the uninitiated. At least you can change the colour of the background..?
If you prefer your own tunes, the Bluetooth audio streaming worked without issue during our time with the car. No glitches when playing back, and the sound quality was judged to be pretty good, too.
There is a pair of USB inputs to playback or charge your devices, and an auxiliary jack and a HDMI input.
The Bluetooth phone connectivity also worked a treat, connecting and reconnecting quickly.
The display doubles as a monitor for the standard rear-view camera, and further to that there are three angles you can choose from to help you when you’re parking:
The Honda’s infotainment is decent, fine by class standards but if you spend a lot of time in your car, and you want the best infotainment in this segment, there are better options.
UPDATE: Honda Australia has advised that MY17 versions of the Honda Jazz are fitted with a new infotainment system, which includes a few hard buttons on the side of the panel.
This system also sees a slightly smaller screen layout - 6.1-inch as opposed to the 7.0-inch unit in the 2016 models. See the image below:
We haven't yet sampled the usability of the system, but already the USB and HDMI input positioning seems like it could be irksome, and it still lacks the latest connectivity as part of the "upgrade", meaning no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
And with the new screen, there remains no dial for volume, and there's no controller on the screen anymore, either - meaning the driver is in control of the volume at all times using the buttons on the steering wheel.
The new 6.1-inch system is fitted to all variants of the 2017 Honda Jazz range.
The Mazda 2 - with the brand’s MZD Connect rotary dial, only in the higher-spec models - remains our fave audio system in the light car class despite lacking Apple CarPlay, and it is followed by the touchscreens of the Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo which have the latest connectivity.