Sometimes things are not what they seem. Within the confines of their covers, hidden virtues reside, unseen from casual glances and glossed over by superficial eyes. As the axiom goes; “do not judge a book by its cover” because a book’s sketchy facade may mask a surprising performance from an eloquent engineer of words.
I only mention this because the Honda Jazz takes that axiom and blows a blunt raspberry in its face. This Honda Jazz is precisely what it looks like, and those who may be looking for hidden meaning within these purplish-blue panels are on a fool’s errand.
After having a run-in with a professional driver with dubious understanding of Give Way rules, we bought this 2007 purplish Honda Jazz back in 2009, and it has given us many, many years of solid, reliable and completely unpretentious motoring. When we first laid eyes on the shopping-trolley-esque shape, we knew that - for what we needed at that point in time - the Honda Jazz would offer us exactly what its appearance touted.
From simply looking at the thing, we could tell what we were in for, and much to our delight, it met every criteria for a reasonable price.
Could there be a better buy for the price in the low teens? Possibly. But, if you’re looking for some kind of small car that makes you feel alive behind the wheel, or somehow evokes emotion, then the Jazz will blow that familiar raspberry at you before then carrying you from A to point B with a shrug.
Behind the wheel, the driver feels as though they’re perched on top of a stagecoach, rather than wrapped within a cockpit. But instead of four muscular stallions at the end of your reins, you have the engine equivalent of a pair of happy-looking huskies. Sure, they ain’t gonna haul you toward the horizon at an exhilarating pace, but they’re willing to work.
The Jazz is powered by a 1.3-litre engine which generates the kilowattage of a twanged rubber band and the torque of a few human biceps. Tootling around the city is trouble-free, even if the centre of gravity feels a little higher than what is comfortable. Cruising on the open road at 100kph is not this vehicle’s forte, and the incessant drone of 3,000rpm will make you yearn for the comparatively appealing siren call of a Dyson.
According to the in-dash counter, the car returns around 5.5L/100km, but it surprisingly jumps up to 6.5L/100km whenever I drive, much to the wife's consternation.
Yet, even with a boot full of luggage and four occupants on board, the Jazz still travels with a stubborn willingness to fulfil the goals you list out. It’s not the best open-road traveller, but it’ll get there.
There are many nice little touches within the cabin; there’s a small shelf for front passengers in front of their legs, and the rear seats fold forward to be flush with the boot’s floor. This might not be considered such an outrageous notion in today’s modern vehicle market, but some cars of a similar class in 2007 didn’t seem to think of this idea. Yes, Mazda2. I am looking at you.
Honda’s magic-seats are here as well, which is a nifty feature in where the base of the rear seats fold upward to allow the transport of taller items in the back. It is a grand feature. Since purchasing this Honda Jazz, we have used it a grand total of twice. Despite this feature being used a small number of times, it is still one of those “nice to have when you need it” items.
The steering wheel is dimpled like the surface of a golf ball, which doesn’t feel grippy and therefore affects your enthusiasm when pitching the car into turns. The touch-points are… economical. They are nice-ish, although they clearly weren’t top priority when designing the car. This era of Jazz was apparently prone to leaking water inside the cabin, however the example we purchased has managed to stave off the outside elements for the nine years of ownership.
But, as I alluded to earlier, the Jazz is neither exciting or exhilarating, but this era of Micro car was never really about that. The Jazz was, and still is, the little car who could.
With our time with the Honda Jazz coming to a close, due to our changing lifestyle and a child who stubbornly insists on growing like a weed, we can only conclude that it has succeeded for us and our demands. It hasn’t missed a mechanical beat, and the only recall done related to some pesky airbag issue that got a lot of attention a couple years ago.
The enthusiasts of motoring will always be seeking that element of a car that gives the owner joy, and they will often assign the thrill to the car’s performance, its handling, or even the serenity of the cabin. The Jazz offered us none of those things, but if we must somehow assign a label to the car that would suggest it has some sentience, it would be “loyal”.
Loyal like a husky.