Honda Jazz 1.4 DSi Road test - Civinfo
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 17th January 2007, 19:51 Thread Starter
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Honda Jazz 1.4 DSi Road test

Just had the chance to drive a brand new 1.4 Jazz, and thought I'd share my thoughts in the form of a 10 minute micro-review:

Looks and appeal


The very fact that I'd had wandered over to one in the showroom points to the fact that it can't be all bad - it has a chunky and purposeful look, albeit a little tall. Maybe the VW Polo designer had a brief fling with the Citroen Berlingo designer (if it actually had one) and then did a quick contract for Honda. The little alloy wheels seem very small and lost in the wheel arches, and there seems to be no real "look" to the car. If asked to draw one, could you?

Inside the car


The quality of this inexpensive box is remarkable. Everything feels absolutely rock solid, despite a couple of the plastic areas initially looking a little cheap. But once you start to operate it, every control clunks or slides so nicely that you get that "I wish my car was like this" feeling.

The seats are comfortable and offer plenty of adjustment, and crucially the driving position is almost correct - the seat, pedals and wheels are pretty close to lining up.

The instruments are clear, but dragged up my Nissan Sunny memories by being bright orange. The stereotypical Japanese car is one that is reliable, has horrible plasticky orange instruments and drives like a dog. So that's one down...



We had to go to B&Q - but suddenly realised that we had the Jazz... Is there space in that little thing? A quick trip round to the boot revealed something almost the size of a Golf boot - remarkable. Honda have used the same tricks they use in the Civ - fuel tank is under the passenger seat and the rear suspension is a compact twist beam setup.

In the front there are plenty of little storage areas and clever touches - the glove box is a bit small, but once you remove the manual (the Jazz mag?) it's fine. As we know, you (or your grandson) can even plug in your mp3 player. There are large trays running across the car, so if you had to swerve to avoid the other car that you didn't see (travelling at well in excess of 48 mph), your clip on sunglasses and bus pass might slide around in an irritating fashion.



I understand that the 1.4 is about 10K, and it came with alloy wheels, aircon, and a radio that sounded excellent. We put a tenner's worth of unleaded in, the gauge shot up to 1/2 full, and we drove for about a thousand miles before it moved (approximately). So this is a car that will really appeal to those of you who feel physical pain when even thinking about opening your wallets.

On the road (excluding steering)


Having driven the 1.4 DSI Civ, I was rather looking forward to this. The 1.4 Civ goes quite well and is quite refined - so the lighter Jazz should be excellent. Or so I thought.

Firstly, the engine seems unnaturally gutless. Relatively little power low down, followed by less-than-you expected mid-range (but with an almost useful amount at upper-midrange), followed by an awful noise. Above 4,000 rpm there's not much extra power to go there for, in fact all you get is a rough, slightly unpleasant vibrating fizzing engine note that's just begging for you to change up. In Jazz-world, you don't accelerate, but with time the engine will assist the wind and the gradients in helping you go a bit faster. Speed eventually arrives, and once at a normal motorway cruising velocity the car is quiet and smooth. It's remarkable that Jayne's old Yaris feels a lot faster and significantly more sporty than a 1.4 Jazz.

The suspension and ride is good - on the firm side but beautifully damped and vice free for the class of car. No bouncing, no jarring and no significant clonking when taking on rough surfaces. The car is a bit vague in bends. But this is all connected to the something that is very wrong. It's the...



Oh dear. Just two pink rinses out of a possible five. What is so wrong? Firstly the wheel is PTFE coated. No part of you that falls off mid-sneeze will irritatingly adhere to the wheel, but neither will your hands - and your hands will be gripping hard.
The steering is electric which traditionally offers little or no feedback. Fine, we can live with that. It is also slow - so more turning is required in order to get a result. Also fine. But it's the weighting that has gone wrong. Normally you steer not by moving the wheel, but by applying a small force. In the old days, the wheel would be wriggling a bit, and the force would cause an average movement and a subsequent change in direction. More force - a faster change. But in the Jazz, the steering is stiff, as if there is some bizarre friction. Apply a small force, and the wheel won't move. Apply a bit more, still nothing. A bit more and it moves - too much. So repeat the whole process in the reverse direction. It's so bad that if you are steady and make a correction, the wheel will turn and will then stay where it is - the self centering action is not enough to overcome this friction and pull it back to centre, so you have to do the unnatural thing and turn it back to centre.
The net result is a wiggling path, never quite putting the car where you want it to be. How Honda have spoilt the car so much by such a small detail is beyond me, but then you have to go back to my stereotypical Japanese car...



It's no wonder they called it the Jazz, and not the hip hop, metal nor even prog. The car is practical, beautifully made, clever, quiet, comfortable and thrifty. Taken gently to 48 mph, then for an amble to the bowling club, it's just great. Hence I give it 4 pink rinses out of 5, not the three I think I ought to.
But I could never have one, simply because it is such a dog to drive - Jayne's 3K 6 year old 998cc Yaris is about as fast, a load smoother and miles more fun.

Jazz. Nice. Ish...
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 17th January 2007, 20:31
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Just so happens I had a drive of a Jazz today as well. It was an automatic version.
It was the (free) courtesy car from my dealer whilst my Civic was having the recall check.
It is a good little car with a solid feel, but like you I would not buy one...
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 17th January 2007, 20:35
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I had one the last two days too, manual though.

Why does the speedo go up to 145mph? surely it would take five days to get there!

I too would not buy one
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 17th January 2007, 20:56
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Do we review the Type-R using gold sovereign rings instead of blue rinces out of ten?

I hate the Jazz personally, not because it's not ideal for a family nip around, it's just the way I feel like I need to wear a nappy when driving it in the wind!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 17th January 2007, 21:27
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Originally Posted by Pottsy View Post
We put a tenner's worth of unleaded in, the gauge shot up to 1/2 full, and we drove for about a thousand miles before it moved (approximately).
Ho ho ho.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 17th January 2007, 21:36
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I've got a 2002 Jazz as my runaround and don't think it's too bad. I know they've had a facelift or two since then though.

I find the biggest issue I have (other than it being Orchid Yellow ) is it's inability to cope with crosswinds on the motorway. It's been particularly widy lately and I travel a couple of miles on elevated motorway every day. One lane isn't always enough!

As regards the steering I am in 100% in agreement with the slow turning. When I test drove a 2.2D Civic the other day I thought I was going to spin it the first time I came to a bend. I've never had an issue with the steering wheel being slippy and think it actually feels quite chunky and comfortable.

It is fairly easy to tramp the front end (maybe Honda chose the steering ratio to help reduce this) and handling does get a bit skittish if you try pushing the car although this is all quite manageable.

If you drive it right you can make it move quite well and I don't think the engine's that bad at all. I had to have an EGR valve replaced on my Jazz which would have cost almost 300 had it not been done under warranty. Apparently, this is a common fault.

The stereo in mine has a cassette player which surprised me a bit. I just never imagined it'd have anything other than a CD player. I sorted that out with a Connects2 ipod interface and active cradle which is now controlled from the stereo. I think the sound from it is 10x better than from the stereo I had in my '53 Type R although the speakers are now starting to vibrate a bit.

It's a runaround for me and in that capacity I can't fault it.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 17th January 2007, 23:16
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All new jazz coming Soon!!!

Think it is at the Tokyo motor show in October - prior to its launch
I would think it will be Jan 2008 before it is launchd in the UK
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