I purchased my 2006 Honda Jazz VTi in 2017 with 185,000kms on the clock, looking for something cheap, economical, zippy and reliable. To my delight, the Jazz has exceeded in fulfilling these requirements. The Jazz was an upgrade from my first car, a 1998 Toyota Vienta (read Camry) V6. The Toyota was as reliable as an old Labrador, but it had a growing oil leak and drank fuel like there was no tomorrow, so it was time for an upgrade.
The exterior of the Jazz appealed to me as one of the more masculine light cars in a class, which during the 00's was dominated by bubbly, cutesy exterior designs. It is quite boxy and tall, which some people find odd, but as I will explain is worth every penny when it comes to interior space.
MINOR SIZE, MAJOR SPACE
Probably the most talked about, and biggest draw card, feature of the Jazz is its capacious and flexible interior. Being a bigger guy and downsizing from a large sedan, this appealed strongly to me as the tall roofline and high seating position provides great visibility and heaps of headroom (although if you put someone my size in the passenger seat you might bump elbows sometimes). Additionally, while that high seating position gives great visibility, it can make some feel as though they are sitting on top of the car rather than in it.
On a day-to-day basis, the small item storage in this car makes all the difference. In front of the drivers and passengers knees is a long parcel shelf which is great for storing sunglasses, wallets, bottles etc. Along with the usual glove box, deep centre storage bin and two cupholders, the Jazz feels like it will never run out of space to put stuff in the front.
Speaking of room, the back seats and boot is where this car comes into its own. The Jazz has Honda's "Magic Seats" which are a true marvel of cabin design. Among other configurations, they allow you to fold the back seat bases down into the floor, for a completely flat, deep load bed, or up, for tall item storage in the rear foot well. This has allowed me to do, among other things, many nursery and IKEA furniture runs and even transport a full sized mountain bike without removing the wheels. When comparing this with friends who own other cars in this class (think Toyota Yaris and Mazda 2) the space in the back of the Jazz is incomparable and makes it feel like a car in the next segment up.
As the with latin allegretto, the Jazz is 'a little bit joyful' for a light car. In this generation of Jazz, the VTi and VTi-S models got the 1.5-litre engine, and I would highly recommend finding these models over the base model GLi's 1.3L engine, which feels significantly under-powered, even around town. Mated with the smooth-shifting 5-speed manual gearbox, the Jazz is zippy and fun to drive around town, and is happy to rev up to the redline. The Jazz also came with an optional CVT automatic, however I think the manual is the pick of the two as some owners have reported faults with the CVT, and the manual allows you to extract the most out of this relatively small engine.
FORTE ISN'T ALWAYS A GOOD THING
Given its small capacity, it's worth noting that a downside of the Jazz from this era is that it can be quite loud at freeway speeds. Both the engine and wind noise can get a little much above 100km/h and while it is perfectly capable at these speeds, I wouldn't recommend it for regular freeway commuters or long open-road trips.
Being from back in 06', the Jazz doesn't have much by way of technology, although it does have enough essentials to keep people happy: air con, remote central locking and power windows and mirrors (including a power-folding drivers side mirror). It also lacks modern active safety technologies and, despite its name, has a relatively underwhelming sound system.
NO TREBLE HERE
As with many Honda's, the Jazz has been a reliable little thing and feels like it could last for another 13 years in the same shape it's in now. Apart from regular minor servicing it hasn't required much else over my two years of ownership and mechanics have commented that they have seen few major issues with the 1.5-litre engine and manual gearbox combination. Moreover, if things do go wrong, replacement parts are relatively cheap and easily accessible.